The daily recap of New Mexico COVID-19 news (3/29/20 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.

  • The state Department of Health announced a second person has died with COVID-19. The DOH also announced on Saturday afternoon that there are 17 new cases of COVID-19, a disease caused by a coronavirus, in the state. The new cases bring the state’s total to 208 cases. Read our story here.
  • The Navajo Nation announced Saturday night that there are now 115 confirmed positive COVID-19 cases on the Navajo Nation, including 18 in New Mexico.
    Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez will implement a curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily, beginning Monday. He will host an online town hall meeting on Sunday at 1 p.m. on Facebook and KTNN-AM 660.
  • The DOH also announced the launch of two new online tools for New Mexicans to use during the COVID-19 outbreak: an online portal where people can get COVID-19 test results, and a website that can tell individuals if they need to be tested. Read the story here.
  • The Albuquerque Journal spoke to a couple in their late 60s, who had traveled to New York, who tested positive for COVID-19 and now believe they are through it. The couple had relatively mild symptoms.
  • A VA Hospital in Albuquerque told workers not to wear face masks ” unless they have lingering respiratory symptoms after an illness, are under surveillance following COVID-19 exposure or are treating patients showing signs of COVID-19″ according to a report by New Mexico In Depth and Propublica.
  • Testing will head to Luna County beginning on Tuesday, the Deming Headlight reported.
  • Government entities are trying to figure out how to shift to new ways of doing things to work remotely and do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19. The Santa Fe New Mexican wrote about the efforts and the challenges.
  • The Albuquerque Journal wrote about what it means for non-essential healthcare procedures to be delayed for the next few months to save PPE for emergencies.
  • United Way of Santa Fe County is now offering free child care assistance to healthcare providers and first responders during the public health emergency. Care will be available beginning Monday, March 30, 2020, for children ages six-weeks to ten years old, from 7:30am until 5:30pm, Monday through Friday. More information here.
  • Homeless shelters in Santa Fe are using city and county funds to provide hotel rooms for the city’s most at-risk homeless. The Santa Fe Reporter has the full story
  • The Las Cruces Sun News has a great round-up of how the city is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, including hospital preparations, restaurant closures, and community initiatives. 
  • Nonprofits in the Española area are pitching in to expanded meal access for schoolchildren, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.
  • The Holy Cross Hospital in Taos is closing to public visitors Saturday after the county reported five new cases of COVID-19, Taos News reported.
  • Nearly all UNM courses will be done remotely for the rest of the year, and students will be able to opt out of grades and convert courses to pass/fail if they wish. The Albuquerque Journal reported on the changes.
  • As the total number of cases in Taos has grown to 8, community groups are asking visitors to stay away. A post on the Taos.org website, which is run by a public/private partnership between the town and tourism groups, asks potential visitors to stay away, according to Taos News.
  • The Town of Taos canceled all summer events, reported the Taos News.
  • The Gila Regional Medical Center, which is Grant County’s only full-service hospital, said it began early preparations for a possible influx of COVID-19 cases, the Silver City Daily Press reported. Officials described the hospital’s multi-phase COVID-19 “surge plan” to trustees during a recent virtual meeting. 
  • Las Cruces Utilities won’t shut off services during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • KOB-TV spoke to the Chief of the Infectious Disease Division at the University of New Mexico said there are a number of reasons why COVID-19 spread faster in New York than New Mexico—more travelers and higher density being chief among them. Plus, New Mexico’s governor was aggressive in mandating social distancing early.
  • Republican state Rep. Rod Montoya, who represents Farmington, criticized the state’s Democratic leadership for the economic impacts of business closures during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
    “Economic concerns have been ignored up to this point. Worries over New Mexico’s economy have been dismissed out of hand. House Speaker Brian Egolf claims New Mexico “is not in a fiscal crisis.” I couldn’t disagree more,” Montoya wrote, calling for a special session of the state legislature. Read the full post here.
  • The U.S. Forest Service has closed developed recreational sites, camping grounds and day-use areas across all National Forests in the state, but officials later clarified the “vast majority of the forest” still remains available to visitors. “At this time, recreation opportunities include hiking and biking on trails, dispersed camping and other activities that support social distancing and small groups (less than 5 people).” 
  • The Albuquerque Journal wrote about how people are flocking to outdoor areas.
  • State Tourism Secretary Jen Schroer said Friday that the state canceled its spring national tourism campaign and will cancel all upcoming events related to certain tourism events, Associated Press reported
  • The $2.2 trillion package passed by Congress should be able to help breweries in addition to other small businesses.
  • Navajo Nation president Jonathan Nez said Naat’áani Development Corporation and Molina Healthcare have been trying to “scam the public” during the COVID-19 pandemic. NDC had criticized Nez for vetoing legislation that would have had the entity be able to access Medicaid funds to address COVID-19. Read the Navajo Times story.
  • The Santa Fe New Mexican reported on how people are pitching in to do what they can to aid the fight against COVID-19, including making masks and other equipment.
  • New analysis from the University of Washington predicts the COVID-19 outbreak may reach its peak by mid to late April. Modeling from the UW’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation predicts hospitalizations will peak in mid-April across the nation, by timing may vary state by state.
    The Albuquerque Journal noted this is just for the first wave of the pandemic.
  • New Mexico State University is offering online courses for 4-H.
  • An Eddy County Sheriff’s Deputy responded to a crash; the victim had flu-like symptoms and was on the way to the hospital, KRQE-TV reported
  • Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller and officials gave an update on the COVID-10 outbreak in Albuquerque. KRQE-TV has more on the briefing.  
  • It appears some states are getting a higher amount of medical equipment from the national stockpile than others, according to a Washington Post report. Massachusetts received 17 percent of what it requested; Maine received just 5 percent. And Colorado only got enough for one full day of statewide operations, a Republican congressman told the White House. Florida, meanwhile, received its full request three days after its request, then an identical shipment a week and a half later. A third shipment is coming as well. New Mexico received 25 percent of what it requested, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said.