Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew like the one now in effect in El Paso could be on the horizon for Albuquerque if the city doesn’t get the coronavirus spread under control. Keller and Dr. Mark DiMenna, a deputy director for the city’s Environmental Health Department, spoke Wednesday during a live teleconference about the increasing rate of virus transmission and actions the city is taking to try to reduce the spread and help local businesses survive. “What we’re seeing in El Paso is what Albuquerque could look like in the next few weeks or months if we don’t get it under control,” Keller said. “Curfews could be on the horizon.”
DiMenna said Albuquerque is seeing new cases “increasing at a faster and faster rate.”
Last week the city had a 4.7 percent positivity rate. This week the city’s positivity rate went up to 8.7 percent, he said.
The West Side Emergency Housing Center reported 17 cases of COVID-19 Thursday. The individuals who tested positive for the disease are in isolation and receiving medical care for their symptoms, according to the City of Albuquerque, which issued a news release late Thursday afternoon. The shelter houses about 400 individuals each night, according to the release, but it can house up to 450 people. Until 2019 the shelter only housed people during the winter months, but Mayor Tim Keller converted it into a year-round facility. Though it remains open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for families during the public health emergency, the shelter is not currently accepting new residents and transportation to the facility has been suspended, according to the release.
A report by the Urban Institute found that homelessness in Albuquerque has nearly quadrupled since 2013. In 2013 there were 144 homeless in Albuquerque but in 2019 there were 567, according to the report.
The City of Albuquerque funded and assisted with the nonprofit research organization’s report, which was released Wednesday. Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller devoted his daily press conference to discussing the report and called the report’s findings “sobering.”
Albuquerque Deputy Director of Housing and Homelessness Lisa Huval said the pandemic is “likely to exacerbate housing instability.”
“More households are struggling,” she said. Keller mentioned that the city’s West Side Shelter went from winter only availability to year-round availability for the city’s homeless shortly after he took office as one way the city has worked to help those who need it to have a bed to sleep in. The city operates the West Side Shelter, which is near the Double Eagle Airport.
The City of Albuquerque is still working out the kinks in its plan to protect some of the most vulnerable of its populace – its homeless – during the coronavirus pandemic. Albuquerque manages an emergency shelter, commonly called the West Side. It can house up to 450 people a night. Because of the outbreak of COVID-19, a type of coronavirus, officials have recommended washing hands regularly, staying at home and social distancing when engaging with others to prevent the spread of the disease. But people who are homeless might not be able to adapt as easily, according to advocates.