March 16, 2020

The daily recap of New Mexico COVID-19 news (3/16/20 edition)

U.S. Army

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

  • If you are reading this on March 17, see Tuesday’s 3/17/20 edition.
  • The state expanded its ban on mass gatherings, this time imposing restrictions on restaurants, bars and other similar establishments. They include restricting patronage to 50 percent of maximum capacity and 50 percent of seating, among other restrictions. The amendment of the public health emergency goes into place Monday morning. Read our story here.
  • On Sunday, the state announced four new positive tests for COVID-19. That brings the total to 17.
  • The state expects to see a spike in positive COVID-19 cases soon because the state is conducting more tests. A release on the state implementing further efforts to minimize face-to-face contact at state agencies said the numbers of positive tests “are expected to rise as the state Health Department’s Scientific Laboratory Division and private partner TriCore Reference Laboratories increase capacity for test processing.”
  • Parents are having a difficult time finding childcare for their children who will not be going to school for three weeks, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.
  • Speaking of those efforts to minimize face-to-face contact in state agencies, see our story on this. The efforts include closing state museums and parks. The City of Albuquerque also closed BioPark facilities, which includes the city’s zoo.
  • The state’s chief public defender wants the New Mexico Supreme Court to delay trials. Read our story here on how public defenders are working during the pandemic.
  • The state hired Steve Jenison, an infectious disease specialist, to help with the state Department of Health’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak. See our story here.
  • The Centers for Disease Control recommends that for the next eight weeks events or gatherings consisting 50 or more people should be canceled or postponed.
  • The Gadsden Independent School District announced its plans to provide meals to students during the school closure. Details from the Las Cruces Sun-News.
  • Santa Fe Public Schools also has information on their site about meals for students.
  • This weekend, the Santa Fe New Mexican looked at the move towards digital learning as schools are closed.
  • The City of Albuquerque told the Albuquerque Journal that the city hopes to start testing the homeless population starting Monday morning for COVID-19. But a news release from the city Sunday said the testing began this past Friday morning. Many people who lack consistent shelter are older and have underlying conditions, which could increase their risk. The screenings will occur at two pickup points for the Westside Emergency Shelter, which the city operates. Those who show symptoms will be placed into a room at the shelter before being placed in an isolation pod. The City of Albuquerque told NM Political Report last week it hoped to begin screening for those seeking shelter at Westside Emergency Shelter this past Friday night.
  • The City of Albuquerque “deputized” Dr. Laura Parajon, M.D., M.P.H., the Executive Director of UNM’s Office of Community Health, as the Westside Emergency Housing Center Medical Director, according to a news release. Dr. Parajon will coordinate with the New Mexico Department of Health to access COVID-19 tests, and is leading the team to provide screenings and care to those who are homeless.
  • U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich announced his New Mexico-based offices will operate with minimal on-site staff, with other staffers working remotely.
    “This is a worrisome time for our entire nation,” Heinrich said in a statement. “I encourage all New Mexicans to utilize the services, resources, and information my office provides, and to contact me if you need assistance with a federal agency, including accessing Veterans benefits, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, or federal grant funding.”
  • The Santa Fe New Mexican wrote about how faith leaders in the state capital are tending to their congregations in the wake of COVID-19.
  • Sandia Park and Tramway announced that the tram will be closed “until further notice.” A message on the website says, “We know this may cause disappointment for our future guests but this decision was made in the best interest of our many visitors, locals and employees of the tram. Thank you to everyone for your patience during this time. We will continue to provide updates on our website at sandiapeak.com.”
    Ten 3, the restaurant at the top of the tram, will also be closed.
  • Restaurants will be hit hard. The New Mexico Restaurant Association, which lobbies on behalf of restaurants, told KRQE-TV that businesses have reported losing half of their customers in the last week.
  • Taos Ski Valley announced it is closing March 15, a week earlier than expected, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Taos News reported. 
  • Santa Ana Casino is closing for at least 30 days.
  • All horse racing events at Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino have been canceled, including the March 22 Sunland Derby, the El Paso Times reported. The closure is at least through April 10. Update: The casino is also closed.
  • Five people were treated at San Juan Regional Medical Center for symptoms following a possible freon leak at a Kirtland business last week, the Farmington Daily Times reported. There was some unfounded social media speculation that it was in response to COVID-19. 
  • For local craft brewery fans, the Darkside Brew Crew folks are tracking the impact of COVID-19 on local breweries.
  • New Mexico United announced it will close its offices and retail store for three weeks. The team says it will continue to pay its full- and part-time employees.