April 15, 2020

The daily recap of New Mexico COVID-19 news (4/15/20 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.

  • The State Supreme Court rejected a petition to move the primary elections to primarily mail-in to avoid spreading COVID-19. Instead, the court ordered election administrators to send absentee ballot applications to all eligible voters. See our story here.
  • The state announced 62 new cases and five additional deaths related to COVID-19 Tuesday. That brings the state to 1,427 test positive cases and 36 deaths. Read our story here
  • The Navajo Nation announced the number of positive cases reached 838, and the number of deaths reached 33. The number of New Mexico cases is now 284, an increase of 18 over Monday’s announcement.
    • Rapid testing results are available at the Gallup Indian Medical Center and Arizona’s Chinle Comprehensive Health Facility, the Navajo Times reported.
  • As the Navajo Nation gets hit hard by the spread of COVID-19, some worry about health impacts of oil and gas drilling. Read our story here.
  • A GoFundMe fundraiser is seeking to aid chapter houses in the ‘far east’ in San Juan County. Read our story here.
  • On Tuesday, the state announced a portal with more information on testing. The information includes the amount of tests conducted in each county, the number of people who are currently hospitalized and the total number of people who have been hospitalized, a statewide breakdown by ethnicity and more.
    The numbers say that 36.7 percent of those who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the state are American Indian and Alaska Native, the census-designated term for Indigenous peoples; according to the latest census estimates, 10.9 percent of the state’s population is American Indian and Alaska Native. See the dashboard here.
    • New Mexico In Depth wrote more about the numbers on minorities.
    • The Albuquerque Journal looked at the new COVID-19 data portal launched by the state today. The site features a county-by-county breakdown of confirmed coronavirus cases by age, gender and ethnicity, along with testing numbers by county. 
  • The state’s public defender office and ACLU-NM filed a petition with the New Mexico Supreme Court, asking justices to implore the state to release more inmates as a way to slow the spread of COVID-19 in jails. Read our story here.
  • Officials said that effective social distancing could be helping slow the spread of COVID-19 in Santa Fe County.
  • The Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center is putting 300 employees on leave for up to 90 days due to low patient volumes, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.
  • Two hospitals in Las Cruces are also putting employees on temporary leave or furlough, the Las Cruces Sun-news reported.
  • The administrator of Plains Regional Medical Center in Clovis told Curry County commissioners that the peak amount of cases is expected to hit in early May, later than previously expected because of social distancing efforts, the Eastern New Mexico News reported. He also gave updates on the amount of beds, ventilators and more.
  • KUNM looked at how people of different faiths are dealing with the COVID-19 and the change in how they are able to worship. Listen to the story here.
  • The University of New Mexico got a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Air Force to make PPE for health care workers via 3D printers, KOB-TV reported.
  • In a press conference on Tuesday, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said the city provided 140 “microgrants” of $5,000 to small businesses with 5 or fewer workers, including the owner. Keller said that some of the grantees had been in business for decades and were in danger of going out of business without help. In all, 1,300 small businesses applied. 
  • U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall signed onto a letter from Democrats in the Senate to Vice President Mike Pence, who is in charge of the federal government’s COVID-19 response, asking for information about the Trump administration’s roles in distributing personal protective equipment. From the letter:
    Although FEMA is paying to bring much-needed medical supplies into the United States, upon arrival, FEMA is allowing private distributors to deliver these items to hospitals, nursing homes, and health centers based on existing contractual relationships with minimal guidance on which areas or facilities should be prioritized based on need. Only half of the allocated supply is sent to areas considered to be hotspots, while the other half is given to distributors to fill existing orders in their “normal supply chain.”
  • The Los Alamos National Lab reported the first case of COVID-19 among its lab workforce, according to the Los Alamos Reporter. Two previously reported cases associated with LANL were among the Department of Energy contractor N3B. 
  • KOB-TV reported on gun range and gun store owner Louie Sanchez, who dropped out of the race for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination, saying he will defy the state’s public health emergency order and reopen. The state says he can stay open for law enforcement by appointment only.
  • COVID-19 tests for all 33 inmates and five jailers who came into contact with one inmate who later tested positive for the disease at the Santa Fe County jail  came back negative, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.
  • Dairy farmers in New Mexico are hurting and dumping milk, KRQE-TV reported; while there is higher demand at grocery stores, one dairy owner said most of their sales go to places that are closed because of social distancing orders.
  • The Otero County Commission voted to say county elected officials and employees who travel out of state need to self-isolate for 14 days and take leave if they cannot work, the Alamogordo Daily News reported. Commissioner Couy Griffin, a staunch Donald Trump supporter who has downplayed the risk of COVID-19, voted against the resolutions. He was out of state during the meeting on a ride from San Francisco to New York City and joined by speakerphone.
  • The New Mexico Environment Department sent guidance on Tuesday that suggested all restaurant and grocery store workers should wear gloves and a face covering. Restaurants and other places that serve food are currently only open for takeout or delivery.
    “Wearing a face covering and gloves is an essential step restaurants and food delivery services can take to fight the spread of COVID-19,” said NMED Cabinet Secretary James Kenney. “The Environment Department is ensuring these best practices are followed by conducting routine and complaint-based inspections of restaurants.”
  • The City of Gallup banned alcohol sales at convenience stores, KOAT-TV reported.
  • Doña Ana county declared a countywide emergency, which will allow the county to access more money tio address the disaster. It will not impose any new restrictions on residents.
  • The Village of Ruidoso isn’t seeing much change in the need for village services, the Village Manager told the Ruidoso News.
  • The Taos News wrote about a new coalition of organizations in the Enchanted Circle area that are working to distribute supplies amid the pandemic.