Updates related to COVID-19 and its effects on Albuquerque and the rest of NM.
Lovelace tests more thank 1k during weekend
Lovelace Medical Center tested more than 1,000 people for the coronavirus over the weekend.
The hospital announced that it was testing people regardless of whether or not they were showing symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Those symptoms include fever, a dry cough and shortness of breath.
The hospital was offering drive-through screening for the virus in a parking lot across from the hospital on the south side of Martin Luther King Jr. The site saw 730 patients on Saturday and 424 on Sunday, said Whitney Marquez, a spokeswoman for the hospital.
— Ryan Boetel
Native American Relief Fund to help state’s tribal communities
The New Mexico Community Foundation has created the Native American Relief Fund to provide aid to the state’s tribal communities during the COVID-19 crisis.
The fund will provide emergency grants for tribal governments and non-profits to purchase protective equipment, food, water and cleaning supplies for the Navajo, Apache and Pueblo communities of New Mexico. The fund was created in coordination with the Santa Fe Community Foundation and the New Mexico Department of Indian Affairs.
JoAnn Melchor, President and CEO of the New Mexico Community Foundation, told the Journal that the project aims to raise $3 million to pay for emergency supplies and recovery efforts.
“We’re looking at the most efficient way to get these funds to our tribal communities,” Melchor said. “We created an advisory committee to work out the logistics of when to start awarding the grants. We’ll post a grant application soon — it won’t be extensive, just for our record-keeping.”
Melchor said the Thornburg Foundation committed to a $50,000 contribution for the fund, the Water Foundation committed $25,000 and the LANL Foundation committed $5,000. Individual donations since the fund’s announcement total $3,000.
In addition to purchasing emergency supplies amid the crisis, the fund will be used to help tribal communities recover from the pandemic.
“We are focused on hearing community voices, letting them tell us what they need,” Melchor said. “We’re looking at what we can do now with this money to support communities in the future with things like infrastructure.”
The most recent data from the New Mexico Department of Health shows that Native Americans make up 38% of the state’s COVID-19 cases.
Donations can be made at https://nmcf.org/programs/native/ or by calling (505) 356-4110.
— Theresa Davis
NM announces 3 more virus deaths, 126 new cases
Three more adults died in New Mexico’s coronavirus outbreak, state officials said Monday, as testing confirmed about 126 more cases of the disease.
It was the largest single-day jump in new cases so far, though state officials said Monday’s results included some tests that would normally have been reported Sunday, when only partial results were available. Just 47 cases were reported Sunday because some laboratories hadn’t finished tabulating their results.
The state, in any case, now has 1,971 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus.
More than 70 of 126 cases reported Monday were reported in McKinley and San Juan counties in northwestern New Mexico, where the Navajo Nation has been hit hard by the virus.
— Dan McKay
Heinrich, Udall support work authorization extensions for DACA recipients, other immigrants
New Mexico Sens. Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall are asking President Donald Trump to extend work authorizations for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Temporary Protected Status recipients and other immigrants during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a news release sent out by the two Democrats, they made the request in a letter to the president along with 36 other senators.
“This simple measure, which is well within your executive authority, will save American lives and avoid further disruptions to our economy,” the senators wrote. “By contrast, going ahead with your Administration’s efforts to deport more than a million DACA and TPS recipients would be needlessly cruel and greatly weaken our nation’s essential workforce.”
There are 1,900 DACA recipients in New Mexico working in health care, education, and food service jobs according to the Center for American Progress and 382 TPS recipients as of 2019 according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the release said.
— Scott Turner
Torres Small seeks rural COVID-19 task force
New Mexico Congresswoman Xochitl Torres Small is among lawmakers asking the Trump administration to establish a rural COVID-19 task force.
She and other members of Congress sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue urging that a task force be set up to identify challenges in rural areas caused by the pandemic and develop a strategy to confront those challenges. The task force could provide oversight on the distribution of funds, a news release by Torres Small’s office said.
“All of America is hurting right now, but many rural communities are hurting in silence,” Torres Small said in the release. “Since the start of this public health emergency, I’ve fought for funding in rural areas, support for our nation’s farmers, and aid to our struggling rural health care facilities. However, much of this relief still hasn’t reached rural residents or their communities. “
The letter to Perdue said challenges faced by rural areas require Congress and the Department of Agriculture to take action.
“That means – first and foremost – listening to rural leaders and citizens about the challenges they face, allowing them a forum to raise the issues that they have identified as being the most pressing,” the lawmakers wrote. “Second, it means providing administrative flexibilities and resources to address those challenges. And lastly, it means making certain that the resources provided are being distributed in an equitable way to meet rural needs.”
— Scott Turner
Walmart opens COVID-19 testing site in ABQ
A newly opened COVID-19 testing site is making screenings available to first responders and health care workers — whether they have symptoms or not.
The site, which is operating at the Walmart parking lot on Academy and Wyoming, is also making tests available to people ages 18 and up who do have symptoms, according to Jennifer Haddock, Walmart’s market, health and wellness director.
People seeking testing must register and set an appointment 24 hours in advance. Registration can be accessed by scanning a QR code or by visiting https://myquest.questdiagnostics.com/web/mycovid19test. The site will be open seven days per week, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the near future.
— Gabrielle Porter
Town hall focuses on COVID-19 NM hotspots
The coronavirus outbreak has exacerbated long-standing challenges in Indian Country – lack of health care funding and broadband services, among them – as the pandemic has torn into the Navajo Nation and other tribal communities, officials said Sunday in a virtual town hall.
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said the pandemic has highlighted the under-funding of the Indian Health Service and the difficulty tribal communities have securing aid, even after it’s been approved. Funding is often passed through state or other government agencies, he said, rather than sent directly to tribal communities.
“This is a public health emergency,” Nez said. “We need to get those dollars straight to our governments.”
— Dan McKay
Idris Elba and wife recovering from coronavirus in NM
Even though they only had mild symptoms, Idris Elba says he and his wife had their lives “turned around” after contracting the coronavirus, calling the experience “definitely scary and unsettling and nervous.”
“You know, everyone’s sort of feeling the way we have been feeling, but it has definitely been sort of just a complete upheaval,” he told The Associated Press late last week.
But the British actor feels that there are life lessons to be learned, and the pandemic serves as a reminder that “the world doesn’t tick on your time.”
“I think that the world should take a week of quarantine every year just to remember this time. Remember each other. I really do,” he said.
The couple have been recovering in New Mexico, where the actor was filming when he became sick, but plan to return to London as soon as they can get a flight. Elba said he had to miss his 6-year-old son’s birthday because of the lockdown but he’s “hoping to see him as soon as I can.”