By Miguel Juárez
It’s time to “Break up with Covid-19” is a message that that is driving an organic, locally hatched campaign to stop the chain of COVID-19 in our community. The campaign includes an opportunity for individuals to sign a pledge on change.org and learn about resources in our community related to COVID-19 via a Facebook group. The pledge, which is directed at city and county leaders as well as the community at large, went live three weeks ago, in a city which has over 37,527 active cases, with a population of 700,000 people. When looking at the Paso del Norte area as a region, the Covid numbers are much higher. The region includes Ft. Bliss (which hasn’t released any numbers due to national security); Cd. Juárez, México; and Southern New Mexico. With those communities considered, we represent a region with a combined population of over 2.7 million people.
The “Break up with Covid-19” campaign is not tied to a strategic plan; it wasn’t hatched at a think tank; is it not part of a research study; nor is it being financed by city or governmental agencies. It is a group of concerned citizens with day jobs who want to make a difference locally and want to stop the spread, as well as provide just-in-time information to help the community.
The campaign is led by Andrea Tirres. She wrote the pledge because she was heartbroken by the number of deaths in El Paso and she wanted to do something to make a difference. As she talked to more people, a committee of individuals from different walks of life melded together, each member contributing their own talents and resources for a greater good. The effort is beginning to yield interest and interest.
Her idea was always about “the challenge for people to take a personal commitment,” and she still considers that commitment at the core of the grass-roots effort. It’s also an effort of connecting the dots with individuals who want to help and organizations who can encourage their members to participate. The Breakup Covid 915 Committee meets virtually to report on their progress and it charts out new assignments as the pandemic landscape changes from week to week.
Tirres said she wrote the pledge before Thanksgiving to try to help families celebrate the holiday in safer ways. The next hurdle will be the Christmas and New Year’s holidays with the pandemic still raging and the number of deaths from the virus increasing in El Paso. As of December, 12th, over 14,087 people have visited the petition page. The campaign has created one more place where the community can locate resources that they can use, from resources ranging from evictions to celebrating special occasions in a safer way.
In the period of Covid stress, Tirres states that beyond people signing the pledge or not, it is more of a matter of bringing topics of “personal responsibility” to the forefront. She also states that the companion to the pledge is a list of resources pertinent to the local community.
Richard Martínez, a retired mechanical engineer, who signed the petition, said he feels we are in a “tough situation,” but he feels it’s important for people be proactive and do what they can to stop the spread. He said he felt he was doing a lot of what is already written in the pledge, but now “it’s up to us to do what we can to reduce the numbers.” He added: “Each one of us has a friend or a family member who has come down with the virus.” He feels the pledge is a common-sense approach to what we can realistically do. He stated: “It’s not about politics, but about keeping family and friends safe as well as keeping ourselves safe–which is our reality.”
Marisa Limón Garza, who is a member of the committee, hopes that “people use the pledge to be mindful of the risks they are taking.” In her line of work with the Hope Border Institute, she is intimately aware of the level of need in the community, particularly among under-resourced individuals. Brandon Silverstein, who is also a member of the committee, stated that “anything the effort can do to increase the momentum in a changing environment will be good.” As a small business owner in the area of marketing and design, he was quick to respond to the need to display relevant data points on COVID cases to the community in a readable format. Since March, he has been updating the El Paso Covid Tracker he created with data released by the City of El Paso. See: https://elpasocovid19tracker.com/
If you are interested in participating or supporting this effort, or if you have media inquiries, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org Thank you!
You can read the pledge at: Let’s Breakup COVID-19 in El Paso, Texas
The Facebook page is located at: https://www.facebook.com/TakeThePledge915
At El Paso News, we encourage our readers to take the Pladge! We will be presenting updates on this important campaign. Thank you.