Editor’s note: This post includes updates related to COVID-19 and its effects on Albuquerque and the rest of the state.
4 more deaths, 29 new virus cases on Navajo Nation
On Friday, the Navajo Nation reported a total of 270 positive cases of COVID-19 – an increase of 29 cases since Thursday. Reported deaths from COVID-19 on the Navajo Nation reached 12, an increase of four from Thursday’s reports.
At a virtual town hall on Friday, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said enforcement officers would begin issuing citations for those who violate the stay-at-home order and the curfew for the hours between 8:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.
“We’re at a point where the number of new cases will continue to climb each day, unless everyone begins to take this matter serious,” Nez said in a statement. “Today, we received reports of bingo games taking place in a few areas – this needs to stop immediately! We have a public health crisis going on, and this is the type of irresponsible activities that put us all at risk.”
“We have to meet our prayers half way by making smart decisions,” said Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer. “Stay home, stay safe, save lives is the key to ending this pandemic. Unfortunately, it’s going to get worse before it gets better, but we are in this together. Many people are recovering from the virus and we hope to have an estimate on that number soon. Don’t lose hope because we will beat this together.”
President Nez and Vice President Lizer will hold another online COVID-19 update on Sunday at 2 p.m. (MDT) via Facebook. The number for the main Navajo Health Command Operations Center is (928) 871-7014.
— Theresa Davis
Two COVID-19 deaths in ABQ retirement community outbreak
State health officials on Friday confirmed that two residents of an Albuquerque retirement community have now died during a COVID-19 outbreak.
The facility, La Vida Llena, has had 19 residents and three staff people test positive, the New Mexico Department of Heath said Friday.
The deaths include a man in his 80s and a man in his 90s, both of whom had underlying health conditions.
Other test results at the facility, home to 425 people, are still pending.
— Jessica Dyer, Ryan Boetel
3 more deaths, 92 new cases as NM virus outbreak accelerates
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said Friday that three more New Mexicans died amid the state’s coronavirus outbreak, as the number of confirmed cases climbed to 495.
In a press briefing Friday, Lujan Grisham said the state had 92 new cases, a 23% increase in a day’s time.
The three deaths she announced are the most in a single day so far.
— Dan Boyd
Governor to hold 3 p.m. briefing on coronavirus outbreak
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and top New Mexico health officials will hold a news conference this afternoon to update the state’s efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19.
The briefing is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. It will be conducted remotely and streamed live on the governor’s Facebook page and on this post.
— Dan Boyd
City: 18 retirement community residents positive for COVID-19
City of Albuquerque officials on Friday said there are several new cases of COVID-19 at La Vida Llena, a large retirement community in the city’s Northeast Heights.
Mayor Tim Keller said additional information would be released later today but there were “at least 10-plus” at the 425-resident facility.
Officials at the community had this week announced one resident had tested positive after being exposed by a private caregiver who had been hired independently by the resident.
Mark DiMenna, deputy director of the city’s Environmental Health Department, told the Journal that State Department of Health officials notified the city of 18 cases among the facility’s residents and three among its staff but there are test results pending.
— Jessica Dyer
Property tax deadlines unchanged amid coronavirus
While other government entities have extended tax deadlines due to coronavirus, Bernalillo County Treasurer Nancy Bearce is reminding residents that property tax deadlines remain unchanged.
Second-half property tax payments are due May 10.
Residents can pay via email, via the drop box at 5th and Marquette or via mail postmarked by May 10.
“We asked the state to extend the deadline, but the decision was to move forward as scheduled,” Bearce said in a statement. “Bernalillo County residents are not alone as all counties were directed to continue collections as scheduled.”
Property taxes paid to the county flow to several public entities, including the University of New Mexico Hospital, Albuquerque Public Schools and the city of Albuquerque.
Bearce recommends anyone struggling to make the payments “contact their mortgage or financing institution” to see if assistance or payment options are available.
Taxes can be paid online at: www.bernco.gov/treasurer.
The mailing address for payments: Bernalillo County Treasurer, PO Box 27800 Albuquerque, NM 87125-7800.
— Jessica Dyer
Navajo COVID-19 cases increase to 241
The Navajo Nation announced Thursday that positive COVID-19 cases had increased by 27 cases to 241 cases. There is now a total of eight confirmed COVID-19 deaths on the Navajo Nation. Numbers from the Navajo Epidemiology Center Coronavirus Response Hub show a total of 1,796 individuals who have tested negative for COVID-19.
Current COVID-19 cases on the Navajo Nation:
Navajo County, AZ: 104
Apache County, AZ: 22
Coconino County, AZ: 63
McKinley County, NM: 16
San Juan County, NM: 25
Cibola County, NM: 4
San Juan County, UT: 7
President Jonathan Nez has issued a stay-at-home order, and a curfew on the Navajo Nation is in effect from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.
“The Navajo Police will start issuing citations soon for individuals who violate the curfew that’s in place,” President Nez said in a statement. “We’re seeing higher numbers each day because people continue to go out into public. The only way we’re going to beat the virus is to stay home as much as possible.”
— Theresa Davis
NM has limited supplies of protective gear, survey says
As nationwide demand for health protection equipment surges, New Mexico’s health care system has a limited statewide stock of about 44,000 snug-fitting N95 face masks that protect medical workers from the coronavirus by filtering out small airborne particles, state officials said.
New Mexico also has about 2.4 million exam gloves, 70,500 medical gowns and 234,000 surgical masks that offer less protection from virus infection than N95 masks, state officials said in response to an inquiry from The Associated Press about the state’s stockpile of health protection equipment supplies.
The information provided to the AP by the state Health Department was drawn from a survey conducted by officials who received reports from 28 of New Mexico’s 33 counties, said department spokesman David Morgan.
City cracking down on business not complying with governors order
The city is cracking down on dozens of non-essential businesses that have yet to close or are trying to skirt regulations following the governor’s order, according to a release from Mayor Tim Keller’s Office.
Keller said he has directed various departments, including the Albuquerque Police Department and Fire Marshal, to penalize non-essential businesses that remain open despite the order, citing several smoke shops and massage parlors that stayed open under the guise of offering food items.
“We’ve reached a point where some businesses are blatantly trying to skirt the law and knowingly putting public health at risk,” Keller said in the release. “We do not relish the idea of going out and closing someone down, but putting a candy bar on the counter and calling yourself a grocery store doesn’t make you essential.”
According to the release more than 70 non-essential businesses had remained open after the order and APD will work closely with Code Enforcement, Environmental Health, the Fire Marshal, and State Police to “identify and issue citations to businesses in violation of the order.”
— Matt Reisen