Editor’s note: This post includes updates related to COVID-19 and its effects on Albuquerque and the rest of the state.
COVID-19 cases reach 321 on Navajo Nation, 13 deaths
On Saturday the Navajo Nation Health Command Operations Center reported 321 total COVID-19 cases, up 51 from Friday.
There was another COVID-19 death on the Navajo Nation reported Saturday, bringing the total deaths to 13.
“This is a matter of life and death, especially for those who have underlying health issues,” said Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez. “Before you consider going out for any reason, think of the well-being of your elders and your children. Be mindful that the numbers we are seeing are two to three days old due to the delay in test results for COVID-19. We are demanding that rapid testing be offered immediately and that testing laboratories be established in our communities.”
The Navajo Nation continues to have a stay-at-home order and a curfew from 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. President Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer will hold an online town hall update on Sunday, April 5, at 2:00 p.m. (MDT) via Facebook.
The Navajo command center hotline is 928 871 7014. A mental health helpline can be reached at 928 810 7357.
Locations of Navajo COVID-19 cases are listed below:
– Coconino County (AZ): 90
– Navajo County (AZ): 137
– Cibola County (NM): 7
– McKinley County (NM): 17
– San Juan County (NM): 30
– Socorro County (NM) : 2
– San Juan County (UT): 7
— Theresa Davis
NM small businesses urged to apply quickly for stimulus loans
Local businesses hit hard by COVID-19 shutdowns are being encouraged to apply sooner than later for loans under the federal stimulus bill, the Governor’s Office says.
The stimulus bill, or CARES Act, allocates $349 billion for loans to small businesses, according to a Saturday news release. However, businesses have until only June 30 to access the money, with loans being made on a “first-come, first-serve basis.”
“This money will go quickly, and New Mexico small businesses must act as soon as possible to obtain loans,” Economic Development Secretary Alicia Keyes said in the release. “Many businesses struggling through this crisis need a financial bridge to help them survive and recover once this crisis eases.”
The release states there are two loan programs for small businesses under the stimulus bill: the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, where a small business can borrow up to $2 million with an immediate grant advance up to $10,000 distributed in three days, and the Paycheck Protection Program, where a small business can borrow up to $10 million with an interest rate of 1%.
According to the release the Paycheck Protection Program loan is deferrable for six months and can be forgiven by the U.S. Small Business Administration if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest or utilities.
Small businesses can apply for the loans through the SBA at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/ or through the SBA’s Small Business Development Centers at www.nmsbdc.org.
The release states that, in addition to the loans made available under the stimulus bill, the state Economic Development Department also has created loan-guarantee and no-interest loan programs for businesses. For more information, go to https://gonm.biz/
— Matthew Reisen
City Council proposes COVID-19 recovery fund
City Councilor Pat Davis is sponsoring legislation that would make $1 million available to community groups that are helping residents during the coronavirus outbreak..
General fund money appropriated for the Coronavirus Community Support and Recovery Fund would be “designated for grants and contractual services agreements to nonprofit and governmental organizations to provide food, shelter and health services for low-income and at-risk residents whose economic situation has been negatively impacted by the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the resolution.
“As a city, we’ve spent the past few weeks in triage mode adjusting city resources and services to meet the daily challenges of providing for the people and businesses in this extraordinary time of crisis,” Davis said in a City Council news release. “…But we know that this crisis will not be short-lived, so we also have to plan for the longer-term community care and recovery that will be needed. This legislation is a down payment on that commitment.”
According to the release, the measure would require the city to develop an online application process within a week, establish an application review committee made up of city councilors and the mayor’s staff and requires final approval by the City Council.
The release states that those who apply are encouraged to partner with local businesses, including restaurants, to provide services.
The legislation is scheduled to be introduced Monday.
— Matthew Reisen
5 more residents, 8 additional staff test positive for virus at retirement facility
Five more residents and eight staff members at a Northeast Albuquerque nursing home have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the governor’s office.
