March 27, 2020

The daily recap of New Mexico COVID-19 news (3/27/20 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.

  • The New Mexico Public Education Department will extend the public school closures. The department says they will announce more details on Friday, as they were still finalizing things on Thursday afternoon. Read our story here.
  • Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham sent a request to the U.S. Department of Defense earlier this week for a 248-bed U.S. Army combat support hospital to be sent to Albuquerque as a proactive measure.
    “This CSH is urgently needed to support the State of New Mexico’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which threatens to overwhelm our existing medical treatment facilities and resources,” Lujan Grisham wrote Wednesday in a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper.
    The Albuquerque Journal wrote about the request.
  • KOB-TV reported that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is surveying locations for possible medical facilities, including the old Lovelace Hospital at Gibson and San Mateo.
  • Meanwhile, the state announced another 24 positive COVID-19 cases on Thursday, bringing the total who have tested positive in the state to 136. Read our story here.
  • Small changes can lead to big results when it comes to slowing the spread of COVID-19, Human Services Department Secretary Dr. David Scrase told the Albuquerque Journal.
  • A Taos couple said they have recovered from COVID-19. They said they will continue to self-quarantine, just to be safe.
  • A health research center’s model says 513 people will die from COVID-19 in New Mexico by August.
  • The Navajo Nation added two more cases, bringing the total to 71. Read the Navajo Times story, which notes that 500 tests are still pending.
  • A Sandia National Laboratories employee tested positive for COVID-19. The labs evacuated and disinfected the buildings where the employee worked and all of those who had close, personal contact with the person are self-quarantined for 14 days.
  • U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich outlined what the $2 trillion recovery bill passed by the Senate will do for New Mexico. U.S. Sen. Tom Udall said the state will get $1.25 billion.
  • An emergency physician in Albuquerque wrote about a day in his life, before the COVID-19 wave hits, for Vice. It includes this:
    • Already we are low on N95 masks. We have only 131 ventilators in the hospital, and most of them are already being used. As of this moment, there are roughly 400 ICU beds in a state of 2 million people. Almost all of them are currently occupied. If 1 percent of our state catches COVID-19 at nearly the same time, we will need 1,000 new ICU beds. But 10 percent could catch it at nearly the same time, or 20 percent, or 30. What are we going to do?
  • The state Taxation and Revenue Department announced that all MVD offices will be closed until further notice.
    • “We understand this will be difficult on customers and we will make every effort to assist customers with emergency needs throughout this closure.  Keeping New Mexico safe must be everyone’s first priority right now,” said Taxation and Revenue Secretary Stephanie Schardin Clarke. “We are looking into what we can do to ensure that anyone whose license or vehicle registration expires through no fault of their own during the closure is not penalized.”
  • KOB-TV spoke with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on how the federal government has responded to the coronavirus pandemic. Lujan Grisham criticized the federal government for distributing damaged personal protective equipment to the state as part of its allocation of the national stockpile. 
  • The PED applied for a federal waiver for standardized tests in light of the school closures for COVID-19.
  • Thousands of New Mexicans have requested absentee ballots since the Secretary of State opened the absentee portal early. Read our story here.
  • The Metropolitan Detention Center is releasing nonviolent inmates who are considered vulnerable to COVID-19. Because of cramped conditions, jails and prisons are considered places where COVID-19 could spread quickly. In other states, COVID-19 has been found in prison systems among detainees or guards and staff.
    On Wednesday, the Law Offices of the Public Defender announced one of their members had tested positive for COVID-19.
  • The state Supreme Court temporarily stayed evictions for New Mexicans who prove they’re unable to pay rent on a mobile home lot. That comes after they temporarily postponed eviction orders for those who were unable to pay rent in other cases.
  • Echoing something going on across the country, makers in Santa Fe are doing what they can to help make personal protective equipment, reports the Santa Fe Reporter.
  • The City of Española declared a public health emergency this week, reported the Rio Grande Sun. The order echoes the state’s public health emergency.
  • The Bernalillo County Emergency Management Director told KRQE-TV why stay-at-home orders are necessary.
  • The Village of Cloudcroft declared a public health emergency Wednesday afternoon, after Cloudcroft Mayor David Venable issued a partial activation of the village’s emergency operations on Monday, according to the Alamogordo Daily News. The order will close all administrative buildings to the public, including the library and MVD. The order also limits staff within the Village hall to five employees at a time.
  • Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller paused the city’s plastic bag ban for 30 days to make things easier on stores.
  • But grocer Smith’s in Taos has stopped allowing customers to bring their own reusable bags into the store, the Taos News reports. Smith’s says the measure is to help slow the spread of COVID-19, though the New York Times reports that plastic industry groups are pushing misinformation about reusable bags during the pandemic to reverse plastic bag bans. 
  • The Rio Grande Sun looked at how the pandemic is changing things for the homeless and policing.
  • A business owner in Taos converted her app for online booking to help people in the area find COVID-19 resources.
  • Luna County’s emergency management director posted a video on Snapchat where he complained about “Asians” when it comes to COVID-19, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported
  • The governor announced $1.1 million for the All Together NM Fund to help the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the state. The Santa Fe Community Foundation will administer the fund, and the initial money comes from pledges from Ian and Sonnet McKinnon, Intel Pattern Energy, Blattner Energy and Tri State Generation and Transmission Association. Others can donate to the tax-deductible fund at http://www.AllTogetherNM.org.
  • New Mexico’s unemployment claims skyrocketed last week; 17,000 people filed claims in the state. Nationwide, 3.3 million people filed unemployment claims.
  • The City of Albuquerque Department of Senior Affairs announced it has delivered more than 10,000 meals to homebound seniors since the first announced cases of COVID-19 in New Mexico.
  • Santa Fe National Cemetery is halting burial services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The state is projected to lose 11.6 percent of private sector employment, representing 77,375 jobs, through the summer due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to analysis from the Economic Policy Institute. The analysis estimates states whose economies rely on retail, leisure, and hospitality services will be hardest hit. EPI estimates those sectors account for 28 percent of private sector employment.