March 14, 2020

The daily recap of New Mexico COVID-19 news (3/14/20 edition)

Note: This daily recap of COVID-19 news from New Mexico is available in a daily email. Sign up here. The same post will also appear on our website each morning.

  • This newsletter will generally focus on New Mexico news, but Friday, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency over COVID-19, a type of coronavirus. He said it will allow him to provide $50 billion to states and local governments.
  • On Friday morning, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced four more presumptive positive cases of coronavirus, as well as some more information on the closure of public schools. See our story here.
  • A private lab can now test for COVID-19, but it’s still not clear where the state’s testing capacity is currently. Read our story here.
  • As of 7:00 p.m. Friday evening, the state reported 10 presumptive positive tests out of 247 total tests.
  • Speaking of the school closures, Albuquerque Public Schools announced where and how students can access free meals during the closure.
  • Universities, including UNM and NMSU, announced they’re expanding spring break in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.
  • The state has hotlines for those seeking more COVID-19 information. The state asks people with questions about health issues related to COVID-19, including if they suspect they have been exposed, call 855-600-3453.
    If anyone has questions about school closures, job issues and public supplies, they ask that you call 833-551-0518.
  • Superintendent of Insurance Russell Toal issued an emergency rule stopping health insurers from charging copays for testing and health care services related to COVID-19.
    “Gov. Lujan Grisham has made clear that New Mexico will take aggressive, proactive steps to contain and prevent the spread of COVID-19. A key part of that strategy is ensuring access to free, high-quality care, including testing and treatment,” Toal said. “We thank New Mexico insurers for cooperating with OSI in the formulation of this rule.”
    The Albuquerque Journal wrote about it and two other emergency rules.
  • The Department of Workforce Solutions is expanding unemployment benefits to those impacted by COVID-19. This includes if an employer lays off “some or all of their workforce” because of the virus. Benefits would also be available to someone who is self-quarantined or have a family member who is quarantined, or for workers who have had their hours reduced because of the impacts of COVID-19.
  • Starting Monday, the largest home visiting program will shift to televisits through phones and video conferencing.
    CHI St. Vincent Children Home Visiting Program announced Friday it will suspend home visits because of COVID-19, a type of coronavirus. If a family lacks a cell phone or sufficient technology, CHI St. Vincent will provide a prepaid cell phone to the parents.
    CHI St. Vincent will continue to enroll families through the crisis. The Home Visiting program includes visits with a curriculum of health, well-being and school readiness that begins prenatally once a week for three years. The services include a case management system to connect families to additional resources and services.
    The program, which is self-funded through an endowment, serves around 750 families in eight counties around the state. The program is free to families and does not bill insurance.
  • The Santa Fe New Mexican wrote about the potential impacts of the virus on tourism.
  • The Albuquerque City Council will only allow city councilors, critical council and administrative staff and credentialed members of the press into the council’s meeting on Monday, March 16. The public can view the meeting through GOVTV on Comcast Channel 16 or can stream it live on the GOVTV website or on the Council Legislative Information Portal or on YouTube. The GOVTV live stream can be accessed on most smartphones, tablets or computers from the links listed.
    Public comment will be accepted via email, fax, or hand delivery through 4:45 p.m. on Monday, March 16th. Web Form submission for public comment can be used or hard copies can be faxed to 505-768-3227 or delivered to the City Council office on the 9th Floor of the City/County Government Building at One Civic Plaza. These comments will be distributed to all Councilors for review. The agenda will be online after 5 p.m. Friday.
  • New Mexico In Depth created an interactive map to track the positive or presumptive positive cases of COVID-19.
  • The state capitol will be closed through April 6.
  • The state is offering new loans to businesses affected by COVID-19, including those seeing fewer customers and whose supply chain has been impacted. The information is on the Economic Development Department’s COVID business assistance page.
    “We know business owners are resilient and the EDD is looking to help out wherever we can to keep a business operating and save jobs,” Secretary Alicia J. Keyes said.
  • Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver’s office announced Friday it will suspend nearly all in-person services. The exceptions are those related to public financing, candidate filing and apostilles. Other services will be taken care of over the phone.
    “Though I know these changes will cause some inconvenience, this is a productive and proactive response to the current challenges faced by the COVID-19 virus in order to limit its potential community spread,” Toulouse Oliver said.” I encourage the public to abide by all the best practices being recommended by public health officials to thwart the spread of this virus in our state and nation.”
    We wrote Thursday about how state agencies remain open, though they recommend accessing services online.
