April 2, 2020

The daily recap of New Mexico COVID-19 news (4/2/20 edition)

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Note: This daily recap of COVID-19 news from New Mexico is available in a free daily email. Sign up here.

  • A former CDC and WHO official told NM Political Report that officials need to start doing antibody testing to get a better grasp of the spread of COVID-19. Read our interview here.
  • The state announced on Wednesday that a sixth person with COVID-19 died, a woman in her 90s in Sandoval County. Read the story here, which includes an update on the number of COVID-19 cases.
  • Hospitals in the state are preparing for the coming surge in COVID-19 cases. And it doesn’t sound great. From the Albuquerque Journal, which hosted a discussion with executives at Presbyterian, Lovelace and UNM,along with Human Services Secretary David Scrase:
    • The health executives also acknowledged a grim possibility — that their doctors and nurses won’t be able to care for everyone who needs help amid a spike in coronavirus cases. That means updating ethical guidelines to aid in the decision-making.
      But the leaders offered some optimism, too. They said New Mexico’s early moves to close schools and non-essential businesses, ban public gatherings and instruct people to stay home bought some time to prepare for the coming explosion in illness.
  • The Santa Fe New Mexican also wrote about hospital preparedness.
  • The El Defensor Chieftan in Socorro wrote that the Socorro General Hospital has prepared for a surge of patients due to COVID-19.
  • The Navajo Nation announced 40 new cases of COVID-19 on the Navajo Nation. That brings the total to 214 on the Navajo Nation, including 39 in New Mexico. The New Mexico number went up by 13 cases. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer want more test kits and on-site laboratory testing.
  • Searchlight New Mexico spoke to Nitumie Gaabow Champagne, executive director of Community Outreach and Patient Empowerment (COPE), a Gallup-based nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of people with chronic diseases throughout Indian Country, about the high rate of COVID-19 infections on the Navajo Nation.
  • KUNM-FM’s Your NM Gov podcast devoted an episode to the obstacles tribes face in addressing COVID-19. Listen here.
  • Legacy Church in Albuquerque is still planning in-person Easter services in addition to a live-streamed service, KOB-TV reported. Churches are exempt from the governor’s order that closed businesses and nonprofits not deemed essential.
  • Republicans are seeking to block efforts to convert New Mexico’s primary elections to mail-in-only, saying that the state supreme court doesn’t have the power to do so and that it would open the door to fraud. The state supreme court set a date later this month for arguments. Read our story here.
  • The budget situation in New Mexico because of COVID-19, plunging oil prices and more is dire. KRQE-TV spoke to Senate Finance Committee chairman John Arthur Smith and Economic Development Department Secretary Alicia Keyes.
  • A Rio Rancho retirement community is on lockdown after a resident tested positive for COVID-19.
  • A printer in Farmington switched over to manufacturing protective masks, which it is selling by mail order, the Farmington Daily-Times reported.
  • The contractor that provides school bus service to Las Cruces Public Schools told the Las Cruces Sun-News school bus drivers would be helping deliver meals to schoolchildren. The union representing school bus drivers told the paper that it was news to them.
  • The U.S. Treasury Department announced Wednesday that Social Security recipients will automatically receive direct cash assistance from the COVID-19 recovery bill  without having to file tax returns. Earlier, a group of 41 senators, including, both senators from New Mexico, wrote to the Treasury Department to allow those receiving Social Security benefits to receive the direct cash benefit from the COVID-19 recovery bill without needing to file taxes. Read the letter here.
  • A New Mexico medical cannabis business group says its members won’t have sales on 4/20, typically a big sales day for the dispensaries. Meanwhile, a large proveer is once again worried that there is not a large enough supply for patients. Read our story here.
  • Some golfers are frustrated that golf courses are closed, the Albuquerque Journal reported. Though one said he played golf as recently as this week at the private course at Tanoan, a gated community in Albuquerque.
  • Gun safety advocates are worried about domestic violence and access to guns during the state’s stay-at-home order, KOB-TV reported.
  • Bicycle repair shops are now deemed “essential” and can stay open during the state’s COVID-19 public health emergency, the Santa Fe Reporter reported. There are, however, conditions, as the alt-weekly outlined.
  • Even though evictions for inability to pay are suspended during the public health emergency, those that can’t pay may still face late fees after the public health emergency, and can be evicted for other reasons, KRQE-TV reported.
  • The Silver City Daily Press wrote about adjustments funeral homes are making
  • The governor issued an executive order to allow heavier-than-normal vehicles to drive in New Mexico to allow faster transit of emergency relief goods; it would require a special permit through the New Mexico Department of Transportation, which would allow an 88,000 pound weight limit for trucks carrying COVID-19 supplies (which includes food, beverages, medicine, medical supplies, clothing and building materials intended for temporary shelters.), up from the current 86,400 pounds. The permits would be good until July 1.
  • Attorneys are seeking to get vulnerable inmates out of detention on a case-by-case basis.
  • There aren’t any cases of COVID-19 at the Doña Ana County Detention Center; the jail says they are housing all new detainees together for 14 days to limit their interaction with other detainees. That’s all according to the Las Cruces Sun-News.
  • The New Mexico Economic Development Department launched a “Buy for Tomorrow Today” website that aims to help local businesses weather the economic devastation of COVID-19.
  • Otero County suspended its recycling program during the COVID-19 emergency to protect county employees, the Alamogordo Daily News reported.
  • The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southeastern New Mexico reduced the amount of nuclear waste it received over the last three months, the Carlsbad Current-Argus reported.
  • The City of Albuquerque is going to get started early on road and building construction while the city’s roads are emptier than usual during the stay-at-home order.
  • New Mexico Tech’s President wrote about the university’s planning for dealing with COVID-19 in the El Defensor Chieftan.
  • Deming Public Schools Superintendent Arsenio Romero wrote a letter to families in the Deming Headlight.
  • President Donald Trump refused calls to reopen enrollment to the Affordable Care Act because of the COVID-19 crisis. Democratic Party of New Mexico chair Marg Elliston slammed the decision, saying, “As we face the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to be working more diligently than ever to ensure that every American has access to quality, affordable health care. New Mexicans deserve steady and compassionate leadership in this time of crisis, and instead this president has made it clear that he cannot be trusted to put hardworking families first.”
  • Sen. Tom Udall released guidance on the tribal provisions of the most recent federal coronavirus relief package. The summary of tribal provisions is available on Udall’s website, as is an FAQ for tribes, tribal organizations and tribal enterprises.