State agencies still open, public encouraged to access them online or by phone

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham declared a state of public health emergency Wednesday in the light of three presumptive cases of COVID-19 in the state. By the end of the day, her office announced a fourth case. Lujan Grisham’s message to the public was to avoid unnecessary human to human contact, consider not traveling outside of […]

State agencies still open, public encouraged to access them online or by phone

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham declared a state of public health emergency Wednesday in the light of three presumptive cases of COVID-19 in the state. By the end of the day, her office announced a fourth case. Lujan Grisham’s message to the public was to avoid unnecessary human to human contact, consider not traveling outside of the state and work from home if possible. But that can be difficult for state employees whose jobs require them to work directly with the public. 

Lujan Grisham also announced that non-essential state employees would be allowed to work from home. A spokesman told NM Political Report Thursday morning that the governor’s intention was “to keep as many people working at home as possible.”

Tripp Stelnicki, a spokesman for the governor, said Lujan Grisham was not referring to non-essential employees in a technical sense, but instead calling on cabinet secretaries to encourage employees to “telework” if they can. 

“It’s every secretary’s obligation to find a way to execute that,” Stelnicki said. 

But that’s not to say public-facing employees will stop working. Stelnicki said the governor’s office and agencies like the Motor Vehicle Division will still be open to the public, with the caveat that people should try to conduct their business online or by phone as much as possible. 

Within hours of Lujan Grisham’s initial announcement that there were positive tests for  COVID-19 in New Mexico, those cases increased and Thursday morning, the state Department of Health announced a ban on gatherings that include more than 100 people. 

But for some state agencies, there is little room to avoid close human to human contact. 

The state’s Children Youth and Families Department (CYFD) is still required by law to keep in regular contact with some families. 

CYFD spokesman Charlie Moore-Pabst said there are several cases that require caseworkers travel outside of the state, which causes more difficulties since Lujan Grisham put a temporary stop to non-essential out-of-state travel by state employees. 

Mooere-Pabst said CYFD is required to visit any children who are the department’s care on a regular basis. 

“The federal government requires that we put eyes on those children every 30 days,” Moore-Pabst said. 

He said the department is now asking for a temporary waiver to allow those check-ins to happen over the phone or online. 

But otherwise, CYFD workers will continue to do home visits within New Mexico. 

Moore-Pabst added that CYFD is following the governor’s orders and sent some employees home to work remotely. The department is working on technical issues like giving remote access to other employees who could do their jobs at home, Moore-Pabst said. 

And, like the governor’s office, Moore-Pabst said the department still has employees at physical locations to help families. 

“Our offices are all still open and available if you need our services,” he said.

But CYFD is also asking that families try and get their questions answered or concerns addressed over the phone or online if possible. 

Meanwhile, Albuquerque’s 2nd Judicial District announced Thursday that it cancelled two law clinics through the beginning of April. While courts around the state have not shut down, New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Judith Nakamura announced Thursday that court activities and operations would be pared down in light of the confirmed COVID-19 cases. 

“We are working closely with state and local governments and taking steps to ensure that courthouses are safe for jurors, litigants, lawyers, judicial employees, judges and all members of the public,” Nakamura said in a statement. 

Some of those precautions include significantly reducing the size of jury pools, postponing some civil jury trials and enhanced cleaning requirements for those who maintain judicial buildings. 

Since Wednesday, there have been five reported cases of COVID-19 in New Mexico. 

State officials continue to stress that anyone who thinks they may have contracted the virus should not go to the doctor, urgent care or the emergency room. The DOH encourages those showing symptoms of COVID-19 to call DOH. If symptoms are urgent enough to see a doctor immediately, patients are encouraged to call 911.  

We're ad free

That means that we rely on support from readers like you. Help us keep reporting on the most important New Mexico Stories by donating today.

Related

Effort to challenge six laws enacted last year comes to an end

Effort to challenge six laws enacted last year comes to an end

Earlier this month, the New Mexico Supreme Court denied and dismissed the effort to challenge six laws enacted in 2023. The New Mexico Supreme…
Governor to call special session for public safety legislation this summer

Governor to call special session for public safety legislation this summer

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that she will call the Legislature into a special session this summer to address public safety legislation that did…
Emily’s List endorses seven candidates for Legislature

Emily’s List endorses seven candidates for Legislature

Emily’s List, a nonprofit that supports women candidates and reproductive rights, endorsed seven incumbents facing general election opponents in New Mexico legislative elections. All…
NM receives $156M to boost access to solar

