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In brief: Friday coronavirus updates

Workers laid off by virus can file for unemployment

SANTA FE — The state Department of Workforce Solutions is making it easier for workers affected by COVID-19 to get unemployment benefits.

Workforce Solutions Secretary Bill McCamley said the agency wants to help workers who have been laid off or had their hours reduced because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The department is also temporarily waiving the work-search requirements for employees affected by COVID-19. They can receive benefits of up to $461 a week, McCamley said.

“We are going to be as flexible and open as we possibly can,” he said Friday.

He encouraged affected workers to file a claim online at or by calling 1-877-664-6984.


UNMH asks for more blood donations amid 60% drop

The University of New Mexico Hospital is asking for blood donations after seeing a “precipitous” drop since COVID-19 cases began surfacing, according to a news release.

“The need for blood donations for trauma victims and other seriously ill patients remains constant, and they are asking members of the public to step up,” the release states.

The New Mexico-Texas region has seen a 60% drop in donations from mobile blood drives in the past week, according to the release, “especially as businesses and schools are canceling scheduled blood donation events.”

The release advises those able “need not fear exposure” to visit the Vitalent blood collection center, 1515 University NE, where infection control measures are in place.


SF County senior centers closed until further notice

Santa Fe County senior centers are closed until further notice and all activities at county recreation centers are postponed, the county said in a news release Friday. The county will deliver meals to high-risk seniors instead of hosting congregate dining and transportation will still be provided to those with serious medical conditions.

The Santa Fe County jail has discontinued visitations. All incoming inmates will be screened for infectious disease, including COVID-19.

County offices will remain open for business, but officials want to limit face-to-face interaction with the public. The county’s teen court program will also be suspended until April 6.

The city of Santa Fe will close all three branch libraries, as well as the Genoveva Chavez and Fort Marcy recreation centers, between March 16 and April 5. Books can be returned when the libraries reopen. City spokeswoman Lilia Chacon said library and recreation center employees are still on their regular schedule, but may be able to work remotely.


Wide range of Rio Rancho city facilities to close

The city of Rio Rancho and its mayor, Gregg Hull, who has signed a resolution declaring a local health care emergency, announced that, effective Saturday, March 14, a number of city facilities will close until further notice. The facilities — and associated services — include Meadowlark Senior Center; Cabezon Community Center; Haynes Community Center; Star Heights Recreation Center; Sabana Grande Recreation Center; Rio Rancho Aquatic Center; Loma Colorado Main Library; Esther Bone Memorial Library; and Haynes Community Center. For more information, go to


PERA offices in ABQ, SF to close until further notice

The Public Employees Retirement Association of New Mexico (PERA) offices in Albuquerque and Santa Fe will be closed until further notice, the agency said Friday.

It’s anticipated the closures will last until state public schools resume normal operations.

“This is not an easy decision, but we are making it in the best interests of our members and staff,” Board Chairman John Melia and Executive Director Wayne Propst said in a joint statement.

Essential services will continue and PERA retirees “will continue regular, monthly retirement benefit payments throughout the period that our offices are closed.”
Also, all investment-related financial transactions will continue to be processed as a limited number of PERA staff, including senior management, will continue to come to the office to manage other day-to-day business transactions.”

Go to for updates.


MDC discontinues in-person visits, classes

Officials are stepping up measures to avoid infection of COVID-19 at the Bernalillo County jail and juvenile detention center, according to a release.

Larry Gallegos, a Bernalillo County spokesman, said the Metropolitan Detention Center has temporarily discontinued visits to the jail and canceled classes at Gordon Bernell Charter School.

“MDC intends for these restrictions to be in place for three weeks; however, MDC will assess these restrictions on a weekly basis,” he said.

Gallegos said inmates will still be allowed to use tablets, phone and mail for communication with attorney and families.

As for the Youth Services Center, he said face-to-face visitation, volunteer activities and classes are canceled. Gallegos said YSC is allowing for more phone visits for families, and “limited access” is being made for probation officers, attorneys and other professional visitors, but they are encouraged to use phone contact “whenever possible.”

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