Editor’s note: This post includes updates related to COVID-19 and its effects on Albuquerque and the rest of the state.
Salvation Army closes area thrift stores
In a move meant to keep the community safe, the Salvation Army says it is closing its Albuquerque and Santa Fe thrift stores until further notice.
Each store will continue to accept donations and the organization will continue to offer social services to people who are in need.
“If you have a need, please do not hesitate to call on us,” Capt. Dwaine Breazeale, The Salvation Army’s Albuquerque city coordinator, said. “We are praying for everyone’s health and safety.”
— Katy Barnitz
Laguna Pueblo declares public health emergency
As the number of coronavirus cases in New Mexico continues to climb, the governor of Laguna Pueblo has declared a public health emergency.
Gov. Wilfred Herrera signed the declaration Friday, which lets the pueblo more easily access funds for materials needed to help contain and respond to COVID. Among other possible measures, the declaration also encourages departments to take steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and suspends most out-of-state travel for pueblo employees.
— Katy Barnitz
City hosts phone-in town hall
City leaders are holding a town hall over the phone at 12:30 p.m. tomorrow to help answer coronavirus-related questions from community members.
In a news release Sunday evening, the city announced that participants can register at cabq.gov/townhall.
Mayor Tim Keller and other leaders will take questions from people in Albuquerque who want to learn more about the city’s response to the outbreak.
— Katy Barnitz
Driving directions for Balloon Fiesta Park COVID-19 testing site
The city is asking drivers to enter the new Presbyterian drive-up testing site at Balloon Fiesta Park by taking the southbound Interstate 25 Frontage Road to Balloon Fiesta Parkway.
Balloon Museum Drive will be closed to northbound traffic from Alameda, the city announced in a news release Sunday, and drivers should not use San Mateo north of Alameda.
The new site will offer drive-up coronavirus testing beginning Monday.
— Katy Barnitz
Roadrunner Food Bank affected by panic buying
Panic buying continues and grocery store shelves seem to be emptied immediately after they’ve been restocked, as people face the possible need to self-isolate at home for an unknown time period to keep the COVID-19 coronavirus at bay.
That panic purchasing has had an impact on the Roadrunner Food Bank, since local grocery stores and retailers “haven’t had a lot of excess product for us to pick up,” said Roadrunner spokeswoman Sonya Warwick.
— Rick Nathanson
8 new COVID-19 cases in NM, total now 65
Health officials say eight more New Mexicans have tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the state’s total number of cases to 65.
Among the eight new patients is a 9-year-old boy from McKinley County.
Today’s updated total also adds two cases in Bernalillo County: a woman in her 60s and a man in his 30s; two new cases in Dona Ana County: a woman in her 50s and a woman in her 20s; a male in his 50s from San Juan County; and two men in Santa Fe County: one is his 30s and one in his 40s.
Anyone who is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough and shortness of breath is encouraged to contact his or her health provider or to call 1-855-600-3453.
— Katy Barnitz
Rand Paul tests positive for COVID-19
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said Sunday that he had tested positive for the disease caused by the new coronavirus, becoming the first member of the Senate to report a case of COVID-19. He said in a tweet that he was feeling fine and was in quarantine.
Paul, a doctor, said he has not had symptoms and was tested out of an abundance of caution due to his extensive travel and events. He said he was not aware of any direct contact with any infected person.
Local stores offer shopping hours for most vulnerable
Some grocery and retail stores in New Mexico have changed their hours of operation to allow seniors and those most at risk from COVID-19 to shop without facing regular crowds.
Katrina Hotrum-Lopez, Cabinet Secretary for New Mexico’s Aging and Long Term Services Department, praised the stores.
“Many older adults already face obstacles in day-to-day activities that many of us take for granted. In these particularly challenging times, we are grateful to our wonderful private sector community partners who are working extra hours to accommodate these more vulnerable populations for the good of our communities,” Hortum-Lopez wrote in a release. “They are a bright light and amazing resource as we navigate these unique circumstances.”
In the release, the ALTSD listed some of the stores and their adjusted hours:
“Smith’s locations – throughout New Mexico – Opening early on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 7:00 AM to 8:00 AM, for 60 years of age and older, including waiving pick up fees for seniors.
Walmart locations – throughout New Mexico – Beginning on March 24 through April 28, Tuesdays (only) stores will open one hour early, for those 60 years of age or older.
Target locations – throughout New Mexico – Wednesdays (only) stores will open one hour early, for those individuals who are elderly or have underlying health conditions.
Farmers Country Market – Roswell and Portales — Opening early, from 6:00 AM to 8:00 AM every day (except Sundays for Roswell locations), for seniors ages 60 years of age and older.
La Tienda Thriftway – Carlsbad – Opening early, from 8:00 AM to 9:00 AM every day, for seniors.
Fenn’s Country Market – Artesia – Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays (only), opening from 6:00 AM to 8:00 AM, for seniors.
John Brooks Supermarkets – various locations throughout New Mexico – varies by store, but many including Albuquerque Candelaria location and Santa Fe market to open early on Sundays to serve seniors. Call your local market for details.
Dollar General – various New Mexico locations — Opening one hour early every day, for seniors.
Whole Foods locations – throughout New Mexico – Opening one hour early every day, for those 60 years of age and older.
Albertson’s and Safeway Markets – throughout New Mexico – Tuesdays and Thursdays (only), opening from 7:00 AM to 9:00 AM, for seniors and at-risk populations.
Big Lots – throughout New Mexico – Reserving first hour of every day for seniors and those most vulnerable to COVID-19 virus.”
— Robert Browman
Number of Navajo Nation cases nearly doubles to 26
The number of people infected with the COVID-19 virus on the Navajo Nation nearly doubled Friday to Saturday, from 14 to 26, as residents on the reservation were ordered to stay at home, according to the tribe’s president.
“This includes 18 cases from the Kayenta Service Unit, four from the Chinle Service Unit, three from Tuba City Service Unit, and one from the Crownpoint Service Unit,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez’s office wrote in a news release.
There have been no confirmed deaths due to the virus on the reservation, which has a reported population of more than 350,000 and extends into Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.
Late Friday, the Navajo Nation Health Operations Center ordered all residents to stay at home and all non-essential businesses to close to limit the spread of the virus.
“There are people who are testing negative for COVID-19 and that is good news, but there are still many more tests that the Navajo Department of Health and the Navajo Area IHS are waiting for results and confirmation,” Nez said.
On Saturday, first responders began delivering supplies to residents of Chilchinbeto, an area of about 1,000 people hit particularly hard by the virus.
“We are here to help our Nation get through this time,” Nez wrote. “We will overcome this virus.”
— Robert Browman
Coronavirus tests NM rural health networks
New Mexico is bracing for the possible spread of coronavirus to some of America’s most remote, impoverished communities, as hospitals across the state prepare to convert operating rooms into acute respiratory care units.
Health officials are outlining medical triage strategies in the state that struggles to keep physicians in rural areas. Officials have declined to disclose the number of hospital beds and ventilator machines that could be made available quickly to treat severe coronavirus cases.
NM hospitals mobilize for COVID-19 surge
Only a small fraction of New Mexico’s nearly 60 coronavirus patients were hospitalized as of Saturday. But the possibility of hundreds of such hospitalizations to treat the respiratory virus spurred the state’s biggest hospitals to set up emergency command centers weeks ago.
Nurses are being recruited from Canada. Critical supplies are being stockpiled. State, hospital and city leaders are eyeing in-house offices and out-of-hospital settings, such as at Balloon Fiesta Park, for treatment sites if the demand exceeds available bed space.
— Colleen Heild