May 15, 2020

Recap of New Mexico COVID-19 news (5/16/20 edition)

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See all of our COVID-19 coverage here.

  • The governor outlined some small changes to the public health emergency order that will go into effect on Saturday. The changes included allowing all retailers to open at 25 percent of fire code capacity, and for places of worship to open at 25 percent of fire code capacity. Read more details here.
    • In the same press conference, Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver encouraged all voters to cast votes via absentee ballots if possible. Read that story here.
  • On Friday, the state of New Mexico announced an additional 164 COVID-19 cases and 11 deaths.
  • The increase in spread among residents nineteen and younger has almost doubled, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.
  • The state of New Mexico has spent $35 million on disaster spending, the Albuquerque Journal reported. House Republicans criticized the spending and argued the governor is only allowed to spend $750,000 for emergencies without legislative approval.
  • The City of Farmington and San Juan County officials opted against a lockdown, similar to the lockdown in Gallup earlier this month, the Farmington Daily Times reported.
  • The mayor of Los Lunas tested positive for COVID-19, the Valencia News-Bulletin reported. He had come into contact with a family member who tested positive for COVID-19.
  • On Friday, the Navajo Nation announced 108 new cases of COVID-19 and no additional deaths. That brings the total to 3,740 positive cases and 127 total COVID-19-related deaths. 
    • The Navajo Nation will have another curfew, this time closing essential businesses all weekend, the Navajo Times reported.
    • Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and actor and activist Sean Penn appeared on MSNBC to discuss COVID-19 on the tribal nation. You can watch it here.
    • Chief Jose Andres, the chef who has in recent years spent much of his time in recent years in disaster zone aiding people in need, was also on the trip.
  • New Mexico’s COVID-19 testing rate shows an amazing low number of cases in prisons compared to other states, New Mexico In Depth reported.
  • The City of Las Cruces will require that everyone, including voters at City Hall, wear face masks or coverings, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported. The state now requires face coverings or masks in all public spaces.
  • The Albuquerque Journal spoke to officials whose businesses are reopening.
  • Food pantries in Northern New Mexico are struggling to keep up with demand, the Taos News reported.
  • New Mexico’s largest Catholic diocese said they will start to reopen, in accordance with the state public health order, the Associated Press reported.
  • Hundreds of protesters gathered in front of a mall in Farmington to demand that businesses be allowed to open in San Juan County. San Juan is one of three counties with more stringent restrictions than much of the state because of the high number of cases in the region.
  • A restaurant in Ruidoso opened its outdoor seating, in defiance of the public health order.
  • All those entering any courthouse or judicial building must wear a face mask, the state Supreme Court ordered on Friday.For those without masks, courts will have masks on hand; judges will be able to remove masks at their discretion when speaking to keep the record clear.
    “State health officials have made it abundantly clear that if each of us wears a mask in public we can help slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives,” said Chief Justice Judith K. Nakamura. “Our courts provide essential services to the public so we continue to take all steps necessary to safeguard the health and well-being of people who work in or need to visit a courthouse.”
  • State Rep. Gregg Schmedes asked the state Attorney General to investigate the eviction of residents from a nursing home that the state is using to house COVID-19 positive individuals. See his letter here.
  • The Lea County manager said the county won’t enforce the state’s public health orders, KOB-TV reported.
  • The Albuquerque Journal reported on Albuquerque Public Schools’ plans for summer learning.
  • House Republicans said they are preparing to sue the governor over the COVID-19 public health emergency order.
    In her press conference on Friday, Lujan Grisham responded and said, “It’s disappointing, particularly when a political arm, instead of working on best practices, tries to politicize this virus”
  • Mimbres Memorial Hospital in Luna County will resume some services that were previously banned by the state’s public health emergency order, the Deming Headlight reported.
  • Libraries in Santa Fe are now open for curbside pickup, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.
  • New Mexico State University’s athletic department is preparing a plan to reopen, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported.
  • Earlier this week, U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan took part in an Energy and Health Subcommittee hearing and questioned Dr. Richard Bright, the former Director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, who filed a whistleblower complaint over the federal government’s COVID-19 response after he was removed from the position. Bright said he was removed for concerns over President Donald Trump’s promotion of an antimalarial drug. See the video of Luján’s portion of the hearing here.
  • The New Mexico Railrunner will remain closed through the end of May, KRQE-TV reported.