The City of Santa Fe is providing housing for Santa Fe’s homeless at Midtown campus, Mayor Alan Webber said during an online news conference Monday.
"Homeless people should be able to experience social distancing just like anybody else," said Webber, noting that Santa Fe's homeless population are both among those most at risk of contracting COVID-19 and those who pose the greatest risk of spreading the virus.
A 30% infection rate among the region's homeless population would be enough to overwhelm the healthcare system, Webber added, citing estimates by national healthcare experts.
Webber said the city has spent around $25,000 in the last week to begin refurbishing dorm rooms with the goal of making 150 beds available to those who need them most. The rooms will be located in different buildings and on different floors to try to maintain as much social distance as possible.
Five symptomatic individuals already spent the weekend at the campus as they awaited test results.
"We pivoted very quickly from thinking those were mothballed for good to rallying to get them made available for some very, very at-risk individuals," the mayor said.
Community Services Department Director Kyra Ochoa said that the beds will be organized based on four levels of urgency—people who are vulnerable to infection, people who are showing symptoms, people who are awaiting test results and people who have tested positive.
In total, the city expects that it will cost around $65,000 to bring the dorm rooms up to acceptable living standards and provide water, heating, light and other amenities to the residents. According to Public Works Director Regina Wheeler, that comes out to less than $50 a night per bed, including operations.
The Army Corp of Engineers is also assessing the viability of the Fogelson library at Midtown campus as a potential location to built a large scale alternative care facility with the capacity to treat large numbers of sick people if Santa Fe experiences a surge of cases in coming weeks. Additional locations that are also under consideration include the Santa Fe Convention Center and the Santa Fe Community College.
Other new developments to the city's emergency response include the creation of an Emergency Operations Center that will act as a command central for strategic responses and help for small businesses.
The city plans to launch a small businesses resources webinar on Tuesday of next week and is providing scholarships for small businesses to join a University of New Mexico Rebound and Recovery webinar, which will also begin next week.
Residents can now find all resources available in response to the COVID-19 crisis at a new city website, alltogethersantafe.org.