FRI: Bill Richardson Organizing Aid For Navajo Nation Slammed By Coronavirus, + More
Bill Richardson Seeks Humanitarian Aid For Navajo Nation - By Morgan Lee, Associated Press
A philanthropic effort aimed at boosting access to scarce medical and protective equipment supplies on the Navajo Nation is being organized by former Gov. Bill Richardson.
The coronavirus has swept with ferocity through the largest Native American reservation in the U.S., which spans parts of New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. Infections have surpassed 550 with 22 deaths.
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer went into self-quarantine Thursday after being in close proximity earlier this week with a first responder who later tested positive for the coronavirus.
Richardson told The Associated Press Thursday that his enduring sense of gratitude and friendship with the Navajo people prompted his effort to provide seed money and launch the humanitarian effort in cooperation with Molina Healthcare and New Mexico Children's Foundation.
The Department of Health announced Friday the number of COVID-19 cases in New Mexico rose by more than 100 in a day to 1,091, with two more deaths bringing the total number to 19.
Drums, Dancers Livestream As Virus Moves Powwows Online - By Felicia Fonseca, Associated Press
The largest powwows in the country have been canceled and postponed amid the spread of the coronavirus. Tribal members have found a new outlet online with the Social Distance Powwow.
They're sharing videos of colorful displays of culture and tradition that are at their essence meant to uplift people during difficult times. The posts have become a nearly daily dose of medicine, songs, dances, well wishes, humor and happy birthdays.
The site also hosts a live powwow on the weekend where an emcee patches in drum groups, singers and dancers from across the country.
New Mexico High Court Rules Against Nursing Home Arbitration – Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press
The New Mexico Supreme Court has ruled against a nursing home agreement requiring residents to settle their most likely claims, setting a precedent for consumers to dispute arbitration agreements.
The Albuquerque Journal reported that the ruling stems from a case against multiple defendants, including the Rehabilitation Center of Albuquerque for requiring all legal claims to go to mediation and then move on to arbitration rather than to court.
The agreement still allowed the facility to file lawsuits over its most likely claims against patients. The Supreme Court affirmed Monday that there was not enough evidence to show that the one-sidedness of the agreement was justified.
Horse Trainer Faces Stiff Fines, Suspension In New Mexico - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press
A quarter horse trainer whose combined earnings over a decades-long career total nearly $13 million has been hit with a hefty fine and a 34-year suspension for several doping violations.
Documents from the New Mexico Racing Commission show the violations involved horses that tested positive last year while at a southern New Mexico track.
The animals belonged to a Texas owner. It wasn't clear whether trainer Bobby Martinez will appeal. The commission is proposing fines totaling $480,000 and Martinez would not be able to apply for a state license until 2054.
Any horses owned or trained by Martinez also would be ineligible to race in New Mexico.
Governor Says Planning To Begin But Still Unknown When Local Businesses Will Reopen – Albuquerque Journal, KUNM News
New Mexico will soon begin to plan for what it will look like to reopen businesses ordered closed amid the coronavirus pandemic. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham says that the timeline for implementing such a plan, however, remains unknown.
The Albuquerque Journal reports the governor at a briefing on Facebook Live Thursday said it was “too soon” to begin discussions about when the many non-essential businesses shuttered by public health orders would be able to reopen. However, she said her administration will begin the planning process for the economic recovery in the coming week. The plan will likely include a staggered rollout with those businesses that pose the least risk permitted to open sooner than others.
The Department of Health announced Friday the number of COVID-19 cases rose by more than 100 in a day to 1,091, with two more deaths bringing the total number to 19. Officials also identifed positive COVID-19 cases among residents or staff in nine congregant living facilities: Advanced Health Care of Albuquerque in Albuquerque, Aztec Health Care in Aztec, Beehive Homes in Farmington, Central Desert Behavioral Health in Albuquerque, Good Samaritan Manzano del Sol in Albuquerque, La Vida Llena in Albuquerque, Legacy Santa Fe in Santa Fe, Lifecare Farmington in Farmington, Uptown Genesis in Albuquerque.
Lujan Grisham warned that the timing of re-opening businesses is delicate because doing so will expose New Mexicans anew to the coronavirus, which she said is “waiting for us.”
The governor said reopening the local economy too early could result in a resurgence of virus transmission. At the same time, she said opening later than necessary could be a “death sentence” for the economically-strapped local businesses that have been ordered closed.
Governor Warns More People Need To Stay Home As COVID Cases Rise - KUNM News
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham began a press conference Thursday wearing a mask and warned that people and businesses could face citations and penalties if they violate public health orders to stay at home.
The governor said the number of positive COVID-19 cases rose to 989, with 73 people who are hospitalized and 22 on ventilators. An additional death brought the total number to 17.
Lujan Grisham ordered more businesses closed this week deemed non-essential, including in-person car dealerships, liquor stores and payday lenders. She said the New Mexico State Police have issued 15 cease and desist orders so far to businesses that violated those orders.
The governor also warned that individuals who violate orders to limit gatherings to five people and limit travel could face misdemeanors.
Lujan Grisham held up a photo of her mother to drive home the point that people who violate orders to stay at home except for essential trips are endangering the lives of others.
Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase said the state could still be 1,232 intensive care unit beds short in a coming surge of patients, but that number has gone down since last week and he credited social distancing.
The state is also improving the time it takes the number of cases to double. That is now up to 4.12 days.
New Mexico Health Department Expands COVID-19 Testing To Some Asymptomatic Residents - Associated Press
New Mexico has forged ahead with expanded testing procedures.
Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel said Thursday the expansion includes a search for asymptomatic patients that can still transmit the disease, with a focus on nursing homes, drug treatment centers and Native American pueblo communities.
The infection rate in three northwestern counties is nearly three times the statewide average. Seven counties in the east and northeast of the state have yet to detect an infection.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
New Mexico Plans Self-Isolation Spots For Those With Virus - Associated Press
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says New Mexico is deploying self-isolation locations with food, lodging and mental health counseling for members of its health care workforce who have tested positive for the coronavirus as well as Native American communities hit hard by the virus.
Five of the self-isolation centers were opened this week and eight more are due next week in efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus and care for critical populations.
Human Services Secretary David Scrase said plans also are underway to dedicate a nursing home to elderly patients with COVID-19 so that they can be quickly removed from otherwise healthy assisted living centers.
That isolation strategy would also provide transitional care for elderly patients as they emerge from hospitalization or intensive care and recover.
Courthouse In Albuquerque Closes After Employee Tests Positive For COVID-19 – Albuquerque Journal, KUNM
A courthouse in downtown Albuquerque closed on Thursday after an employee tested positive for the coronavirus.
The Albuquerque Journal reported the 2nd Judicial District Courthouse is slated to reopen on Monday. The employee in question was last in the building on March 27 and began showing symptoms after that.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there is a 14-day window for potential exposure following contact with a person who is carrying the virus.
2nd Judicial District Chief Judge Stan Whitaker said officials do not believe any other employee in the courthouse contracted the virus, but the courthouse will be closed for a thorough cleaning before re-opening.
Holy Week: New Mexico Faithful Find God Beyond Church Walls - By Susan Montoya Bryan Associated Press
While it pains him, the head of one of the oldest Catholic dioceses in the United States says this Holy Week will be different for tens of thousands of parishioners in New Mexico. It has to be.
There will be no pilgrimages and no crowds packing the pews to celebrate Mass.
The Archdiocese of Santa Fe has been pleading with the faithful to heed public health orders and stay home.
Despite the rich traditions that culminate with Easter weekend, Archbishop John Wester says the new coronavirus is nothing to play around with.
He says: "It doesn't take a day off for Good Friday or Easter Sunday."
Among Catholics in New Mexico, there has been a wave of emotions from disappointment and sadness to a renewed sense of purpose. Wester said in an interview with The Associated Press that the crisis is resulting in people finding God in new places — beyond the church walls.
One priest within the archdiocese has tested positive for COVID-19. That priest, who the archbishop describes as young, is in self isolation and doing fine.
New Mexico Gets 3rd Surge In A Row On Unemployment Claims - By Russell Contreras, Associated Press
Federal numbers show that nearly 73,000 people in New Mexico have lost their jobs over the last three weeks.
The U.S. Department of Labor said Thursday 26,606 people in the state applied for unemployment benefits last week compared to a revised record of 27,849 the week before.
The ongoing swell in applications in one of the poorest U.S. states represent more evidence that the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the economy.
The Labor Department said 6.6 million Americans overall applied for unemployment benefits last week.
More than one in 10 workers in the U.S. have lost their jobs over just the past three weeks because of the economic fallout from coronavirus outbreak.
The national figures constitute the largest and fastest string of job losses in records dating to 1948. By contrast, during the Great Recession it took 44 weeks— about 10 months — for unemployment claims to go as high as they now have in less than a month.
Navajo President And Vice President In Self-Quarantine – KUNM News
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said on Thursday he and Vice President Myron Lizer are in self-quarantine because of being in close proximity to a first responder who tested positive for COVID-19.
Both men said they are not showing symptoms, but will follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on quarantining to prevent the spread of the virus.
Nez said a curfew will take effect from 8 p.m. Friday to 5 p.m. Monday except for essential employees with documentation from employers.
Navajo Police will enforce the curfew and violators could face a $1,000 fine and/or 30 days in jail.
Las Cruces Declares Citywide Emergency - Las Cruces Sun-News, Associated Press
Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima signed a citywide emergency proclamation Tuesday.
The Las Cruces Sun News reports the proclamation requires residents to keep following all the state's current public health orders to April 30.
The proclamation also allows the city easier access to emergency funding and grants more mayoral abilities, including enacting a curfew, restricting public gatherings and requiring area evacuations.
Drums, Dancers Livestream As Virus Moves Powwows Online- By Felicia Fonseca Associated Press
The largest powwows in the country have been canceled and postponed amid the spread of the coronavirus, including two of the largest in the U.S. — the Denver March Powwow and the Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque, New Mexico, held in April.
Tribal members have found a new outlet online with the Social Distance Powwow. They're sharing videos of colorful displays of culture and tradition that are at their essence meant to uplift people during difficult times.
The posts have become a nearly daily dose of medicine, songs, dances, well wishes, humor and happy birthdays.
The site also hosts a live powwow on the weekend where an emcee patches in drum groups, singers and dancers from across the country.