  • U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall introduced legislation to expand free coronavirus testing nationwide. The bill, the Free COVID19 Testing Act, would waive cost-sharing for COVID-19 tests and related health services to those with private health plans, Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, CHIP, TRICARE, VA as well as for federal civilians, American Indians and Alaska Natives, according to a release from the senators.
    “Expanding free diagnostic testing for COVID-19 infections is one of the greatest ways to make our public health response to this pandemic more targeted and effective,” Heinrich said in a statement.
    Udall called the testing “a key tool to keep our communities safe.”
  • Another addition to the plethora of cancellations: All events at Popejoy Hall in Albuquerque through at least April 30. 
  • From the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, in southeastern New Mexico: “Out of an abundance of caution, the U.S. Department of Energy is postponing all public tours of Environmental Management sites, including WIPP, through the end of April.”
  • Many of the press conferences from state or local officials have included calls to avoid any racist discrimination in the wake of COVID-19. A University of New Mexico student from China had his door at campus housing covered with plastic, with a sign that warned of a quarantine. KOB reported other racist incidents as well, including one against the reporter herself.
  • The Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department has closed all New Mexico state parks to overnight camping, effective Friday, March 13 through April 9. The state is also postponing or cancelling all events scheduled to take place in state parks, but the parks will remain open during the day. 
  • New Mexico Environment Department announced it will hold a webcast for its scheduled “Community Impacts” meeting scheduled for March 19 in Farmington, in-lieu of an in-person meeting. State officials will be available from 2-6 p.m. March 19 to discuss the cultural, health and economic impacts of oil and gas activity in New Mexico and listen to public input. The meeting is part of NMED’s methane strategy development.  This newsletter will generally focus on New Mexico news, but Friday, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency over COVID-19, a type of coronavirus. He said it will allow him to provide $50 billion to states and local governments.
  • On Friday morning, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced four more presumptive positive cases of coronavirus, as well as some more information on the closure of public schools. See our story here.
  • A private lab can now test for COVID-19, but it’s still not clear where the state’s testing capacity is currently. Read our story here.
  • As of 7:00 p.m. Friday evening, the state reported 10 presumptive positive tests out of 247 total tests.
  • Speaking of the school closures, Albuquerque Public Schools announced where and how students can access free meals during the closure.
  • The City of Albuquerque is working on strategies to protect its homeless population.
  • Universities, including UNM and NMSU, announced they’re expanding spring break in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.
  • The state has hotlines for those seeking more COVID-19 information. The state asks people with questions about health issues related to COVID-19, including if they suspect they have been exposed, call 855-600-3453.
  • If anyone has questions about school closures, job issues and public supplies, they ask that you call 833-551-0518.
  • Superintendent of Insurance Russell Toal issued an emergency rule stopping health insurers from charging copays for testing and health care services related to COVID-19.
  • “Gov. Lujan Grisham has made clear that New Mexico will take aggressive, proactive steps to contain and prevent the spread of COVID-19. A key part of that strategy is ensuring access to free, high-quality care, including testing and treatment,” Toal said. “We thank New Mexico insurers for cooperating with OSI in the formulation of this rule.”
  • The Albuquerque Journal wrote about it and two other emergency rules.
  • The Department of Workforce Solutions is expanding unemployment benefits to those impacted by COVID-19. This includes if an employer lays off “some or all of their workforce” because of the virus. Benefits would also be available to someone who is self-quarantined or have a family member who is quarantined, or for workers who have had their hours reduced because of the impacts of COVID-19.
  • Starting Monday, the largest home visiting program will shift to televisits through phones and video conferencing.
  • CHI St. Vincent Children Home Visiting Program announced Friday it will suspend home visits because of COVID-19, a type of coronavirus. If a family lacks a cell phone or sufficient technology, CHI St. Vincent will provide a prepaid cell phone to the parents.
  • CHI St. Vincent will continue to enroll families through the crisis. The Home Visiting program includes visits with a curriculum of health, well-being and school readiness that begins prenatally once a week for three years. The services include a case management system to connect families to additional resources and services.
  • The program, which is self-funded through an endowment, serves around 750 families in eight counties around the state. The program is free to families and does not bill insurance.
  • The Albuquerque City Council will only allow city councilors, critical council and administrative staff and credentialed members of the press into the council’s meeting on Monday, March 16. The public can view the meeting through GOVTV on Comcast Channel 16 or can stream it live on the GOVTV website or on the Council Legislative Information Portal or on YouTube. The GOVTV live stream can be accessed on most smartphones, tablets or computers from the links listed.
