Mayor Keller, city officials prepare for surge in virus cases, continue to monitor nursing homes

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Mayor Tim Keller and Albuquerque city officials held a press conference on the city’s local coronavirus response efforts on Monday and addressed the outbreak of the virus at local nursing and retirement homes.

Mayor Keller began the conference by explaining that based on national data, the country is anticipated to have peak surges of the virus in the next two weeks. He stated that while New Mexico is slightly behind the nation’s trend, the state is expecting conditions to become difficult over the weekend and into next week.

The Emergency Operation Center is working on how the city will deal with the upcoming weeks in terms of supplies and hospital beds. Mayor Keller says that the EOC has been working on a respite concept that will be revealed in the upcoming days.

New Mexico State Police have put out additional information regarding the public health order. First time violators of the order will be issued a warning while third and subsequent offences can include a $100 fine or six-months imprisonment. Civilian penalties may include up to a $5,000 fine for each violation. To report business non-compliance or to report a mass gathering, email NMSP.COVID19@state.nm.us and include the date and time of the observation, the city, county, as well as business name and address.

On Monday, Albuquerque Public Schools announced it will be distributing Chromebooks to families who don’t have access to a computer in order for students to take part in online education. This comes as the district has also announced it will be broadcasting lessons on NMPBS and also have them available on the district’s YouTube channel.

Currently, there are three school-based health clinics that are open. These are located at Emerson Elementary School, Grant Middle School, and Atrisco Heritage High School.

Mayor Keller also discussed challenges the city has faced regarding the enforcement of social distancing at big box stores. He cited an incident that took place over the weekend at a Lowe’s Home Improvement store that held a sale. Several calls were made to authorities to report the violation of the ongoing public health order.

Mayor Keller said additional information regarding this will be provided by the state.

Nursing homes

City officials discussed challenges they continue to have regarding COVID-19 cases in nursing homes. Last week, the city announced that the La Vida Llena retirement community had multiple residents and employees test positive for the virus.

While city officials say they have reached out to numerous retirement communities, rehab facilities and other institutions that cater to a large population of at-risk residents, multiple facilities have not responded to the city’s request to ensure guidance is being followed. Mayor Keller said that the city has reached out to over 150 facilities to make sure they are following proper infection guidance and are also screening residents and staff for the virus and implementing best practices regarding isolation.

During this process, officials report that some facilities were still participating in group activities as well as communal dining. Deputy director of the Albuquerque Environmental Health Dept. Mark DiMenna stated that these practices are to stop and the department will be assisting facilities with COVID-19 screening guidance and how they can arrange for testing.

At this time, the following facilities have not been in contact with city officials: Diersen Charities Inc., Uptown Rehabilitation Center, Marler Manor, Namaste Living, Princeton Place, Robin House, Sandia Senior Suites, Sandia View Spain, Silver Wings Assisted Living, Tender Heart, Tercer Cielo, The New Beginnings Senior Living, The Village at Alameda, Total Community Care, Turning Point Detox, Wellesley Care Home, Westbridge Assisted Living, and Wilson Family Care.

If you are an employee at one of the listed facilities you are asked to call 311 and ask to speak with the Environmental Health Department to ensure the safety of staff and residents and to ensure there are no cases of rapid virus spread.

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