Updates related to COVID-19 and its effects on Albuquerque and the rest of NM.
Downtown Growers’ Market postponed, but pick-up option available
Coronavirus concerns may have squashed normal operation of the Downtown Growers’ Market — it’s on hold at Robinson Park until further notice — but consumers can still get food from the farmers and other food producers who take part.
Representatives on Friday said the market has launched a pre-order pick-up system.
“We are listing participating vendors on our website for customers to contact and place orders with directly,” says a market news release. “The market is then organizing a drop and pick-up time and location, currently Saturdays 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at Fusion Theatre, Downtown (708 First NW). We ask that customers sign up for a pick-up time slot once they place orders to help keep things organized.”
The market says it’s still accepting EBT/SNAP. Those customers will pay at the pick-up.
For more information on the changes, go to www.downtowngrowers.org.
Navajo COVID-19 cases reach 1,127
The Navajo Nation Health Command Center announced 85 new COVID-19 cases Friday, which brings the total COVID-19 cases on the Navajo Nation to 1,127. The Navajo Department of Health, Navajo Area Indian Health Service and Navajo Epidemiology Center also confirmed three additional COVID-19 deaths, and 3,673 total negative tests. There are now 44 COVID-19 deaths on the Navajo Nation.
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, in a video roundtable discussion Friday with U.S. Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) and tribal leaders, expressed frustration with the “slow pace” of federal dollars getting to Indian Country to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is upsetting to see how the voice of tribal governments has been ignored through this process,” Nez said.
Nez also said that 57% of all COVID-19 cases in the Indian Health Service network are on the Navajo Nation, but that has not been factored into the percentage of emergency funds allocated to tribal communities.
On Friday, the New Mexico Community Foundation announced the Native American Relief Fund, which will collect donations to purchase protective equipment, food and water for Navajo, Apache and Pueblo communities of New Mexico. The fund was created in coordination with the Navajo and Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund and the Santa Fe Community Foundation.
The Navajo Nation will be under a weekend curfew from 8 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday. Restaurants and food vendors are closed. Grocery stores and gas stations may operate, but with limited hours and occupancy. According to a release, the Navajo Police Department issued more than 100 citations last weekend for residents who violated the curfew.
Here’s how to help.
— Theresa Davis
NM announces 7 new virus deaths, 115 more cases
SANTA FE — Seven more adults — four in Bernalillo County — died amid New Mexico’s coronavirus outbreak, pushing the total to 51 deaths so far, state health officials Friday.
Two of the Bernalillo County deaths were older adults who had been residents of La Vida Llena, a retirement community in Albuquerque.
Attorney General Hector Balderas has accused La Vida Llena of failing to follow public health orders, an allegation the company disputes.
Altogether Friday, state health officials said testing had confirmed 115 new cases of COVID-19 throughout New Mexico, pushing the statewide total to 1,711.
More than half of the new cases announced Friday are in McKinley and San Juan counties, where an outbreak has hit the Navajo Nation.
State officials say COVID-19 has been a factor in 51 deaths throughout the state so far. Among the seven deaths announced Friday, the victims’ ages ranged from their 40s to their 90s.
All but two had underlying medical conditions.
Ninety-six people are hospitalized with coronavirus symptoms in New Mexico, and 382 people are classified as having recovered.
— Dan McKay
Supreme Court extends suspension of jury trials through May
The state Supreme Court has extended its suspension of jury trials in civil and criminals cases due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The suspension, initially until April 30, will now last until May 29, according to a press release.
“The Court believes it is prudent to continue the suspension of jury trials to help protect public health and control the spread of COVID-19,” Chief Justice Judith K. Nakamura said in the release.
The release states that other precautionary measures will be extended as well, including limiting the number of people visiting court houses, providing public health safeguards for those required at the court hours and requiring judges to conduct audio and video telconferencing for non-jury civil and criminal cases.
— Matt Reisen
Hot spots, internet available for families who need it
Families who need internet for at-home schooling have new resources to make that happen.
Albuquerque Public Schools is encouraging families to take advantage of Comcast’s “Internet Essentials” that connects low-income families to internet access. According to Comcast’s website, new Internet Essentials customers can get two free months if they apply by May 13. In a news release, the school district said that APS is using operational funds to pay for six months of Comcast Internet Essentials services for families that can’t afford it.
APS is also making hot spots available for families in rural or remote locations that aren’t in Comcast’s network.
U.S. District Courthouse in Albuquerque closed
The U.S. District Courthouse in Downtown Albuquerque was closed Thursday and Friday for cleaning after it was discovered that a court patron recently tested positive for COVID-19.
There is no indication that the court staff came in contact with the person but several who were in the same area have been asked to self-quarantine for 14 days as a precautionary measure.
The courthouse is being cleaned and disinfected following CDC guidance and General Services Administration protocols.
The courthouse has been operating with minimal staff on site since March 16, 2020, when staff were authorized to telework from home. The courthouse was closed to the public on April 1, 2020.
— Mike Gallagher
Amid uncertainty, NM health officials turn to statistics
The numbers are baffling.
Thousands of people could die, one statistical model suggests, as the coronavirus tears through New Mexico in the next year. Another model, by contrast, estimates 155 deaths by this summer.
Each projection, meanwhile, produces new figures almost daily.
But even amid the uncertainty, scientists and state health officials say, the modeling is valuable. Like a hurricane forecast, it can help guide policymakers who have to decide now, not later, how to prepare.
— Dan McKay
Navajo Nation creates official donation fund; restaurants to close over weekend
The Navajo Nation Health Command Operations Center has created the Navajo Nation COVID-19 Fund to accept donations during the current public health crisis. In a video update Thursday, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said the official fund would be used to purchase medical supplies and personal protective equipment for Navajo healthcare workers, law enforcement and communities.
The Navajo Department of Health, Navajo Area Indian Health Service and Navajo Epidemiology Center reported 121 new COVID-19 cases Thursday, for a total of 1,042 COVID-19 cases on the Navajo Nation. The agencies reported three additional deaths from the disease, bringing the COVID-19 death toll on the Navajo Nation to 41.
In Thursday’s video update, Dr. Jill Jim, executive director of the Navajo Department of Health, announced that restaurants and food vendors would be closed during the upcoming 57-hour weekend curfew in an effort to curb community spread of the disease. Gas stations and grocery stores may operate during the weekend curfew, but must limit their hours and occupancy.
The weekend curfew begins on Friday, April 17, at 8:00 p.m. and ends on Monday, April 20 at 5 a.m. The Navajo Nation will also have a weekend curfew from April 24 to April 27.
Navajo residents do not have to remain inside during the curfew, but should limit movement to their home area. Essential employees are exempt from the curfew, but must have identification from their employer. Navajo police have set up checkpoints throughout the reservation. As of Wednesday evening, the Navajo Police Department had confirmed nine employees tested positive for COVID-19, and are in self-isolation.
During the townhall update, David Nez, Incident Commander for the Navajo Health Command Operations Center, said that chapter houses are still providing essential services like water and food deliveries and trash pickup. On Wednesday, the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department delivered 80,000 pounds of food to be distributed to elders and vulnerable residents on the reservation in Sheep Springs, Standing Rock and Thoreau.
Here’s how to help.
— Theresa Davis