April 21, 2020

The daily recap of New Mexico COVID-19 news (4/21/20 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.

  • Before the COVID-19 public health emergency, hospitals tossed out expired personal protective equipment that would now be considered useful amid worldwide shortages. Read the Searchlight New Mexico story here.
  • The state announced three additional deaths from COVID-19, bringing the total to 58, and said that total cases are nearing 2,000. McKinley County continues to see its numbers skyrocket. See the details here.
    • The Eastern New Mexico News wrote about rancher Paul Quintana, who died of COVID-19 in Tampa after contracting it on a cruise ship. Quintana is the first confirmed COVID-19 death of an Eastern New Mexico resident.
  • There are now 1,321 positive cases on the Navajo Nation, and 43 deaths. According to the Navajo Times, this includes border town cases. The Navajo Nation did not release numbers on Sunday.
    • Of the numbers, 523 are in counties in New Mexico. That’s 54 more than the total the Navajo Nation announced on Saturday. Of the New Mexico cases, 306 are in McKinley County.
  • New Mexico is one of 17 states using technology from an artificial intelligence software firm to help manage contact-tracing and resource distribution related to COVID-19 cases. Read our story here
  • The Santa Fe New Mexican wrote about the City of Santa Fe’s planning in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, using emails obtained from an open records request.
  • Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino will be used to house tribal members from around the state, not just Pojoaque, who have tested positive for COVID-19, KOB-TV reported
  • The Navajo Nation Council will meet in spring session with delegates attending by teleconference, while the Speaker will be in the chambers, the Farmington Daily-Times reported.
  • Oil and gas prices plummeted on Monday to negative territory for the first time in history, in large part because of reduced demand because of COVID-19. That will have a big impact on the state’s budget. Read our story here.
  • The sister of an 87-year-old woman at a healthcare facility who tested positive for COVID-19 said she isn’t able to get any answers from the facility. KRQE-TV spoke to the concerned sister.
  • As unemployment woes continue, the state is close to setting up a website to take claims from self-employed, contractors and gig-workers who lost work because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.
  • Jails are implementing COVID-19 protocols, the Farmington Daily-Times reported. So far, no one has tested positive for the disease at either the adult or juvenile facilities in the county. The danger of the spread in jails and prisons is highlighted by an Ohio prison where over 1,800 inmates and over 100 staff members tested positive. It’s the single largest known source of confirmed COVID-19 cases anywhere in the United States.
  • Seventeen mayors signed onto a letter supporting Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and her efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 in her public health emergency order, KOB-TV reported. The mayors of Albuquerque and Rio Rancho did not sign on, but both voiced support for the governor.
  • New Mexico businesses are still being told to apply for paycheck protection loans as legislation to add more money to the quickly exhausted program stalled on Monday, the Albuquerque Journal reported. But there is some backlash over chains like Ruth’s Hospitality Group, which includes the Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse chain, getting access to the loans as opposed to smaller businesses.
  • The Santa Fe Food Depot is not taking any food donations during the pandemic, instead asking people who can donate money to do so, the Daily Lobo reported. Food banks generally support cash donations more than food donations because they can choose what to buy and get better deals from grocers than the public does.
  • An Albuquerque city councilor said during Monday’s city council meeting that city inspectors should keep inspecting restaurants, the Albuquerque Journal reported. While restaurants are closed to in-person diners, they can serve delivery and to-go orders.
  • Officials have converted the parking lot of Milne Stadium in Albuquerque to a helipad in preparation of the possibility of needing to send patients from northern Arizona and the Navajo Nation, the Arizona Republic reported. Health officials in Flagstaff have said that the hospital there is already at its limit.
  • Kirtland Air Force Base announced that beginning April 21, all people over the age of two entering the 377th Medical Group Facility must wear face masks while in the building, regardless of symptoms. The air force base had already required face coverings at its commissary earlier this month.
  • Cryptocurrency scammers are targeting those worried about COVID-19.
  • The state relaxed the restrictions on nurseries, according to the Santa Fe Reporter. The alt-weekly had written about the inclusion of nurseries before.
  • U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich joined other Senators in asking the Trump administration to automatically extend work authorizations for those with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status and those with Temporary Protected Status. According to the two, there are 1,900 DACA recipients in New Mexico and 382 recipients. Read the letter here.
  • Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office announced Monday that it was ramping up the amount of personal protective equipment (PPE) sent to local communities in the state.
    In a press release, Lujan Grisham said the state is “leaning in unequivocally” to help provide first responders safety equipment.
    “If they’re not protected, we’re not protected,” Lujan Grisham said. “And we will do everything in our power to keep it that way.”
    According to the release, the state has been working “aggressively and proactively” to supply hundreds PPE orders as a supplement to the federal stockpile.
    More than 600 orders, which included tens of thousands of gloves, face masks, N95 masks and gowns, were sent to medical facilities, according to the release and more than 100 orders were sent to long-term and extended living facilities.
    The governor’s office also said the state is continuing to contact hospitals and medical clinics to assess the demand of PPE.
  • The Taos News wrote about how the rural hospital Holy Cross Medical Center is faring during the pandemic. 
  • The city of Santa Fe is facing a $46 million budget shortfall in the current fiscal year due to a sharp decline in gross receipts tax revenue as most businesses have closed or are operating at a minimum. The Santa Fe New Mexican has the story
  • A Walmart parking lot in Albuquerque has been converted into a COVID-19 testing site for first responders and health care workers, the Albuquerque Journal reported
  • The City of Las Cruces is encouraging residents and businesses on the public health emergency orders, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported.
  • The New Mexico Community Foundation has created a Native American Relief Fund to provide emergency grants to tribal communities and organizations to bring food, water, and other emergency supplies to critical areas. 
  • U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small signed on to a bipartisan letter to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, urging the department to establish a rural COVID-19 task force. The task force would help identify rural challenges and develop policy recommendations. Read the letter here
    • Torres Small said rural communities are struggling to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic without access to adequate federal relief. “Rural hospitals fight tooth and nail to keep their doors open to serve patients, dairy farmers are running out of money to feed their cows, and kids are trying to homeschool with no internet access,” Torres Small said in a statement
  • About 20 cars drove around the Roundhouse in protest of restrictions designed to slow the spread of COVID-19, the Santa Fe Reporter reported. Polls have shown that a majority of Americans agree with the measures taken by governments to limit the impact of the pandemic.