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Another state Health and Human Services call center in El Paso closed because of COVID-19 infection


The Texas Health and Human Services Commission has temporarily closed a second El Paso call center because a worker tested positive for COVID-19, El Paso Matters has learned. 

Wayne Salter, HHSC’s deputy executive commissioner for access and eligibility services, sent a letter to employees of the call center at 9206 McCombs St. on Thursday informing them that a co-worker had been diagnosed with the infection caused by the novel coronavirus.

The infected employee was last at the office on Monday so other employees are being asked to self-quarantine until May 4, which would be 14 days after the last possible exposure to their co-worker, Salter said in the letter.

“Out of an abundance of caution for your health and safety, I am closing this office, effective immediately and through the remainder of your recommended quarantine period. This office is scheduled to reopen Tuesday, May 5, 2020,” Salter said in the letter, which was provided to El Paso Matters by a source who asked not to be identified because she or he isn’t authorized to speak publicly about the issue.

The McCombs office in Northeast El Paso is a call center to assist people with issues related to Medicaid and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits.

An HHSC spokeswoman would only say that the “McCombs office is closed for maintenance and is scheduled to reopen May 5.

It is the second El Paso HHSC call center to be temporarily closed this month because an employee tested positive for COVID-19. The call center at 215 Padres Drive in the Lower Valley was shuttered on April 14 and reopened on Monday.

Another HHSC facility, the El Paso Psychiatric Center, is the site of the biggest COVID-19 outbreak in the county. Officials have said 42 patients and employees have tested positive at an El Paso health facility they refuse to identify, but multiple sources have confirmed to El Paso Matters that the El Paso Psychiatric Center is the affected facility.

Robert Moore

Robert Moore is the founder and CEO of El Paso Matters. He has been a journalist in the Texas Borderlands since 1986. He spent most of his career at the El Paso Times, serving in a variety of leadership roles. His work has received a number of top journalism honors including the Burl Osborne award for editorial leadership, the James Madison Award from the Texas Freedom of Information Foundation, the Jack Douglas Award from Texas Associated Press Managing Editors and the Frank W. Mayborn Award for Community Leadership from the Texas Press Association. In 2013, he was the recipient of the Benjamin C. Bradlee Editor of the Year Award from the National Press Association. As a freelance journalist, Moore’s work has appeared in the Washington Post, Texas Monthly, ProPublica, National Public Radio, The Guardian and other publications. He has been featured as an expert on the border by CNN, MSNBC, BBC, CBC and PBS.

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