March 23, 2020

The daily recap of New Mexico COVID-19 news (3/24/20 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.

  • Monday’s big news was that the governor issued a stay-at-home order. The order orders all non-essential businesses to suspend in-person operations and asks essential businesses to allow as much work-at-home as possible and adhere to social distancing. Read our story here.
  • Also see the state’s FAQ on the stay-at-home order.
  • The Albuquerque Journal breaks down which businesses are deemed essential.
  • The New Mexico Supreme Court issued further restrictions for court procedures. The order limits the number of people that can be in courtrooms to 15 and mandates that all court proceedings should be done over video conference except in cases of emergency that require in-person appearances. 
  • The state reported 18 more COVID-19 cases on Monday. That brings the total up to 83.
  • Most of those who have tested positive are between the ages of 20 and 59, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.
  • The state will soon have testing sites in all 33 counties, Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel said, reported the Associated Press.
  • Albuquerque data firm RS21 developed an online tool for mapping areas in cities that are most vulnerable to COVID-19. Read our story here
  • To comply with the stay-at-home order, Las Cruces Public Schools closed its playgrounds and athletic fields, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported.
  • Kirtland Air Force Base announced on Monday that three people on the base tested positive for COVID-19, two military members and one spouse; all three cases were travel related and are now in self-isolation.
  • The Navajo Nation’s shelter-in-place order could be extended, Tribal President Jonathan Nez told reporters, according to the Farmington Daily Times.
  • And Nez said residents aren’t following the order, the Navajo Times reported.
  • “Basic” retailers are worried if they’ll survive the shutdown, reports the Albuquerque Journal.
  • Every member of the U.S. Senate Democratic caucus, which includes both New Mexico U.S. Senators, wrote a letter to President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence wanted to know more answers about why the president hasn’t used the full powers of the Defense Production Act to aid in providing medical supplies.
    “State, local, territorial, and tribal public health agencies are leading the response to the pandemic. These departments know their communities well and are making the best decisions they can to keep their citizens safe. However, our constituents working as health care providers and front line responders in hospitals, public health departments, and throughout their communities report the health care system is woefully under-resourced, especially in our rural, underserved areas and minority communities that are often overlooked. This problem is most acute with shortages of supplies and equipment that are desperately needed to test for and treat COVID-19 patients,” wrote the senators.
  • U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small wants the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to expand telephone services reimbursement for community health centers and rural health clinics. Along with Rep. Jared Huffman, D-California, Torres Small wrote a letter on Sunday signed by 18 other members to CMS administrator Seema Verma.
    From the letter:
    “In this time of high demand and great need, all medical facilities, even those less resourced clinics who lack the equipment and software to meet the requirements for what is defined as telemedicine, must receive payment for telephone calls to patients in lieu of in-person office visits.”
  • The City of Albuquerque announced all Child Development Centers, which includes the Early Head Start Program, Preschool Program, NM Pre-K program and all home-based services, will be closed beginning March 24. 
  • U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich announced all of his New Mexico offices will go fully remote. He said the decision was in coordination with the governor’s stay-at-home order.
    “The health of all New Mexico communities continues to be my top priority. We are working around the clock with federal, state, tribal, and local agencies to ensure that our state has the resources it needs to protect public health and keep families safe,” said Heinrich. “This is a worrisome time for our entire nation. 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.”
  • State Sen. Michael Padilla, D-Albuquerque, wants the state Superintendent of Insurance to impose a twelve month insurance premium rate moratorium as a result of the COVID-19 process.
    “A large working class economy cannot sustain increases in insurance premiums of any kind during these economic challenges,” Padilla said. “Premium rate increases could have a devastating effect on all age groups from young families to retirees.”
  • The University of New Mexico postponed all spring convocations indefinitely—including the spring graduation ceremony scheduled for May 16, the Daily Lobo reported.
  • The City of Las Vegas joined others around the state and country to freeze evictions and utility shut-offs, reports the Las Vegas Optic
  • The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says that New Mexico is in a better place to deal with a potential recession than many other states. However, the economic pressure from COVID-19 will hit all states very hard.
  • The City of Santa Fe is discussing postponing the Santa Fe Indian Market, Traditional Spanish Market and International Folk Art Market, all major tourist attractions that bring thousands of visitors to the state capital.
  • And towns that rely on tourism are asking visitors to stay away during the COVID-19 crisis. One is Taos, reports the Taos News, and another is Ruidoso, reports the Ruidoso News.
  • Americans for Prosperity-New Mexico, a libertarian organization, has often clashed with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. But they praised her actions so far during the COVID-19 crisis and gave advice for what they feel she should do next.
    “Governor Lujan-Grisham has taken great steps already to help New Mexicans during this public health emergency, but we should remove the government barriers and red tape that are impeding New Mexicans from accessing health care services. These policies will not only help reduce the burden of our state’s health care system during this crisis, but will benefit New Mexicans in any time,” Americans for Prosperity-New Mexico State Director Burly Cain said.
  • A grocery supplier in Las Cruces is donating $10,000 worth of green chile and beans. KVIA has the details.
  • Farmington Municipal Schools started dropping off bagged school meals at rural school bus stop locations on Monday, according to the Farmington Daily Times. Children can receive meals even if they are not students of Farmington’s Municipal School district. 
  • KSFR’s John Shannon spoke with U.S. Rep Ben Ray Lujan about his self-quarantine and what Congress is doing to help the U.S. respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico sent letters to elected officials Monday detailing a list of suggestions on protecting reproductive health care during the public health emergency. The organization said there have already been delays in reproductive health care and are concerned about access during the emergency.