NM receives $156M to boost access to solar

New Mexico will receive millions in federal money to increase access to solar power. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced recipients of the $7…
Two PFAS chemicals designated hazardous substances under Superfund law

Two PFAS chemicals designated hazardous substances under Superfund law

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a final rule Friday to designate two types of PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances. Those two chemicals are perfluorooctanoic…
BLM finalizes controversial public lands rule

BLM finalizes controversial public lands rule

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management finalized its controversial public lands rule on Thursday. This rule is controversial because it allows for conservation leasing…
Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican The main things that bring Brayan Chavez to school every day: Seeing, talking to and engaging with…
Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican Brittany Behenna Griffith has a laundry list of adjectives to describe the ideal special education teacher:…
Lawmakers must find consensus on competing education spending plans

Lawmakers must find consensus on competing education spending plans

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican A challenging task awaits New Mexico lawmakers in the next 30 days: Reconciling three very different…
Health workers fear it’s profits before protection as CDC revisits airborne transmission

Health workers fear it’s profits before protection as CDC revisits airborne transmission

Amy Maxmen, KFF Health News Four years after hospitals in New York City overflowed with covid-19 patients, emergency physician Sonya Stokes remains shaken by…
Lujan Grisham, Biden admin announce $10 million in federal funds for tribes, pueblos

Lujan Grisham, Biden admin announce $10 million in federal funds for tribes, pueblos

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Friday $10 million in funding from the federal American Rescue Plan Act was awarded to six tribal nations and…
Proposal to curb executive powers moves to House Judiciary

Proposal to curb executive powers moves to House Judiciary

The House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee discussed a potential constitutional amendment that seeks to limit the governor’s executive powers. The committee approved…
Abortion fund provider rebrands and holds open house

Abortion fund provider rebrands and holds open house

An abortion fund provider unveiled a rebrand and offered an open house in Las Cruces to celebrate the organization’s new name, mission and values. …
Stansbury introduces judicial ethics bill on U.S. Supreme Court steps

Stansbury introduces judicial ethics bill on U.S. Supreme Court steps

U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury announced a bill on Thursday that would, if enacted, establish judicial ethics to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Judicial Ethics…
Politics and abortion, how much will it matter?

Politics and abortion, how much will it matter?

At the national level, abortion is still a high-stakes issue with both major presidential candidates talking about it in their campaigns, but it may…
Abortion fund provider rebrands and holds open house

Abortion fund provider rebrands and holds open house

An abortion fund provider unveiled a rebrand and offered an open house in Las Cruces to celebrate the organization’s new name, mission and values. …
Politics and abortion, how much will it matter?

Politics and abortion, how much will it matter?

At the national level, abortion is still a high-stakes issue with both major presidential candidates talking about it in their campaigns, but it may…
How the AZ Supreme Court decision on abortion impacts New Mexico

How the AZ Supreme Court decision on abortion impacts New Mexico

The Arizona Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that an 1864 abortion ban is enforceable, throwing another state bordering New Mexico into the situation of…
Effort to challenge six laws enacted last year comes to an end

Effort to challenge six laws enacted last year comes to an end

Earlier this month, the New Mexico Supreme Court denied and dismissed the effort to challenge six laws enacted in 2023. The New Mexico Supreme…
Vasquez calls out Republicans for ‘inaction’ on border policy

Vasquez calls out Republicans for ‘inaction’ on border policy

U.S. Rep. Gabriel “Gabe” Vasquez, a Democrat who represents the state’s 2nd Congressional District along the U.S.-Mexico border, cosponsored a resolution on Monday calling…
Politics and abortion, how much will it matter?

Politics and abortion, how much will it matter?

At the national level, abortion is still a high-stakes issue with both major presidential candidates talking about it in their campaigns, but it may…
NM receives $156M to boost access to solar

NM receives $156M to boost access to solar

New Mexico will receive millions in federal money to increase access to solar power. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced recipients of the $7…
Two PFAS chemicals designated hazardous substances under Superfund law

Two PFAS chemicals designated hazardous substances under Superfund law

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a final rule Friday to designate two types of PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances. Those two chemicals are perfluorooctanoic…
New Mexico Voices for Children has new leadership

New Mexico Voices for Children has new leadership

New Mexico Voices for Children, an organization that focuses on tax policy and how it impacts children in poverty, has new leadership. Gabrielle Uballez…

GET INVOLVED

© 2023 New Mexico Political Report