  • Public comment will be accepted via email, fax, or hand delivery through 4:45 p.m. on Monday, March 16th. Web Form submission for public comment can be used or hard copies can be faxed to 505-768-3227 or delivered to the City Council office on the 9th Floor of the City/County Government Building at One Civic Plaza. These comments will be distributed to all Councilors for review. The agenda will be online after 5 p.m. Friday.
  • New Mexico In Depth created an interactive map to track the positive or presumptive positive cases of COVID-19.
  • The state capitol will be closed through April 6.
  • The state is offering new loans to businesses affected by COVID-19, including those seeing fewer customers and whose supply chain has been impacted. The information is on the Economic Development Department’s COVID business assistance page.
  • “We know business owners are resilient and the EDD is looking to help out wherever we can to keep a business operating and save jobs,” Secretary Alicia J. Keyes said.
  • Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver’s office announced Friday it will suspend nearly all in-person services. The exceptions are those related to public financing, candidate filing and apostilles. Other services will be taken care of over the phone.
  • “Though I know these changes will cause some inconvenience, this is a productive and proactive response to the current challenges faced by the COVID-19 virus in order to limit its potential community spread,” Toulouse Oliver said.” I encourage the public to abide by all the best practices being recommended by public health officials to thwart the spread of this virus in our state and nation.”
  • We wrote Thursday about how state agencies remain open, though they recommend accessing services online.
  • U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall introduced legislation to expand free coronavirus testing nationwide. The bill, the Free COVID19 Testing Act, would waive cost-sharing for COVID-19 tests and related health services to those with private health plans, Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, CHIP, TRICARE, VA as well as for federal civilians, American Indians and Alaska Natives, according to a release from the senators.
  • “Expanding free diagnostic testing for COVID-19 infections is one of the greatest ways to make our public health response to this pandemic more targeted and effective,” Heinrich said in a statement.
  • Udall called the testing “a key tool to keep our communities safe.”
  • Another addition to the plethora of cancellations: All events at Popejoy Hall in Albuquerque through at least April 30. 
  • From the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, in southeastern New Mexico: “Out of an abundance of caution, the U.S. Department of Energy is postponing all public tours of Environmental Management sites, including WIPP, through the end of April.”
  • Many of the press conferences from state or local officials have included calls to avoid any racist discrimination in the wake of COVID-19. A University of New Mexico student from China had his door at campus housing covered with plastic, with a sign that warned of a quarantine. KOB reported other racist incidents as well, including one against the reporter herself.
  • The Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department has closed all New Mexico state parks to overnight camping, effective Friday, March 13 through April 9. The state is also postponing or cancelling all events scheduled to take place in state parks, but the parks will remain open during the day. 
  • New Mexico Environment Department announced it will hold a webcast for its scheduled “Community Impacts” meeting scheduled for March 19 in Farmington, in-lieu of an in-person meeting. State officials will be available from 2-6 p.m. March 19 to discuss the cultural, health and economic impacts of oil and gas activity in New Mexico and listen to public input. The meeting is part of NMED’s methane strategy development.  This newsletter will generally focus on New Mexico news, but Friday, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency over COVID-19, a type of coronavirus. He said it will allow him to provide $50 billion to states and local governments.
  • On Friday morning, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced four more presumptive positive cases of coronavirus, as well as some more information on the closure of public schools. See our story here.
  • A private lab can now test for COVID-19, but it’s still not clear where the state’s testing capacity is currently. Read our story here.
  • As of 7:00 p.m. Friday evening, the state reported 10 presumptive positive tests out of 247 total tests.
  • Speaking of the school closures, Albuquerque Public Schools announced where and how students can access free meals during the closure.
  • Universities, including UNM and NMSU, announced they’re expanding spring break in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.
  • The state has hotlines for those seeking more COVID-19 information. The state asks people with questions about health issues related to COVID-19, including if they suspect they have been exposed, call 855-600-3453.
    If anyone has questions about school closures, job issues and public supplies, they ask that you call 833-551-0518.
  • Superintendent of Insurance Russell Toal issued an emergency rule stopping health insurers from charging copays for testing and health care services related to COVID-19.
    “Gov. Lujan Grisham has made clear that New Mexico will take aggressive, proactive steps to contain and prevent the spread of COVID-19. A key part of that strategy is ensuring access to free, high-quality care, including testing and treatment,” Toal said. “We thank New Mexico insurers for cooperating with OSI in the formulation of this rule.”
