Overwhelmed by Covid Hospital Cases, El Paso to Airlift Some Patients to Other Cities

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Connecting state and local government leaders

STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Virginia police can continue to collect license plate data from scanners … Texas AG fired two aides and put two on leave after bribery accusations against him … Washington state captures “murder hornets.”

Some hospital patients in El Paso will be flown to other cities in Texas to be cared for, as patients ill with Covid-19 inundated local medical centers. The city’s civic center will also serve as a medical center, state and local officials said. “We are in a crisis stage,” El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego said on Sunday as he imposed a curfew prohibiting people from leaving their home overnight unless going to work or an essential service. City public health officials also asked people to stay home for two weeks to try to reduce spread of the coronavirus, noting that  Covid hospitalizations over three weeks grew from 259 to 786. City and county officials said they will be aggressively enforcing mask mandates and social distancing requirements. Up to 20 critical care patients will be given the option each day to be airlifted to other hospitals in other cities. Gov. Greg Abbott said the state, which is setting up the medical center at the civic center, also is sending 900 medical personnel to El Paso to help. El Paso County as of Sunday reported more than 11,000 active cases. [El Paso Times; KVIA; KFOX]

LICENSE PLATE SCANNERS | Police departments in Virginia can continue to collect license plate data from cars that are picked up by automated scanners, the state Supreme Court ruled last week. The ACLU of Virginia had challenged the systems, saying they give police the ability to track people. The Fairfax County Police Department, which had been the subject of the lawsuit, said the agency “will continue to provide the highest level of ethical service to our communities while safeguarding the privacy and constitutional rights of all that we serve.” [Courthouse News Service]

TEXAS AG | Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office fired two senior aides and put two more on leave, weeks after the staffers joined three others in a complaint asking law enforcement to investigate their boss for bribery. A spokesman for Paxton’s campaign denied the move came in retaliation for the accusations. The aides say the AG has used his office to help a political donor. [Texas Tribune]

NEW TROPICAL STORM | Tropical Storm Zeta formed Sunday morning and could reach the Gulf Coast by midweek. Zeta is the 27th named storm of the 2020 hurricane season, tying a record set in 2005. If it makes landfall in Louisiana, it would be the fifth storm to do so this year. [CNN; The Advocate]

MURDER HORNETS | A crew vaccummed up a nest of “murder hornets” in Washington state on Saturday. Scientists with the state Department of Agriculture had tracked the hornets, which prey on honeybees and also deliver painful stings to people, to the nest near the Canadian border. It was the first discovered nest of the hornets in the United States. [Associated Press]

Laura Maggi is the managing editor of Route Fifty.

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