State health officials Monday afternoon announced four new presumptive positive COVID-19 cases, bringing the state total to 21.
The most recent cases are all from Bernalillo County and include a 20-year-old male; two 30-year old females and one 80-year-old man. A state spokeswoman said all are self-isolating at home.
Also on Monday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued five executive orders that authorizes up to $3.25 million of additional state funding for emergency response and disaster relief efforts to address the COVID-19 public health emergency.
The funding includes $750,000 each to the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management; the Department of Health; and the Children, Youth and Families Department. It also includes $250,000 New Mexico National Guard for payment of expenses incident to the provision of the humanitarian relief and other assistance to civil authorities. $750,000 already had been allocated to the Guard this fiscal year.
Over the weekend, the state identified six new cases and the governor directed state offices to accelerate plans for telework, shuttered all state cultural institutions and the Health Secretary ordered all restaurants and bars to only fill to half capacity. Specific state agency updates in response to the virus are available here.
With self-isolation in place, some state officials are taking to the internet to communicate with constituents. State Auditor Brian Colón held a Facebook live event Monday morning and plans to do the same on Tuesday morning at 9 am.
"Those of us who are extroverts are feeling the oxygen deplete from our blood cells," Colón said. "I'm used to having anywhere from six to eight meetings a day and two events each evening, so it's been a bit of a challenge to survive without that incredible human interaction."
Colón discussed the need to "flatten the curve" for the spread of the virus, "making sure we don't put an untenable burden on our health care system." The state, he says, has "several hundred beds for ICU, most of them are taken at this moment, with contingency and redundancy plans in place to increase and cover other facilities in the event that we need them, but the health care system is strained."
The state auditor also praised the governor for decisive action in canceling public events last week. "This administration…has been ahead of the curve," Colón said.
Colón also shared information from the Department of Workforce Solutions, which has set up a system for employees to apply for benefits from wages lost as the result of COVID-19.
Colón encouraged those participating in the Facebook live event to send their questions and said he would try to facilitate answers.
And, of course, he encouraged everyone to keep washing their hands and avoiding contact. "I am the most hugging, handshaking individual in New Mexico," he said, "but I have not shaken a hand in the last few days." Colón said he also was eschewing the "elbow bump," having read an article that it actually brings people's faces closer together. "Best practices are, let's not touch each other at this point."
Also on Monday, US Rep. Ben Ray Luján announced he was self-quarantining after contact with someone who later tested positive for the virus. A news release said Luján had no symptoms and was advised by health professionals that he probably was not infected. Tomorrow, Lujan will be holding a "teletownhall" at 7 pm with Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel. The call in number: 877-229-8493 Code:112437.
In the private sector, Public Service Company of New Mexico announced it would be suspending disconnections for late payments.
And following the panic-run on goods and supplies, Smith's Food & Drug Stores today announced that it is hiring workers immediately to deal with increased demand in response to COVID-19.
The Santa Fe Animal Shelter announced on Monday it would be limiting several of its programs. Adoptions will be only be held 11 am to 6 pm, Fridays through Mondays; no adoptions will be held Tuesdays through Thursdays in order to reduce the risk to staff, who are currently caring for 150 animals. All behavior and training classes have been suspended. The shelter's resale stores, The Cat North and the Cat South both are closed.
The shelter will continue to take in stray animals and operate its hospital. However, surrenders will be accepted on an emergency basis. People should call 505-983-4309, ext. 1606 if they need to surrender their pet.
Lastly, the shelter (100 Caja Del Rio Road) is offering free pet food from its campus while supplies last to families in need.
"We hope by providing food to families in need, during this pandemic, we can keep animals in their homes," shelter spokesman Murad Kirdar said in a news release.