April 5, 2020

The daily recap of New Mexico COVID-19 news (4/5/20 edition)

U.S. Army

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

  • With 51 new test positive cases of COVID-19, the state’s total number reached 543 and one additional death Saturday. The increase included more positive tests at an Albuquerque retirement community, among residents and staff.
  • The Navajo Nation announced 51 new cases, bringing the total to 321. That includes 54 cases in New Mexico, nine more than the previous day’s announcement. The Navajo Times reported that the Arizona National Guard delivered PPE for use by Navajo Nation officials to combat the spread of the virus. The Albuquerque Journal reported on volunteers delivering supplies to Native communities impacted by COVID-19. 
  • Domestic violence shelters are emptier than usual, maybe because those who would normally seek help fear contracting COVID-19, Searchlight New Mexico reported.
  • The Associated Press, citing the Gallup Independent, reported that the El Rancho Hotel in Gallup will offer its rooms for homeless people affected by COVID-19 as well as, in a separate building, health care workers. Officials expect the first surge of cases to hit the area.
  • The Albuquerque Journal examined the “contact tracing” that the state does on those who have tested positive for COVID-19, trying to trace the spread of the disease. The DOH has 60 staff members doing trace work, which is done by phone; those who came into contact with the positive case are told to quarantine or isolate themselves.
    The story also revealed that multiple health care worked have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • The Santa Fe New Mexican looked at responses from nurses to a survey on their thoughts on COVID-19.
    • “What is the plan when we run out of beds?” one anonymous survey respondent asked. “How much risk are we expected to take?”
  • Small businesses have until June 30 to access the allocated $349 billion for loans from the federal stimulus bill, called the Cares Act. The loans will be made on a first-come, first-serve basis. The stimulus bill established two types of loan programs for small businesses: the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program and the Paycheck Protection Program. Small businesses can apply directly through the federal government or they can apply through the Small Business Administration Developmental Centers. Under the Paycheck Protection Program, a small business can borrow up to $10 million, with an interest rate of 1 percent. The loan is deferrable for six months. The New Mexico Economic Development Department has also created loan-guarantee and no-interest loan programs for businesses, according to a news release.
    “This money will go quickly, and New Mexico small businesses must act as soon as possible to obtain loans,” Economic Development Secretary Alicia Keyes wrote Saturday through an emailed statement. “Many businesses struggling through this crisis need a financial bridge to help them survive and recover once this crisis eases.”
  • The Santa Fe New Mexican reported that many who have tested positive for COVID-19 say they don’t want to be identified because of possible stigma and attention. Others who have recovered say they want to share their stories.
  • The 99th Annual Santa Fe Indian Market announced it has canceled the 2020 August event and the market won’t return until 2021, The Santa Fe New Mexican reported Saturday. The market draws an estimated 120,000 to the city each year. The Southwestern Association for Indian Arts hopes to hold a mini-market this summer instead.
  • Political campaigns, which can no longer hold in-person fundraisers or rallies, are going online, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
  • Nurses from Roswell traveled to New Jersey to help out for two weeks, the Roswell Daily Record reported.
  • Riverfest, in the Four Corners area, will also be canceled. It was scheduled to take place on April 2, the Farmington Daily Times reported.
  • The UNM Bureau of Business and Economic research displayed research on the economic impact of COVID-19 on the state on their website, along with a podcast.
  • Stores in Las Cruces are implementing restrictions to promote social distancing, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported.
  • From a regular COVID-19 update from Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller:
    • The city is “looking at” the Albuquerque Convention Center as a possible additional facility if it is needed for medical services during COVID-19. Keller said the 300,000 square foot building could be used to place additional hospital beds in the track and field auditorium. The west side of the center could be used for other emergency services which would be nonmedical. Keller said the city doesn’t anticipate it would need the facility for “the next 10 days.”
    • Keller said that the city will open hotels for emergency shelter for the city’s essential service workers who test positive for COVID-19. The city also plans to use hotels to house some of the city’s homeless population as a way to try to protect them from COVID-19. Keller said residents can donate to the One Albuquerque Fund, which helps with housing vouchers for the homeless.
    • The city is rolling out Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocols for temperature checks as people enter city buildings. He said this will begin in the coming week at the Albuquerque Community Center and will eventually be installed in every city building, including City Hall. Keller said he hopes all essential businesses in Albuquerque will begin to implement this and spoke to the local Grocer’s Union.
    • The city has reached out to 158 long-term health care facilities providing guidance and is working with them, in particular, on how the facilities should handle dining, Keller said. The Albuquerque Journal reported that at least one resident of La Vida Llena, where 15 have now tested positive for COVID-19 and one died Friday, said that the facility was still serving food in the dining room. 
    • Keller said the Albuquerque City Council is preparing a relief package of $1 million in available grants to help the city’s organizations working to feed, house and support communities in need during the public health emergency. Councilor Pat Davis crafted the legislation called The Coronavirus Community Support & Recovery Act. The Albuquerque City Council will discuss it during the city council meeting Monday.
    • Keller announced that the city is working on a drive-up wireless program for children and professionals who need wireless access in large parking lots in the city. Keller said there are “a lot of professionals going to the parking lots of Starbucks.”
    • Some manufacturers in Albuquerque have offered to make 3D printed face screens for emergency workers, Keller said.
    • Keller said that Albuquerque’s nearly 100 boards and commissions, whose meetings were canceled for a month due to COVID-19, will soon resume meetings. The city is working out how the meetings can be shown live and allow public comment. 
  • A “normal” week during this time of year would be 600 to 900 jobless claims. Last week, 28,344 residents claimed unemployment, the Santa Fe New Mexican reports.
  • The Albuquerque Journal looked at the impact of COVID-19 and the response on Socorro, a small town south of Albuquerque.
  • A New Mexico State University professor says that divorce rates could go up as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic because women will be likely to be less productive at work because they will be expected to take on the greater share of household and family responsibilities during the governor’s stay-at-home order, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported. 
  • The spread of COVID-19 is affecting everything, including centuries-old traditions like cleaning acequias, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.
  • Kit Carson Electric Cooperative and Comcast are offering free internet hotspots around Taos County.
  • The Los Alamos Monitor reported on the Los Alamos County Council doing assessments of the county’s preparation for COVID-19. The meeting took place before the first confirmed case in the county, which was announced on Saturday
  • The state may allow oil and gas companies to temporarily shut down oil wells in New Mexico. The Santa Fe New Mexican has that story.
  • New Mexico State University Provost Carol Parker told the Las Cruces Sun-News the university may continue with distance learning through both the summer and the fall due to COVID-19. 
  • New Mexico State University Art Museum is curating an art exhibit online during the public health emergency called “Labor: Motherhood & Art in 2020,” the Las Cruces Sun-News reported.