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Santa Fe watching, waiting on coronavirus

The city of Santa Fe is working to install 120 hand-sanitizing stations around town to help combat the spread of germs in the wake of the coronavirus, Mayor Alan Webber said at a media briefing Monday.

Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber

In addition to the hand-sanitizing stations, the city has been wiping down high-activity areas in its facilities, ranging from doors at City Hall to equipment at its recreation centers.

There have been no reported cases of the deadly virus so far in the state and the mayor said the city is taking a “watch and wait” approach before taking such measures as requiring non-essential city employees to work from home.

On Monday, Santa Fe Public Schools Superintendent Veronica GarcĂ­a issued a ban on all out-of-state and out-of-country trips involving staff and students. The measure affects official SFPS business only, not personal travel.

“We don’t have the authority to regulate personal travel,” said David Carl, SFPS chief community engagement officer.

But many students are likely to take vacations with their families during the district’s March 14-20 spring break.

During his media roundtable, Webber said he is consulting with state and county government officials in crafting a response to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Kyle Mason, the city’s Emergency Management Director, attended a New Mexico Partners in Preparedness convention in Albuquerque earlier this month that focused on how to best protect the public during emergencies.

Although Austin, Texas, canceled the South by Southwest festival showcasing music and technology scheduled to start March 13, Webber said it’s still too soon to tell whether the spread of the coronavirus will impact large gatherings in the City Different.

Among the events that draw many international visitors are the International Folk Art Market and the Santa Fe Opera, which has sold a record number of tickets for its summer 2020 season, Webber said.

The mayor noted that many visitors to Santa Fe drive from nearby states and do not fly, limiting their exposure to germs.

The coronavirus has hit home for the mayor personally. His wife and daughter were due to travel to Japan, and he was going to join them the last week of their trip. But that trip has been canceled, he said.