Updates related to COVID-19 and its effects on Albuquerque and the rest of NM.
Archdiocese sues Small Business Administration
The Archdiocese of Santa Fe on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Small Business Administration in an effort to tap into emergency funding.
The archdiocese said Thursday that because it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, it is precluded from even applying for federal funds Congress authorized to help entities struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to SBA application forms.
The archdiocese argues that it should qualify for the funding because the intent of the programs is to support regular payroll for employees who are experiencing financial hardship caused by the pandemic.
Church officials note that prior to the coronavirus safety restrictions, its mission was primarily funded by offerings collected during Mass, and without the payroll protection and economic injury disaster money, employee furloughs may be imminent. Churches throughout the archdiocese have remained closed for weeks.
— Rick Nathanson
7 additional deaths, 169 new cases announced in NM
Top state health officials have announced seven additional deaths due to the COVID-19 outbreak, as the disease continues to ravage northwest New Mexico.
The additional deaths bring the state’s death toll to 78. All seven of the deceased were women, and five of the seven lived in counties — McKinley, San Juan and Sandoval — that have had elevated coronavirus infection and fatality rates compared to the rest of the state.
The other two individuals lived in Bernalillo County.
— Dan Boyd
Antibody test coming to New Mexico
Tests to see whether people have antibodies to the coronavirus and are possibly immune will be available in New Mexico in a week or so, health officials said Wednesday.
The viral testing being done in the state determines whether people currently have COVID-19. An antibody, or serological, test shows whether someone has developed antibodies to the virus, which indicates they’ve already been exposed to it.
It is believed that most people exposed to the coronavirus don’t show symptoms, so such a test could give insight into how the virus has spread among those who didn’t know it, said Dr. Richard Larson, executive vice chancellor of the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center.
— Ryan Boetel
Navajo Nation COVID-19 cases reach 1,282
The Navajo Nation is reporting a total of 1,282 COVID-19 cases on the reservation, an increase in 76 cases from Tuesday’s report. The current numbers do not include border town cases that were previously being reported by the Navajo Epidemiology Center, which explains why the case totals have fluctuated in recent days. The agencies reported a total of 5,549 negative tests.
There was one additional COVID-19 death reported Wednesday, bringing the disease’s death toll on the reservation to 49. The Navajo Department of Health reports that 32 men and 17 women have died from the disease, with an average age of 65.
Latest data from the New Mexico Department of Health shows Native Americans make up 43.98% of the state’s COVID-19 cases. Native Americans represent about 11% of New Mexico’s population. New Mexico health officials point to extensive testing in tribal communities as one reason for the high percentages. Native Americans represent 14% of Arizona’s COVID-19 cases, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. In Arizona, Native Americans make up about 5% of the population.
On Wednesday, Swire Coca Cola and the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs delivered 30,000 liters of bottled water to the Navajo Nation. President Jonathan Nez, who is no longer in self-isolation following exposure to a COVID-19-positive individual, oversaw arrival of the water shipments in the Navajo capital of Window Rock, Arizona. A news release said the bottled water will be distributed to health care workers, first responders and citizens in need.
Last week, Durango Coca Cola delivered 13,000 liters of bottled water to the Navajo community of Sheep Springs, New Mexico.
The main Navajo Health Command Operations Center number is (928) 871-7014.
— Theresa Davis