    The Albuquerque Journal wrote about it and two other emergency rules.
  • The Department of Workforce Solutions is expanding unemployment benefits to those impacted by COVID-19. This includes if an employer lays off “some or all of their workforce” because of the virus. Benefits would also be available to someone who is self-quarantined or have a family member who is quarantined, or for workers who have had their hours reduced because of the impacts of COVID-19.
  • Starting Monday, the largest home visiting program will shift to televisits through phones and video conferencing.
    CHI St. Vincent Children Home Visiting Program announced Friday it will suspend home visits because of COVID-19, a type of coronavirus. If a family lacks a cell phone or sufficient technology, CHI St. Vincent will provide a prepaid cell phone to the parents.
    CHI St. Vincent will continue to enroll families through the crisis. The Home Visiting program includes visits with a curriculum of health, well-being and school readiness that begins prenatally once a week for three years. The services include a case management system to connect families to additional resources and services.
    The program, which is self-funded through an endowment, serves around 750 families in eight counties around the state. The program is free to families and does not bill insurance.
  • The Albuquerque City Council will only allow city councilors, critical council and administrative staff and credentialed members of the press into the council’s meeting on Monday, March 16. The public can view the meeting through GOVTV on Comcast Channel 16 or can stream it live on the GOVTV website or on the Council Legislative Information Portal or on YouTube. The GOVTV live stream can be accessed on most smartphones, tablets or computers from the links listed.
    Public comment will be accepted via email, fax, or hand delivery through 4:45 p.m. on Monday, March 16th. Web Form submission for public comment can be used or hard copies can be faxed to 505-768-3227 or delivered to the City Council office on the 9th Floor of the City/County Government Building at One Civic Plaza. These comments will be distributed to all Councilors for review. The agenda will be online after 5 p.m. Friday.
  • New Mexico In Depth created an interactive map to track the positive or presumptive positive cases of COVID-19.
  • The state capitol will be closed through April 6.
  • The state is offering new loans to businesses affected by COVID-19, including those seeing fewer customers and whose supply chain has been impacted. The information is on the Economic Development Department’s COVID business assistance page.
    “We know business owners are resilient and the EDD is looking to help out wherever we can to keep a business operating and save jobs,” Secretary Alicia J. Keyes said.
  • Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver’s office announced Friday it will suspend nearly all in-person services. The exceptions are those related to public financing, candidate filing and apostilles. Other services will be taken care of over the phone.
    “Though I know these changes will cause some inconvenience, this is a productive and proactive response to the current challenges faced by the COVID-19 virus in order to limit its potential community spread,” Toulouse Oliver said.” I encourage the public to abide by all the best practices being recommended by public health officials to thwart the spread of this virus in our state and nation.”
    We wrote Thursday about how state agencies remain open, though they recommend accessing services online.
  • U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall introduced legislation to expand free coronavirus testing nationwide. The bill, the Free COVID19 Testing Act, would waive cost-sharing for COVID-19 tests and related health services to those with private health plans, Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, CHIP, TRICARE, VA as well as for federal civilians, American Indians and Alaska Natives, according to a release from the senators.
    “Expanding free diagnostic testing for COVID-19 infections is one of the greatest ways to make our public health response to this pandemic more targeted and effective,” Heinrich said in a statement.
    Udall called the testing “a key tool to keep our communities safe.”
  • Another addition to the plethora of cancellations: All events at Popejoy Hall in Albuquerque through at least April 30. 
  • From the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, in southeastern New Mexico: “Out of an abundance of caution, the U.S. Department of Energy is postponing all public tours of Environmental Management sites, including WIPP, through the end of April.”
  • Many of the press conferences from state or local officials have included calls to avoid any racist discrimination in the wake of COVID-19. A University of New Mexico student from China had his door at campus housing covered with plastic, with a sign that warned of a quarantine. KOB reported other racist incidents as well, including one against the reporter herself.
  • The Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department has closed all New Mexico state parks to overnight camping, effective Friday, March 13 through April 9. The state is also postponing or cancelling all events scheduled to take place in state parks, but the parks will remain open during the day. 
  • New Mexico Environment Department announced it will hold a webcast for its scheduled “Community Impacts” meeting scheduled for March 19 in Farmington, in-lieu of an in-person meeting. State officials will be available from 2-6 p.m. March 19 to discuss the cultural, health and economic impacts of oil and gas activity in New Mexico and listen to public input. The meeting is part of NMED’s methane strategy development