The news comes one day after officials announced 22 positive cases and the deaths of two men at the La Vida Llena nursing home, near Montgomery and Morris. The facility, which houses 425 people, now has seen a total of 35 cases in the past week.
Nora Meyers-Sackett, a governor’s spokeswoman, announced a total of 51 positive cases, bringing the statewide total to 543, and an additional death in an update on Saturday.
— Matthew Reisen
This year’s Santa Fe Indian Market canceled, will return in 2021
The Santa Fe Indian Market won’t take place this year, the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts announced Saturday.
“This decision was made by the SWAIA Board of Directors this week. Board Member and artist Dominique Toya expressed the Board’s rationale best when she said, ‘This is a difficult decision because Indian Market is a big part of my livelihood, but it is more important to protect the well-being of fellow artists, their families, our customers, and all of our communities. We pray for your health and safety and look forward to seeing you when Indian Market goes live again in 2021,’ ” reads the statement by SWAIA Board Chairman Thomas A. Teegarden.
The organization added that its Centennial Celebration will be moved to 2022.
The 99th Indian Market events had been slated to take place Aug. 11-16.
— Journal Staff
City planning to roll out free wireless internet program
The City of Albuquerque is preparing to begin a free drive-up wireless internet program within the next week, according to Mayor Tim Keller.
“This is going to be a way for us help, especially parents and kids who don’t have access to the internet but even people working out of their car,” Keller said Saturday during a news conference.
He said the city is working to find a way to use city resources to provide the internet.
The city is also working with Albuquerque Public Schools to help students download homework assignments which can then be completed at home without needing to access the internet, Keller said.
To achieve this, the city is looking at boosting the wireless internet at community centers so it will able to be accessed from cars in the parking lots of the centers, Keller’s spokeswoman Jessie Damazyn said.
Damazyn said the internet will also be available inside the Sun Vans and other facilities.
— Pilar Martinez
Picture: Rehearsing for a virtual release party
Santa Fe musician Todd Lovato, 40, and his son Calvin, 5, rehearsed in self-isolation Thursday in preparation for a virtual Zoom performance and music video release party on Saturday.
Musicians like Lovato have been exploring new ways to share their art and stay connected to fans amidst statewide stay-at-home orders due to COVID-19.
More information about the concert, which also features a performance from Albuquerque musician Cali Shaw, is available at Lovato’s website www.todd.world.
— Eddie Moore
NM unemployment mounts amid benefit challenges
Unemployment claims continue to pile up in New Mexico, as new state numbers show that 28,344 residents filed initial unemployment claims this week.
The new unemployment claims filed between March 27 and April 2 represent an 11% decline from last week’s record-shattering total, but remain well ahead of the total from any other week in living memory.
Moreover, the total doesn’t include thousands of New Mexico residents who were unable to place a claim by phone due to extreme call volume overloading the Department of Workforce Solutions’ system.
— Stephen Hamway
NM governments to receive $133 million in emergency transit funding
State and local governments in New Mexico will receive over $133 million in emergency transit grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the state’s congressional delegation announced Friday.
The funds are part of a first wave of grants from the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, they said in a release.
“This funding will help relieve financially-strapped state and local governments of choosing between providing basic services and responding to this public health emergency,” U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M. said. “Although all New Mexicans should follow federal, state and local public health guidelines to stay home and physically distance to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, public transportation remains essential. Workers who can’t telework—in addition to the heroic frontline healthcare workers saving lives every day—need access to public transportation to go to work and get the resources they need.
The full breakdown is below:
Section 5307 Urbanized Area Apportionments:
Las Cruces, $6,026,321
Las Cruces-El Paso, $1,543,501
Los Lunas, $2,250,299
Santa Fe, $5,315,047
Section 5311 & Section 5340 Rural Area Apportionments:
New Mexico, $36,474,320
— Scott Turner
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 4 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 2:00 p.m. (MDT) via Facebook. The number for the main Navajo Health Command Operations Center is (928) 871-7014.
— Theresa Davis