ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Mayor Tim Keller and Albuquerque city officials held a press conference at the Emergency Operations Center on Thursday to discuss the center and public safety amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Mayor Keller began the briefing by discussing updates from around central New Mexico.

UNMH is showing support to healthcare workers through a creative sign campaign. UNMH is encouraging residents and businesses to offer support by creating positive signs offering support to healthcare workers and posting them in your windows, yard or outside storefronts.

On Wednesday, the city was notified that it had its first positive COVID-19 case in a retirement community. The case is at La Vida Llena.

The city reminds the public that grocery stores are essential facilities and residents are encouraged to visit them alone.

Convenience centers are busier than usual as they normally are during the spring season however, lines are longer as residents are encouraged to practice social distancing.

Mayor Keller explained that they are in the planning phases of potentially using the Convention Center as a field hospital however, there is no set plan for that project at this time. Anything plans regarding the Convention Center are weeks away.

The city will start inspecting nursing homes as they are high risk areas for COVID-19. Deputy Director for the city’s Environmental Health Dept. Dr. Mark DiMenna explained that the department along with Code Enforcement will be enforcing health guidelines at grocers, nursing homes and other businesses.

DiMenna stated that they are also aware of a potential COVID-19 case at a retirement home in Rio Rancho. The city is reaching out to facilities to discuss best practices and to ensure they are properly reacting to the situation.

Albuquerque Fire Rescue Lieutenant Brian Fox highlighted just how the Emergency Operation Center runs and stated that through the center, they have issued out 42,875 face masks. The public is reminded that there is no smoking in Open Space areas and AFR has seen an increase in this.

The city will be heavily monitoring smoking in these areas and residents are asked to report it by calling 242-COPS.

Seventy businesses have been reported to New Mexico State Police that have not been in compliance with the health order allowing only essential businesses to be open. A large number of these businesses have been massage parlors and smoke shops.

Other businesses that have not been in compliance are barbershops, salons, and gun shops. The fire marshal reminds the community that there are penalties for noncompliance including criminal penalties of $100 fine or up to six months in jail. Civil penalties can be up to a $5,000 fine for each situation that businesses are cited for.

Mayor Keller stated that in order for a business to be considered a grocery store, 50% of the floor plan must be food and groceries. Convenience stores are in compliance however, businesses such as smoke shops that begin selling candy bars to get around the order are not in the clear and will be cited .

The Albuquerque Police Department will be enforcing the essential business order and will be increasing enforcement. The public is reminded that social distancing applies at parks and large gatherings are not allowed.

Related Coverage: