April 9, 2020

The daily recap of New Mexico COVID-19 news (4/10/20 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.

See all of our COVID-19 coverage here.

  • Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and cabinet officials provided an update on what it is doing to respond to COVID-19, and what it is doing to prepare for the upcoming surge in cases. Read our story here.
  • The New Mexico Department of Health announced one additional death and 124 new cases of COVID-19 in the state on Thursday, the largest single-day amount of positive cases for the state so far, bringing the total to 989 cases. Read the story here
  • The Navajo Nation announced 70 new positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 558. The tribal government also announced two more deaths, bringing the total for the Navajo Nation to 22. Of the total cases for the Navajo Nation, 143 are in New Mexico, an increase of 17 from Thursday’s announcement.
  • Next week, the state Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on a case determining whether the state will conduct its Juen primaries primarily by mail. Interested parties filed briefs in the case this week. Read our story here.
  • The state is starting to craft its economic recovery plan, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
  • Lovelace Health Systems is reducing hours and cutting pay for health care workers, KOB-TV reported. Lovelace told the station in a statement, “To balance the resources needed to care for our sickest patients against the economic impact of postponed visits and the directive to cancel elective surgeries, we have made some difficult workforce decisions. We have made a variety of adjustments including a reduction of hours and compensation, which is expected to last 90 days, but employees may be called back sooner based on need.”
  • The state offered $750 to self-employed people, but only to the first 2,000 who applied. The traffic crashed the website, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.
  • The 2nd Judicial District Courthouse is closed until Monday after an employee tested positive for COVID-19. Read our story here
  • Read our story about the “man camp” near the Village of Columbus, New Mexico, which will house workers to construct the border wall—area residents are wary of bringing in people from around the country during the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • The Las Cruces Sun-News broke the story Thursday that the camp, originally in the village, has been moved.
  • KUNM examined ICE detention, migrants and refugees as COVID-19 spreads. Listen here.
    • The ACLU announced Thursday the First Judicial District Court ordered the release of Yesenia Evans, an inmate held on a “non-serious probation violation” who suffers from a rare autoimmune disorder and is at higher risk of dire consequences if she contracts COVID-19.
      “People involved in the criminal legal system already face heightened risk of COVID-19 infection and the risk is even greater for people with compromised immune systems,”  Lalita Moskowitz, ACLU of New Mexico staff attorney and Equal Justice Works Fellow, said in a statement. “We’re relieved that Ms. Evans will now be home with her family where she can better protect herself.”
  • The Las Cruces Sun News highlighted some “hometown heroes” that have stepped up to help the community respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. The list includes individuals sewing facemasks, cleaning and sanitizing homes, running supply drives, operating community cupboards and more. 
  • U.S. Sen. Tom Udall called on DHS and ICE to reduce mass detention at ICE detention centers.
    • “There is a long history of disease outbreaks in detention facilities,” Udall wrote. “The conditions at detention facilities coupled with the risk factors of COVID-19 transmission create a deep public health risk to everyone entering and detained at detention facilities across the country. The reality of living in close, confined quarters, often with multiple people sharing rooms and any lack of additional cleaning or sanitary precautions creates a tinderbox effect that allows disease to spread rapidly. Among the most at-risk individuals are employees who report to work at detention facilities and prisons and return home to their families on a daily basis.”
  • U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich joined a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators seeking to make sure that money in the COVID-19 relief bill for hospitals includes things to help struggling rural hospitals, saying that the hospitals are at danger of closing because of COVID-19. Read the letter here.
    • Gila Regional Medical Center in Silver City will get an advance Medicare payment of $6.8 million per Heinrich and U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, the Silver City Daily Press reported.
  • The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions will offer $750 in a one-time payment to self employed individuals for the first 2,000 who qualify. For more information, go to www.jobs.state.nm.us.
  • From a regular COVID-19 update from Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller:
    • PNM partnered with New Mexico Small Business Center, activating its call center to help small businesses sift through information on getting aid.
    • Lovelace Hospital opened up a pop-up shop near the hospital so healthcare workers don’t have to go to the grocery store after a shift.
    • Albuquerque hospitals ask that food donations come from local restaurants. They cannot accept homemade food items. To coordinate a restaurant-based food donation to UNM Hospital, contact Barbara Temer via email at BTemer@salud.unm.edu. To donate a restaurant-based food donation to Lovelace Hospital, call 505-727-5414. Presbyterian Hospital requests that restaurant-based food donations be made through the following: Volunteer Services via email at phsvolunteer@phs.org or at the following phone numbers to schedule a delivery at least 24 hours in advance.
      • Presbyterian Downtown: 505-563-8102 or 505-322-5119
      • Kaseman: 505-291-2890
      • Rust Medical Center: 505-659-1994
      • Santa Fe Medical Center: 505-772-6227 or 505-504-8607
  • The City of Albuquerque is offering Wifi on Wheels, free internet at 21 different parking lot locations in the city. Keller said 10 percent to 12 percent of children in the Albuquerque Public Schools lack internet at home, so the Wifi on Wheels program is meant primarily to help them. Residents should look for the Sun Van or other city vehicle with “Wifi access point” sticker on the vehicle. Users can drive up within 100 feet of the mobile unit to access the wifi. Times and days vary at different locations. Keller called it an “experiment” and said there would likely be many tweaks to the process over time. The start up cost for the program is $60,000 and there is a recurring cost of $2,200 per month.
  • The City of Albuquerque has served 25,000 meals to seniors since the public health emergency began.
  • Albuquerque Police say the Metro Detention Center refused to book someone arrested for assault because he was exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19; his test later came back negative.
  • The Town of Taos said more than 150 short-term rentals are operating without licenses; the town is ordering those operating without licenses to cease operations or face fines up to $500 per day, the Taos News reported.
  • An Albertsons employee in Santa Fe tested positive for COVID-19, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported. The individual had not been to work since April 3. The store has tracing who the employee may have had contact with, and is offering those employees 14 days of paid leave from work. 
  • The Catholic Church is asking congregants to “make home the holy place” this Easter weekend, according to the Santa Fe Reporter.
  • Officials in Rio Arriba County have reduced the county’s inmate population by two-thirds, the Rio Grande Sun News reports. Law enforcement have helped reduce overcrowding in jail facilities by no longer arresting people for simple misdemeanors or technical violations of probation. 
  • Dairies are being hit hard by low prices and an excess supply. That includes dairies in New Mexico, the Roswell Daily Record reported.
  • The governor confirmed that local nurseries are no longer considered essential businesses, the Santa Fe Reporter reported.
  • The state Department of Health has opened a new drive-thru testing site at the Tierra Amarilla Rio Arriba County Annex building. 
  • Property taxes for the second half of 2019 in Taos County are still due May 10, the Taos News reported. Taos County Treasurer Susan Trujillo said the state was asked to extend the deadline but decided against it. 
  • The Navajo Nation is on a weekend-long curfew, which means transfer stations, where people can dispose of trash, will be closed.
  • Albuquerque Pride is canceled this year because of COVID-19.
  • Not necessarily COVID-19 news, but OPEC and Russia have a tentative agreement to reduce production. The glut of oil led to plummeting oil prices; but so has the lack of demand, as fewer people are commuting because of the coronavirus crisis. The Albuquerque Journal has the report.