The daily recap of New Mexico COVID-19 news (3/31/20 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 state Department of Health announced two more people died from COVID-19 in New Mexico, bringing the state’s total to four. And 44 new cases brought the total in the state to 281. Read our story here.
  • New Mexico’s testing rate is more aggressive than nearly every other state that hasn’t yet been hit by serious COVID-19 outbreaks, the Albuquerque Journal reported. According to the story, “Deputy State Epidemiologist Dr. Chad Smelser attributed the state’s high rate of testing to the governor’s early push to obtain test kits” along with partnership with TriCore, private laboratories.
  • The Navajo Nation announced three more deaths of those with COVID-19 and 20 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the Navajo Nation as of Monday. The total number of positive tests on the Navajo Nation is now 148; of those, 25 are in counties in New Mexico. The Navajo Nation includes parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.
  • Among the new confirmed cases in New Mexico is one in the Metropolitan Detention Center in Bernalillo County. The Chief Public Defender said it is a “wake up call” to the dangers of COVID-19 spreading in jails and prisons.
  • Most of the state’s county clerks and the Secretary of State want the state supreme court to allow the primary elections to go forward as mail-in elections. The elections administrators say in-person voting would be irresponsible during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read our story here.
  • President Donald Trump said the U.S. Army will build a field hospital that New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the state’s congressional delegation have requested.
  • On the call, she also mentioned the spikes in cases on the Navajo Nation, according to ABC News.
    “The rate of infection, at least on the New Mexico side — although we’ve got several Arizona residents in our hospitals — we’re seeing a much higher hospital rate, a much younger hospital rate, a much quicker go-right-to-the-vent rate for this population. And we’re seeing doubling in every day-and-a-half,” she said.
  • We spoke to a pregnant woman who is coping with giving birth during the COVID-19 pandemic. See our story here.
  • KOB-TV reporter Chris Ramirez says he tested positive for COVID-19 several weeks ago and detailed his recovery.
  • The Santa Fe New Mexican reported on how isolation and stress lead to fears of more domestic violence during the stay-at-home order.
  • Searchlight New Mexico wrote about how the state is helping the homeless population.
  • The City of Santa Fe will provide housing to the homeless at Midtown campus, Mayor Alan Webber said on Monday. The Santa Fe Reporter has the details.
  • The U.S. Bureau of Land Management announced Monday that it will close several developed recreation facilities. However, BLM-managed trails and open spaces remain open across New Mexico.
  • A group of University of New Mexico medical students wanted to help out healthcare providers, so they created Corona Care NM, a grassroots organization that connects volunteers with healthcare workers who need childcare, pet sitting or household chores during the public emergency. 
  • U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich released a guide for small businesses and nonprofits seeking aid from the $2 trillion coronavirus relief passage passed last year. The bill provided $377 billion towards aid for small businesses and nonprofits. See the guide here.
  • Udall and 16 other Senate Democrats wrote to the Federal Trade Commission asking for more consumer protections against price gouging in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the full letter here.
  • The Carlsbad Current-Argus reported on what plummeting oil prices mean for the Permian Basin region’s cash cow.
  • The Arizona National Guard is setting up temporary medical facilities on the Navajo Nation, reported the Navajo Times; the president said he asked Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to do the same on the New Mexico side of theNavajo Nation. 
  • Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller and the city’s Economic Development Department announced a $500,000 relief program aimed at micro-businesses. Businesses from Albuquerque with fewer than five employees, including ownership, that have been in business for at least six months that have experienced financial hardship because of COVID-19 are eligible to apply for the grants. This does not apply to businesses that restrict patronage to those 18 or older (for example, smoke shops or bars). See the city’s website for more information.
  • The City of Las Cruces, meanwhile, debated how to provide $4.75 million in aid to displaced residents of Las Cruces without running afoul of New Mexico’s anti-donation clause. KVIA-TV reported on the hearing.
  • Gannett announced it will furlough newsroom employees one week each month for the rest of this quarter. Gannett operates seven newspapers in New Mexico: The Alamogordo Daily News, Carlsbad Current-Argus, Deming Headlight, Las Cruces Sun-News, Ruidoso News, Silver City Sun-News and the Farmington Daily Times
  • Staff at UNM are concerned about the impacts of COVID-19, reported the Daily Lobo.
  • KRQE-TV spoke to a father in Albuquerque who said his 29-year-old son is in an intensive care unit in Denver after being diagnosed with COVID-19. The son is in a medically induced coma and is breathing with the help of a ventilator.
  • Public schools in Santa Fe have started distance learning, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.
  • The Silver City Daily Press wrote about what Cobre Consolidated Schools is doing to prepare for distance learning, as in-person instruction at public schools won’t return this year.
  • Virgin Galactic said it donated medical supplies “to communities in California and New Mexico.” This includes “several hundred N95 masks” to three hospitals, including MountainView Regional Hospital in Las Cruces.
  • Social distancing and fewer blood drive are leading to fewer donations, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
  • MVD will waive most late fees and other penalties since March 11, the date that the governor first declared a public health emergency.
    “MVD offices have been closed to protect public health. The governor’s action today provides flexibility for customers who are concerned about staying in compliance with New Mexico’s motor vehicle laws,” said Taxation and Revenue Secretary Stephanie Schardin Clarke.
  • The governor released new rules for auto sales during the COVID-19 outbreak. The rules include that only one appointment can take place at a time per dealership, while communication must take place over the internet, phone or text. See the full list of rules at the Las Cruces Sun-News.
  • Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima shared a post that purported to be from Johns Hopkins University on how to avoid COVID-19. It turns out it wasn’t from the university.
  • Darkside Brew Crew, a website that covers the New Mexico brewery scene, checked in with Albuquerque-area breweries that have stayed open for takeout. The website previously asked the same questions to Santa Fe breweries.
  • A man in Santa Fe was charged with assault after he was accused of coughing on a woman and her daughter at Big Lots, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.
  • A Las Cruces resident built what they call a community cupboard in her yard, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported. She stocked it with bottled water, diapers, toilet paper, a book and some canned goods. Like the community “tiny libraries,” she asks people to take something if they need it or to leave something if they can spare it.