May 6, 2020

Recap of New Mexico COVID-19 news (5/6/20 edition)

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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.

  • In a press conference, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham urged New Mexicans to keep social distancing, as COVID-19 continues to spread and the number of cases isn’t trending down in much of the state as much as officials had hoped. See the story here.
    • The governor also said that employees at all restaurants and large retailers will be required to wear face coverings; smaller retailers will be required to wear face coverings later this month.
    • As the state faces a likely budget hole from COVID-19 and the response, Lujan Grisham said the idea of tapping the state’s permanent fund “has merit.”
  • McKinley County, which has a large Native American population, reported more COVID-19 cases Tuesday than the county with the largest density: Bernalillo County, Read our story here.
  • The Navajo Nation Health Command Operations Center announced Tuesday 85 new COVID-19 cases and six additional deaths, bringing it to a total of 2,559 confirmed cases and 79 deaths on the Navajo Nation. 
    • Of the total cases, 1,040 are in counties in New Mexico. 
  • Scientists are examining whether a new strain of the coronavirus that is more contagious is now the dominant strain worldwide. The study was led by scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Los Angeles Times reported.
  • The Farmington Daily Time wrote about life under lockdown in Gallup.
  • The House Minority Leader, Jim Townsend, R-Artesia, sent a letter to the U.S. Attorney General asking the federal government to investigate alleged constitutional violations during the COVID-19 response.
  • Santa Fe County will reduce the number of polling sites for the upcoming primary, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.
  • Even when things open back up, Farmington businesses are worried about how many customers will show up, the Farmington Daily Times reported.
  • The federal government is finally releasing relief funds for tribal entities through the CARES Act, which became law on March 27. Tribal entities, including some in New Mexico, have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
    The Navajo Nation will receive more than $600 million, according to President Donald Trump.
    • The Navajo Times reported the Navajo Nation government was expecting more than $500 million.
    • U.S. Sen. Tom Udall praised the release of 60 percent of the $8 billion, but still said it was “too little, too late.”
      “I am relieved that the Trump administration is finally beginning to get these dollars Congress provided out the door, especially after the White House and Senate Republican leadership tried to leave Tribes out of the CARES Act altogether. But Native communities needed these resources for their health and economic recovery plans weeks ago. The full fund should have been distributed by now.”
  • Udall was also harshly critical of the Trump administration’s testing response. “We allocated $25 billion dollars to the federal government, to the Trump Administration to come up with a national testing strategy, they have not done so. The big failure right now is the governors’ working hard, don’t have a good partner in the federal government,” said Udall.
    Sen. Martin Heinrich was also critical and said, “Indian Country is seeing some of the most devastating and deadly outbreaks of the coronavirus. Tribal governments in New Mexico and across the country are taking on enormous costs to protect the health and safety of their communities. It is outrageous that Tribes are still waiting more than a month after Congress passed the CARES Act for the Trump administration to deliver all of the urgently needed federal funding assistance they need.”
  • In what he said wasn’t attempt to circumvent the state’s social distancing law, the Sierra County Sheriff deputized churchgoers, KOB-TV reported.
  • The state Human Services Department said they will feed 245,000 children through federal approval for the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Program.
  • The University of New Mexico said they lost $50 million in revenue due to COVID-19, the Daily Lobo reported.
  • The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (ABCWUA) is working to halt shut-offs for nonpayment, and said it will not increase rates this year.
    • ABCWUA sent two emergency tankers to Gallup, each carrying 5,000 gallons of water each, at the request of the state emergency management office to assist Navajo communities that are unable to get water due to the lockdown. 
  • Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said the city’s police department is concerned about the amount of calls being received related to domestic violence and child abuse. The amount of calls is roughly on par with this time last year for domestic violence.
    “The challenge with this is that, because the abuser might be home, there is no safe place for the victim or a witness to call APD,” Keller said. “We are not saying that this actually means domestic violence is flat or that child abuse is flat. We’re very concerned about this, because we expected to see a spike.”Keller emphasized that victims can reach out to advocates, rather than the police, if needed.
    Keller said reports of child abuse have been down “dramatically” compared to last year. 
    “That doesn’t mean our kids are safe,” he said. “Most children don’t report their own abuse, it’s recognized by third parties. If kids are at home, there’s less adults available to see what’s going on.”
    Family Advocacy Center’s Bailey McCullough said the city has seen “a stark decrease in connecting victims with resources after the report.”
    • She urged individuals seeking resources to reach out to the Domestic Violence Resource Center, which has a 24/7-hotline manned by trauma-informed advocates, and can help with physical, emotional or verbal abuse, stalking, and other questions. The services are free and meet social distancing guidelines, and can be used whether or not an individual has reported an incident to police. She also urged anyone who witnesses a domestic violence incident to not hesitate to reach out to police.
      The Family Advocacy Center’s number is 505-924-6000.
      The Domestic Violence Resource Center number is 505-248-3165
      The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE
  • The City of Las Vegas will mandate face coverings by all people in public acter two new positive COVID-19 tests in the area, the Las Vegas Optic reported