BELEN, N.M. (KRQE) – We’re getting a look into just how quickly the coronavirus spreads once it pops up in a small community. Valencia County has seen 61 new cases in the last week; that’s a lot for that small county. We’re also seeing how the state is racing into action to slow the spread.
Cases popping up, businesses shutting down from an outbreak in Belen that may have even reached a funeral at a catholic church. Some of those cases are centered around a trio of prominent medical offices.
“Due to COVID exposure the office will be closed August 10th through 17th and will reopen Tuesday, August 18th.” That’s the voicemail message people are hearing when calling Dr. Roland Sanchez’s office in Belen.
According to the New Mexico Environment Department, Sanchez’s medical practice along with Yucca Veterinary Medical center owned by his son and Conquistador Dental owned by another son all had at least one employee test positive for coronavirus on August 10.
One of the people who tested positive from one of those businesses attended a funeral at the Our Lady of Belen Catholic Church last Thursday. People who attended said it was clear that the person was not feeling well. They say there were about 60 people there.
The church is now telling anyone who attended to watch for symptoms and consider getting tested. They are also sanitizing the church. Environmental Health Secretary James Kinney says stopping community spread has been a priority for the state through its Rapid Response initiative.
“We ask employers to work with us, temporarily pause operations, test employees as directed,” says James Kinney, Environmental Health Secretary.
The state’s now investigated more than 1,500 businesses across New Mexico with at least one COVID-positive case. Another key element of stopping the spread is contact tracing. “What contact tracers and case investigators do right now, is focus on that case itself and who they had contact with,” says Dr. David Scrase, Secretary Human Services Department.
Wednesday alone, the state conducted more than 60 rapid responses to businesses around New Mexico. KRQE News 13 did reach out to the family connected to those businesses we mentioned. The Sanchez family released the following statement Thursday night:
The Sanchez family, through their practices, have reached out to the State of New Mexico to provide the names of people who might have come into contact with some employees who tested positive for COVID-19. The family is cooperating with the New Mexico Department of Health and Department of Workforce Solutions as they continue to follow best practices, as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control, to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The offices have been professionally sanitized in advance for anticipated reopening.Sanchez family
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