The daily recap of New Mexico COVID-19 news (3/28/20 edition)

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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.

  • Public school closures will continue through the end of the academic year, the state’s Public Education Department announced. PED Secretary Ryan Stewart said all schools and charters will be required to submit a continuous learning plan for the remainder of the school year. The state is working through issues to ensure equitable access to learning during the pandemic. Read our story here
  • The cases of COVID-19 in New Mexico skyrocketed on Friday, with the state announcing 55 new positive tests. That brought the total so far around the state to 191. Read our story here.
  • The Navajo Nation, which includes northeast Arizona, part of Utah and parts of northwest New Mexico, reported another 21 COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 92. The Navajo Nation also reported two deaths. Seventeen of the cases are in counties in New Mexico.
  • Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham gave an update on New Mexico’s COVID-19 preparedness on Friday afternoon. Read our story here.
  • The U.S. House passed the $2 trillion coronavirus relief package by voice vote. President Donald Trump signed the bill on Friday afternoon
  • The Navajo Nation Council approved $4 million in emergency funding; Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez signed the resolution, reported the Navajo Times.
  • The Santa Fe New Mexican wrote about the difficulties many have had in obtaining a COVID-19 test and how long those who received them had to wait for results.
  • The San Juan Regional Medical Center has administered over 100 COVID-19 tests, the Farmington Daily Times reported.
  • The governor ordered all of those who travel into New Mexico by airplane to self-isolatefor 14 days. Read our story here.
  • The downtown Santa Fe Post Office had to close after a worker tested positive for COVID-19
  • Environmental groups and conservation advocates are reeling after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said it will no longer enforce some of its regulations during the coronavirus pandemic. Multiple former EPA officials have spoken out against the rule. Read our story here
  • The New Mexico Supreme Court announced on Friday that all court-ordered visitations with children in foster care will be done via video conferencing. Chief Justice Judith Nakamura said the move will allow families to keep in contact, while also considering public health concerns.
    “The Court’s order balances the legal rights of parents and their interests in maintaining a relationship with their children in state custody and the need to protect the health and safety of the children during the COVID-19 public health emergency,” Nakamura said.
  • The Santa Fe New Mexican reported an attorney filed a tort claim notice on behalf of half a dozen state prisoners. The claim, which puts the state on notice of a potential lawsuit, says the state isn’t doing enough to protect prisoners from COVID-19.
  • The Albuquerque Journal reported that a homeless person in Albuquerque tested positive for COVID-19. The city has been making plans on how to protect the homeless population from the disease.
  • More than 31,000 New Mexicans have filed for unemployment since March 19, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
  • Sen. Tom Udall highlighted the portions of the coronavirus relief bill related to tribal issues. It includes, per Udall’s office:
    • $1.032 billion for the Indian Health Service, with significant funds put in the field through Tribal shares and urban organizations;
    • $453 million for operation of essential Tribal government programs funded through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, like public safety and purchase of protective equipment for emergency personnel;
    •  $69 million for the Bureau of Indian Education.
    • $100 million for USDA’s Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations.
    •  $300 million for Indian Housing Programs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
  • U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján highlighted some provisions he said he personally advocated for, including increasing the availability of PPE, expanding eligibility for Unemployment Insurance benefits to those who were self-employed and independent contractors, and expanding access to rural broadband.
  • U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, meanwhile mentioned about the $1,200 payments for each adult and $500 for each child, which phases out beginning at an annual income of $75,000 for an individual and $150,000 for a household, the $375 billion in relief for small businesses across the country, $200 billion for hospitals nationwide and more.
  • State police have responded to 300 complaints of non-compliance with the governor’s order closing businesses and nonprofits not deemed essential and of gatherings of more than five people. Albuquerque police have responded to another 100. That’s according to the Albuquerque Journal. This includes call enters and gatherings at local parks.
  • Police, however, are not stopping drivers to determine if their travel is non-essential.
  • In his daily press conference, Mayor Tim Keller said people have been largely cooperative with the stay-at-home order, though “there have been some underground parties people have been trying to throw with sort of these ‘end of the world’ parties young people do.” 
  • Otero County declared a public emergency over the pandemic, the Alamogordo Daily News reported.
  • The Silver City Daily Press wrote about how parents are dealing with school closures.
  • San Miguel County closed several departments because of the state’s “stay-at-home” order, the Las Vegas Optic reported.
  • Optum New Mexico’s testing sites in the Albuquerque metro area will only serve as Fever Upper Respiratory Infection sites, the City of Albuquerque announced Friday. The sites, the Journal Center Urgent Care, Rio Rancho and Tramway locations, will be closed to all other types of visits.
  • The City of Las Cruces gave its mayor expanded powers during the crisis, the Las Cruces Sun News reported.
  • The City of Española declared a public health emergency during an emergency city council meeting on Tuesday, the Rio Grande Sun reported. The resolution designates interim city manager Xavier Martinez as the city government’s Coordinator of Civil Preparedness.
  • A restaurant in Kirtland is under fire after the owner placed a sign that said, “CLOSED you can thank CHINA!!!” on the door. The owner said it was his intent to criticize the Chinese government for their handling of the coronavirus outbreak. He changed the sign to mention the country’s government.
  • Law enforcement agencies have received more than 400 complaints of noncompliance with the state’s stay-at-home order, issued earlier this week, according to the Albuquerque Journal.
  • Jail bookings and arrests are lower in San Miguel County since March 11, when the state confirmed its first cases of COVID-19, reported the Las Vegas Optic.
  • All school athletics, of course, will also be canceled for the rest of the academic year.