March 20, 2020

ABQ asking for PPE donations and other updates from Mayor Keller

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Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller and other officials gave an update on the city’s efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 is a disease caused by a type of coronavirus.

Keller emphasized that the city’s services are up and running.

“We very much want government to operate as best as it can. Government is there for us, and it needs to be there for us, especially in this challenging time,” Keller said.

First responders are “operating as normal, but with social distancing protocols in place, and testing protocols in place if they feel like they’ve been exposed,” he said.

“We do have a limited increased presence of [the Albuquerque Police Department] and [Albuquerque Fire Rescue] throughout the community, just to help folks feel safe,” Keller said, adding that officials are trying to hold field briefings in open areas like parking lots, “and keep our ladder trucks out of the stations and out in the public.”

“Those are just small ways that we can remind folks that we are fully operating as a city, and public safety is a top priority,” Keller said.

Here are some other updates offered at the briefing:

-All community substations are open, and Keller encouraged residents to use the stations to report any problems — but added that citizens should try the phone reporting program first, before coming to the substation.

-Albuquerque Fire Rescue Chief Paul Dow said the city’s paramedics and firefighters “have adequate PPE [personal protective gear] that they need to respond to these calls.” 

“Firefighters are following the industry standard best practices from the CDC, and we are in constant communication with the New Mexico Department of Health,” Dow said. “We have an altered response model to include some support provisions, so that we can actually respond more efficiently to these COVID-19 cases. We’re also working with other local EMS and fire agencies, just to make sure we’re all on the same page, and we’re sharing the resources that we have and policies we’re implementing.”

Dow also stressed that individuals should not call 911 with questions about COVID-19.

-Senior Affairs Director Anna Sanchez said that while the senior centers are currently closed, the department is working to use five of their centers as meal distribution points.

“This is to be able to provide grab and go options for our seniors, between the hours of 11:30am to 1pm Monday through Friday,” Sanchez said. The department provided 659 grab and go meals Thursday alone, she added.

The department is also operating its home delivery meal program, and are continuing to hold welfare checks on home-bound individuals. Sanchez said employees are providing additional information about COVID-19 to seniors that they interact with while providing meals. The department is also running its Senior Information Assistance Line over the weekend. That number is 505-764-6400.

The community substations are also accepting donations for seniors, Keller said.

-Albuquerque-area hospitals need blood donations, Keller said. He urged individuals who are interested in donating blood to follow the social distancing protocols and make a reservation at the hospital ahead of time.

“Because of the social distancing, all of them will require a reservation,” Keller said. “It’s not helpful to just show up.”

-The city is also asking businesses to donate any PPE inventory they have.

“This is part of a national shortage,” Keller said. “We’re doing OK right now in Albuquerque, but we definitely could use more. Different businesses, especially in the chemical industry, they may have PPEs on hand.”

Keller asked businesses that can donate PPE  to reach out to the Joint Information Center.