Updates related to COVID-19 and its effects on Albuquerque and the rest of NM.
City accepts $150 million in coronavirus relief funds
The Albuquerque City Council on Monday formally accepted $150.4 million in federal coronavirus-related relief money.
It comes via the $2.2 trillion CARES Act and is meant to cover the municipality’s expenditures brought on by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The city has so far documented $3.1 million in expenses directly related to its COVID-19 response, a finance official told the council.
“We are awaiting further clarification and guidance from the (U.S.) Treasury on exactly how we can use (the $150 million),” Albuquerque Chief Administrative Officer Sarita Nair said during Monday‘s meeting.
City officials remain hopeful that the money can be used to make up for tax revenue lost during the current economic shutdown, and Mayor Tim Keller has said such flexibility can help the city avoid worker furloughs.
Guidance published on the U.S. Treasury Department’s website said revenue replacement is not allowed, though a city spokeswoman said last week the city is lobbying for future federal legislation to change that.
— Jessica Dyer
5 more deaths announced; COVID cases still spiking in northwest NM
New Mexico health officials have announced five additional deaths due to COVID-19, as the disease continues to ravage the state’s northwest corner.
In all, 136 of the 186 additional confirmed coronavirus cases announced Monday are from two northwest New Mexico counties — McKinley and San Juan — that have seen skyrocketing infection rates in recent weeks.
Three of the five individuals whose deaths were reported Monday were from one of those two counties. The other two deaths involved a male in his 60s from Sandoval County and a female in her 70s from Bernalillo County.
— Dan Boyd
PED partnership offering one-on-one help for students
A new program is targeting students who aren’t engaging with learning after schools shut down due to COVID-19.
To help kids get back into schoolwork, the state Public Education Department and high school graduation-focused organization Graduation Alliance teamed up to pair learning coaches with students who were identified by local school districts as in need of extra support.
The program is called Engage New Mexico and is for middle and high school students.
The coaches will check in on the children and help craft a plan to get them back on track.
According to a news release, over 7,100 students have been identified for a learning coach.
“Providing a dedicated outreach team to work in support of our educators will ensure that our teachers can focus on teaching, while the ENGAGE team works to re-establish contact with students described as ‘missing’ from their continuous learning classrooms,” Gwen Perea Warniment, PED deputy secretary, said in a statement.
– Shelby Perea
‘Left behind’: NM tribes await federal relief money
When COVID-19 came to Indian Country, it spread quickly. The Navajo Nation now has the third-highest rate of cases in the United States, behind New York and New Jersey, and health care professionals anticipate the peak is yet to come. In New Mexico, more than 50% of people infected are Native American.
But the Navajo Nation, along with 573 other federally recognized tribal governments – 22 of which are in New Mexico – still hasn’t received substantial support from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which Congress passed in late March. The act allocated $8 billion directly to the tribes to be split among them.
The original deadline for getting funds out the door was eight days ago .
“For Indian Country, the struggle to get their fair share of federal resources has always been a problem. That’s a big reason why tribes are so at risk right now, because they have consistently been left behind,” Sen. Tom Udall told the Journal in a phone interview last week. “The CARES Act was a good start … but again we’re seeing Native communities face roadblocks and hurdles.”
— Elise Kaplan, Theresa Davis
NM sees 12 more COVID-19 deaths Sunday, bringing total to 151
Health officials announced Sunday that twelve more people have died of COVID-19 in New Mexico, the highest death count the state has seen in a single day.
The number of deaths in New Mexico is now 151. The Department of Health also announced 118 new positive cases.
Six of the deaths announced Sunday afternoon were in San Juan County, five of them were residents of the Life Care Center of Farmington, a nursing home.
The state reported partial numbers Sunday afternoon due to a technical issue with some labs reporting to the DOH.
As of Sunday, 164 people were hospitalized with the disease and 832 who have been designated as having recovered, according to the DOH.
— Edmundo Carrillo