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Santa Fe reassesses ‘promise’

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – The number of positive COVID-19 tests in Santa Fe County has remained relatively consistent, even as other parts of the state are seeing their numbers decline.

On Sunday, Santa Fe County reported 19 cases – more than any other county in New Mexico. And now, city of Santa Fe officials are changing course.

The city originally started the “Santa Fe Promise” campaign, in which businesses and residents promised to adhere to all social-distancing guidelines. Posters and flyers featuring the promise were distributed throughout the city.

But numbers have remained steady in Santa Fe County, forcing officials to develop a more hands-on approach.

Mayor Alan Webber and Economic Development Director Rich Brown on Monday unveiled a plan to lower cases in the area, especially in some of the city’s most underserved areas, particularly in the 87505 and 87507 ZIP codes.

The 87507 ZIP code, primarily consisting of Santa Fe’s Southside, has seen its numbers increase substantially over the past few weeks. As of Monday, when just three new cases were reported in the county, the area had 54% of the county’s 780 total cases, despite only having 32% of its population.

Brown said a lack of transportation, limited broadband and overcrowded living spaces are some of the factors behind the steady flow of COVID-19 cases on the Southside, the part of town with the highest immigrant and Hispanic population and the most poverty. Many families live in multi-generational homes, meaning one person with the virus can easily spread it to a large number of family members.

“They don’t have a place to quarantine,” Brown said. “They’re all together.”

He said the city is discussing possibly quarantining families in hotels or the Midtown Campus, to prevent further spread of the virus in the area.

The city will also begin discussions with organizations that work with some of Santa Fe’s Spanish-speaking and lower-income populations, Brown said. He said a plan to address specific inequities will be developed within three weeks. Asked why a plan for the Southside hadn’t been started sooner, Brown said,”I think we started to get more data, more clean data, that showed where the spikes are.”

However, the state first issued ZIP code-specific data in April, after which 87507 began increasing its caseload far past nearby communities.

Webber said the daily numbers of cases have fluctuated over the past few months.

“This is an ongoing effort and we need to refocus ourselves,” he said.

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