Updates related to COVID-19 and its effects on Albuquerque and the rest of NM.
On Sunday, the Navajo Nation reported 79 new cases of COVID-19 on the reservation. The total of cases is now 1,716, according to data from the Navajo Department of Health, Navajo Epidemiology Center and the Navajo Area Indian Health Service.
There remains a total of 59 deaths from the disease, and 8,037 total negative tests.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham joined Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer for a video update on Sunday night.
Lujan Grisham said the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the need for cooperation of tribal, state and federal governments to meet their responsibilities to ensure citizens have food, water and necessary supplies during the current public health crisis and in the future. Native Americans represent about 47% of New Mexico’s COVID-19 cases.
“The federal government is waiting too long to get much-needed resources directly to the Navajo Nation,” Lujan Grisham said, adding that she would join Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey in continuing to advocate for federal relief for the Navajo Nation.
· Coconino County, AZ: 243
· McKinley County, NM: 427
· San Juan County, NM: 177
· Cibola County, NM: 16
· Socorro County, NM: 21
· Sandoval County, NM: 15
· San Juan County, UT: 21
— Theresa Davis
‘This is not right … We were all worried’
In a notice posted March 30 on the website for La Vida Llena, a large Albuquerque retirement community, executive director Linda Givens detailed some changes wrought by COVID-19.
The retirement community would be postponing all group activities, she wrote. It had also closed La Vida Llena’s on-site fitness centers and hair salon. The facility had delayed closing its on-campus amenities past the dates the governor ordered similar facilities closed statewide.
At the time, its dining rooms remained open.
“Management recognizes that these are drastic measures, but we think if we limit the time of closeness to mealtime, we can be OK for now,” Givens wrote in a post that has since been removed from the website.
“Be assured we will adjust in whatever area if it is required. We appreciate your cooperation and taking social responsibility so that we can all be safe.
“We do not want the virus in our community.”
A day later, Givens announced the first known coronavirus case among La Vida Llena residents.
And a day after that it closed its dining rooms.
By the end of the week, on-site testing exposed an outbreak.
To date, 33 staff people have tested positive and 31 residents have had positive tests – 28 from the health care unit, including at least 16 who have died, and three in the independent living area. Nobody has tested positive in the other units, according to La Vida Llena’s numbers.
The health care unit, which had 43 residents as of April 1, currently has 24.
Deaths linked to La Vida Llena account for about one in six of all statewide deaths in coronavirus patients.
— Jessica Dyer
Grants mayor prepares to defy shutdown
GRANTS – The door at Papa’s Pawn is locked. A sign on the door asks patrons to knock.
Diane Rowe is only allowing two customers at a time into her business on North First Street.
“I’m not even allowing people in to browse. We’re not allowing children in,” she said. “It’s not that we don’t want to see their smiling faces. We want them to stay safe. … We’re very mindful of who we let come in here.”
Her business – filled with goods like cameras, guns, a Dallas Cowboys jersey, musical instruments and even bowling pins – is lined with tape to remind customers to keep their physical distance to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Rowe said she’s taking the same precautions big businesses like Walmart, Walgreens and Smith’s Food and Drug in town are required to under Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s stay-at-home orders that allow businesses deemed essential to remain open.
Her business, however, has not been deemed “essential.”
Rowe has already received a cease-and-desist order from New Mexico State Police. A second visit could result in a misdemeanor charge, a $100 fine and possible jail time, she said. And a third visit could result in as much as a $5,000 fine per day if she keeps the business open.
But come Monday, more businesses in the Cibola County town of around 9,000, about an hour west of Albuquerque, could be joining the pawn shop in defying the governor’s orders. That’s when Grants Mayor Martin Hicks said he will be allowing businesses to reopen, including the municipal golf course.
Grants has become a focal point in a revolt brewing around the state. Some city and county governments around New Mexico have passed emergency declarations asking the governor to lift closings of nonessential businesses, saying her orders have crippled their economies. Nineteen mayors signed a letter urging her to allow businesses to reopen, and demonstrators in Santa Fe, Albuquerque and Roswell this past week have demanded the same.
Navajo Nation COVID-19 cases reach 1,637
The Navajo Nation reported 97 new COVID-19 cases Saturday, and one additional death. There are now 1,637 COVID-19 cases on the reservation and a total of 59 deaths.
The Navajo Department of Health, Navajo Area Indian Health Service and Navajo Epidemiology Center have reported a total of 7,393 negative tests.
The reservation will remain under a weekend-long curfew until Monday morning. The Navajo Nation’s stay-at-home order will remain in effect after the weekend curfew expires.
Navajo Nation COVID-19 cases by county:
■ Navajo County, Ariz.: 395
■ Apache County, Ariz.: 362
■ Coconino County, Ariz.: 242
■ McKinley County, N.M.: 398
■ San Juan County, N.M.: 168
■ Cibola County, N.M.: 16
■ Socorro County, N.M.: 21
■ Sandoval County, N.M.: 15
■ San Juan County, Utah: 20
The Navajo Health Command Operations Center hotline is (928) 871-7014.
— Theresa Davis