Updates related to COVID-19 and its effects on Albuquerque and the rest of NM.
Navajo Nation COVID-19 cases increase by 104
There are a total of 1,873 COVID-19 cases on the Navajo Nation, an increase in 104 from Monday’s reports.
One additional COVID-19 death was reported Tuesday by the Navajo Department of Health, Navajo Area Indian Health Service and the Navajo Epidemiology Center, bringing the total number of deaths on the reservation to 60.
The Navajo Health Command Operations Center reports a total of 7,816 negative test results.
Reservation cases in McKinley County, New Mexico, now top all other counties on the Navajo Nation. There are 469 confirmed COVID-19 cases on the reservation in McKinley County.
Native Americans, which represent 11% of New Mexico’s population, make up 50% of the state’s COVID-19 cases, according to data from the New Mexico Department of Health. In Arizona, Native Americans represent 13% of the state’s COVID-19 cases and 5% of the population, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.
The Navajo Nation will implement another 57-hour curfew this weekend, according to a news release.
— Theresa Davis
NM announces 6 more virus deaths, 153 new cases
Six more adults died in New Mexico’s coronavirus outbreak, state health officials said Tuesday, pushing the statewide total to 110.
Four of the six fatalities were individuals from McKinley or San Juan counties in the northwestern part of the state, where the virus has been especially difficult to contain.
Health officials said Tuesday that testing had also confirmed 153 additional virus cases statewide, bringing the total to 2,974.
— Dan McKay
State health care providers to receive $56 million COVID-19 funding
Eighty four New Mexico health care providers received over $56 million to aid in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the state’s congressional delegation announced Tuesday.
The funding comes from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which pushes the total health care funding in the state from coronavirus legislation to more than $226 million, the lawmakers said in a news relief.
More funding is expected to be on the way through the CARES Act and an interim coronavirus aid package passed last week. According to the release, the funding was allocated based on hospitals’ and providers’ 2018 net patient revenue. No repayment is required. The funding is allocated as direct grants, the lawmakers said.
— Scott Turner
APS among school districts urging for more federal funding
Albuquerque Public Schools Superintendent Raquel Reedy is calling for more federal dollars to go toward schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reedy signed a letter drawn up by the Council of the Great City Schools that asks for $175 billion for education in the next coronavirus appropriations bill. The letter, addressed to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and others, also urges Congress to earmark billions of dollars for special education and low-income families.
— Shelby Perea
Records suggest 2 more MDC inmates positive for COVID-19
Two more inmates at the Metropolitan Detention Center appear to have tested positive for COVID-19, according to documents obtained by the Journal.
MDC documents turned over to defense attorney Christopher Dodd in response to a public records request show that a male and female inmate have tested positive for COVID. The documents don’t say when the jail learned of the positive tests.
MDC announced in late March that an inmate tested positive for COVID-19. Larry Gallegos, a Bernalillo County spokesman, said he wasn’t aware of the additional positive tests but said he would look into it.
Three tests are still pending, according to the documents.
— Edmundo Carrillo
Kirtland jet fuel spill meeting canceled
A public meeting about the jet fuel spill cleanup at Kirtland Air Force Base has been canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The meeting had been scheduled for Thursday, but the base would not have been able to comply with requirements set by New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s public health order, according to a news release sent out by the base.
The Air Force is still planning to hold a July 23 open house at the Bulk Fuels Facility used in the cleanup, the release said.
“It’s unfortunate that we are forced to cancel this opportunity to inform local residents of our progress,” said Kate Lynnes, Senior Advisor for the BFF Project. “But public safety is the first priority. We are still hard at work on our cleanup efforts. Quarterly groundwater and soil vapor monitoring is on schedule and the groundwater treatment system is operating at full capacity.”
According to the release, the Air Force reached an agreement with the New Mexico Veterans Memorial to host the public information repository at the Veterans Memorial facility. The service will be open to the public once restrictions are lifted.
— Scott Turner
Portraits of Lives Lost
They were world travelers and blue-collar workers.
Mentors and trailblazers. A high school basketball coach and a classroom grandmother.
Almost seven weeks after the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the state, the virus has felled more than 100 New Mexicans.
They were grandparents, wives and mothers. Husbands and fathers. Sons and daughters.
— Elise Kaplan, Matt Reisen, Martin Salazar
Navajo Nation COVID-19 hotspots shifting east
The Navajo Nation reported 53 new COVID-19 cases on the reservation Monday, bringing the total to 1,769 cases. There remains a total of 59 deaths from the disease, according to the Navajo Department of Health, Navajo Epidemiology Center and the Navajo Area Indian Health Service.
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez hosted a video update Monday from a community center in Chinle, Arizona, where tribal leadership is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build an alternative care site.
The 50-bed facility will house a potential overflow of COVID-19 patients as they recover, in an effort to prevent community spread of the disease. A similar facility was completed at a high school gym in Gallup, New Mexico. Nez said a middle school in Shiprock will be a third alternative care site.
“We are building these facilities just to be on the safe side, and we’re hoping and praying we don’t need (them),” Nez said. “We have to prepare for the worst.”
Nez expressed concern about the shift of COVID-19 “hotspots” from the western Navajo Nation to eastern and northern portions of the reservation, including in towns that border tribal land.
“When we tell our citizens to stay home, we ask that you stay home please,” Nez said. “I don’t know why the increase in Gallup and Farmington, but you know a lot of us go over there to shop .. home is the safest place to be.”
A majority of New Mexico’s new COVID-19 cases in the last several days have been in McKinley and San Juan counties, which overlap with the Navajo Nation. McKinley County has the most COVID-19 cases of any county in the state.
Native Americans represent 49.8% of the state’s COVID-19 cases, New Mexico Department of Health data shows.
— Theresa Davis