April 8, 2020

The daily recap of New Mexico COVID-19 news (4/8/20 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.

See all of our COVID-19 coverage here.

  • The DOH’s most recent announcement on the amount of confirmed COVID-19 cases includes over 100 new New Mexico cases, bringing the state’s total to 794. And the state said they found clusters at San Felipe Pueblo and Zia Pueblo. See more details here.
  • The Navajo Nation reported an additional 42 cases, bringing the total positive cases across the Navajo Nation to 426. Of those, 109 are in New Mexico, an increase of 37 over Monday’s announcement. This includes an increase of 17 cases in San Juan County.
    • The Navajo Nation said they are looking at locations for Federal Medical Station sites in Shiprock, NM; Crownpoint, NM;  Fort Defiance, AZ and other locations; they are already assessing locations in Kayenta and Tuba City, both in Arizona.
    • Some students and school workers on the Navajo Nation have symptoms of COVID-19. This came after at least one school stayed open even after Arizona’s schools were closed; schools on the Navajo Nation are operated by the federal Bureau of Indian Education. See the story from The Arizona Republic and ProPublica.
  • A patient at the Gallup Detox Center tested positive. The center is now on lockdown, the Navajo Times reported.
  • The President of the Mescalero Apache Tribe said roads into reservation lands will be blocked, the Ruidoso News reported.
    “Despite our orders, people are still entering the land and fishing at Mescalero Lake. We will now block the roads and anyone in violation will be escorted off the property, cited and fined,” he said. 
  • Two residents and seven employees at a Farmington nursing home have tested positive for COVID-19, reported the Farmington Daily-Times. All residents have been tested, and the nursing home is awaiting results.
  • Freeport-McMoRan confirmed that three mine workers at the Chino Mine in Grant County have tested positive for COVID-19. The Silver City Daily Press quoted Lt. Gov. Howie Morales as saying one confirmed positive in Tucson, AZ, one in Grant County, NM and one in Doña Ana County, NM.
  • The Albuquerque Journal looked at the pending case that seeks to move the state’s primary elections in June to an all-mail election. Most county clerks and the Secretary of State want a system to send ballots to all eligible voters (only those registered to a major party are eligible to vote in New Mexico’s primaries); the Republican Party and a handful of county clerks want an all-absentee ballot election, which would require people to request absentee ballots.
  • The State Department of Corrections released two inmates ahead of schedule because of concerns with COVID-19. An attorney with the ACLU of New Mexico called it “completely inadequate.” Read the Santa Fe New Mexican story here.
  • A group of home health organizations say they could help relieve some of the burden on hospitals from COVID-19—if they had the proper personal protective equipment. Read our story.
  • The Santa Fe New Mexican reported on how New Mexico has been ahead of the curve in addressing COVID-19.
  • The Mayor of Pecos said people from outside the area are congregating in large groups in and around the village
  • The governor’s office answered some questions from the faith-based community on services during the COVID-19 era, which is especially important as Passover and Easter are taking place soon, with Ramadan not far after. Read the FAQ here.
  • State environmental and energy regulators have scaled back some enforcement during the COVID-19 crisis. Read our story here.
  • The State Department of Workforce Solutions is making changes to address the flood of unemployment claims that overwhelmed the state’s systems, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
    • Those filing for unemployment in New Mexico won’t have to wait the standard week after filing for unemployment, DWS announced.
  • The City of Santa Fe closed playgrounds, skate parks and basketball courts. But parks and trails will remain open, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.
  • Another cancellation in Santa Fe: The International Folk Art Market; it’s the third and final big art market in the state capital to announce it won’t happen this year. Details in the Santa Fe Reporter.
  • A UNM Board of Regents meeting that would have allowed medical students to graduate early was canceled because of a guidance by an accreditation body. The Daily Lobo has the story.
  • Rio Rancho’s mayor is telling people to stay at home. Sandoval County has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases, largely driven by the clusters on two pueblos.
  • The Las Cruces Fire Department is issuing temporary maximum occupancy signs for businesses that remain open. Retail businesses that remain open have had their maximum occupancy reduced to 20 percent of the previous maximum.
  • School districts across the state are preparing for distance learning, as in-person instruction is closed for the rest of the year.
  • The City of Albuquerque is spending about $100,000 per day while responding to COVID-19 so far, the Albuquerque Journal reported. That number 
  • The New Mexico Environment Department said it’s OK for food establishments, like restaurants and other eateries, to offer grocery items like toilet paper alongside take-out and delivery items.
    “Social distancing is the best weapon we have in fighting the spread of COVID-19. By getting not only meals but also necessary items like toilet paper and hand sanitizer using pick-up and delivery options, New Mexicans can slow the spread of COVID-19,” said New Mexico Environment Department Cabinet Secretary James Kenney. “Our Food Program will continue to ensure that restaurants are operating in a safe and sanitary way with state public health orders.”
  • Nurses at UNM Hospital are petitioning for hazard pay for working during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Eastern New Mexico News reported on the new challenges the Clovis Fire Department face during the pandemic.
  • MAKE Santa Fe is doing their part to make PPE, the Santa Fe Reporter reported.
  • U.S. Sen. Tom Udall joined Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, and other Democrats in calling for a fund to pay $25,000 in pay increases for essential workers, the equivalent of a $13 per hour raise from the start of the public health emergency until the end of the year, and $15,000 recruitment bonus for essential workers. You can hear the call here, including Udall’s statements at the 11:38 mark, here.
  • U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small continues to push for funding for rural healthcare and led a bipartisan letter to House leadership on the topic.
    “New Mexico is experiencing the public health and economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic. While Congress has worked in a bipartisan fashion to begin to address this crisis, we must do more to support local and state governments that are incurring significant costs responding to this pandemic,” said Assistant Speaker Luján. “This legislation ensures that all communities receive the direct relief they need and I will continue to fight to provide our local communities with the necessary resources needed to overcome this crisis.” 
  • U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján joined three other Democrats in introducing a bill called the Coronavirus Community Relief Act, that would provide $250 billion in funding for local communities in light of the COVID-19 crisis.
    “New Mexico is experiencing the public health and economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic. While Congress has worked in a bipartisan fashion to begin to address this crisis, we must do more to support local and state governments that are incurring significant costs responding to this pandemic,” said Assistant Speaker Luján. “This legislation ensures that all communities receive the direct relief they need and I will continue to fight to provide our local communities with the necessary resources needed to overcome this crisis.” 
  • The State Investment Council formalized a $100 million recovery fund.
  • State Rep. Gail Armstrong sent a letter to the congressional delegation asking for additional Opportunity Zones in the state.
  • The pandemic is changing every aspect of life. KRQE-TV looked at the changes to co-parenting.
  • The Los Alamos County Manger unveiled the county’s proposed budget—but he noted it was created before the full scope of the COVID-19 pandemic became apparent, the Los Alamos Monitor reported.
  • The Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino donated $2 million for the coronavirus recovery. See the story in the Las Cruces Sun-News.
  • The financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the New Mexico Athletics Association was huge; the organization that runs high school athletics in the state lost $500,000 after most state basketball tournament games took place without fans, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported. All spring sports have been canceled.