Mayor Keller hosts virtual town hall Tuesday

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Mayor Tim Keller and Alicia Manzano with the City of Albuquerque took part in a virtual conversation on Tuesday, May 26 to answer Albuquerque residents’ questions regarding the local coronavirus response. Residents were able to text questions to the mayor ahead of the event.

Mayor Keller reminded citizens Phase One of the state’s economy reopening is in place and masks are required in public. To continue to make progress toward the next phase, Keller states that residents must continue to practice safety protocols such as social distancing and frequent hand washing.

Because of the number of people who are asymptomatic, what is the city and state doing to provide antibody testing?

Mayor Keller: First off I want to mention there’s a lot of unknown science around antibodies and so forth so I mean, it’s okay to get tested but you know, how helpful it is and this kind of thing I would really ask a legal expert or research a legal expert. But, in terms of getting tested, they are available here in Albuquerque and so the Department of Health is the primary coordinator for testing and tracing and so there’s a few places like Duke City Urgent Care, NextCare Urgent Care, Southwest Labs, they’re offering different types of antibody testing right now. You can make an appointment for those. And so right here in the city of course we are testing our first responders so our sort of test case for testing are first responders so at least we know who has antibodies and who doesn’t. Again, we don’t necessarily know how effective or not that is but might as well go get tested if you’re interested in that. And again, it’s good to know going forward so those are the three areas you can get it right now.

Is there any possibility of having a graduation ceremony for the class of 2020?

Mayor Keller: Look, it’s really tough and I just want to kind of give you a direct answer as I can. You know, one, an official ceremony and so forth would obviously have to be organized by your high school in that something that may be a possibility kind of at the end of the summer. So, we’ll see if there’s interest in that depending on where we’re at from a health perspective. In the meantime of course, participate in the virtual graduation you know families are allowed to get together so that’s always important too. And what I would suggest is one thing you could do is plan a graduation celebration with friends and family for like the middle of July or end of July the assumption being that at least, gatherings of 30 or something like that would be allowed so you can at least have that kind of ceremony and it will also give you something to do. So that’s something I know a lot of people are sort of looking forward to and if all goes well I think that will be fine in July and if there’s anything official I would really check in with your high school it will be up to them to make that decision.

When will libraries be reopened and when will we be able to get books reserved online?

Mayor Keller: Libraries are are so much to our community and those who use them understand… So what we’re doing is we’ve mapped out the details. The good news is we believe we’re going to be able to open libraries the first week of June so it should be next week. Now as with all our city reopening, we’re doing it in a way that’s consistent with the state public health order. So much like when you go into a retail store you’re going to be limited in capacity. The computers aren’t going to be available there’s just too much touching, but you are going to be able to check out books and so that’s a great thing. Stay tuned for that next week actually and as we go into further phases we’ll again gradually open libraries more.

We know there’s been a huge economic impact because of the closures on some small businesses. Do you know how many businesses have closed because of COVID?

Mayor Keller: In terms of the specific numbers I don’t have a number readily available but I’ll kind of explain a couple of data points that might be helpful. One, is that we put out a grant program. We just gave these businesses $5-grand of emergency money so that they wouldn’t have to close forever…. So we’re hoping folks could just hang on long enough to get back up and running but I know a lot of that is dependent on these federal programs and so forth. And just if you are happy to be interested in data things are data six weeks trailing so like the most recent economic data I have is from March so I will be able to answer your question directly at the end of June for at least half of May.

What resources are available for ADA community and what’s open/closed?

Mayor Keller: The best thing you can do depending on her disability is probably call 311. In general the city facilities are mostly ADA compliant so you are going to be able to get access to the transit system which is opening back up in a larger scale mid-June, libraries next week and the other city facilities. Also, I would contact our office of civil rights so call 311 and ask them that’s part of our office of equity and inclusion and they can probably give you a specific answer for different things that you’re looking for.

When will pools open?

Mayor Keller: We are going to open the pools up but not to the public, only on a reservation basis and we’re going to start taking those reservations the second week of June. So around June 6th we’re going to start doing this. Now we do need the state to kind of blessing that so we’ll see when it comes to June 6 if they have or not but we’re going to be ready and plan for it so that if it’s OK we’ll be doing that.

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