New app for COVID-19 tracking in New Mexico
Thanks to the technical leadership of the New Mexico Department of Transportation, with a collaborative consisting of Real Time Solutions, Esri, Earth Data Analysis Center/UNM, and the New Mexico Department of Health, the state has released three new solutions to help provide information and assist New Mexicans during the COVID-19 outbreak: a COVID-19 dashboard for desktop, a dashboard for mobile, and a test-site locator app. The dashboards provide comprehensive information about cases of COVID-19 in New Mexico and provide statewide and county-specific numbers for: total tests administered, confirmed cases, hospitalizations, recoveries, and testing sites. The dashboards, which are updated every 5-10 minutes, also include graphs of case distributions according to gender, ethnicity, and age. The test site locator, also updated in near real time, incorporates over 79 testing sites, with full search, mapping, and site information available for each.
Desktop Operation Dashboard
Mobile Operation Dashboard
Testing Site Locator App
Pretty cool. Please explore.
Restrictions and resistance
Information and news updates have continued to support the continuation of practices that have slowed the speed and spread of the coronavirus - restrictions on travel, businesses closures, social distancing, and practicing the basic precautions of hand washing and face coverings in public. Medical experts caution that peaks in case numbers have not yet been reached and that ongoing restrictions are still essential. Citing “experts and frontline officials from…abroad,” Pro Publica and the New Mexico Political Report enumerate basic criteria that must be in place before states and localities can reopen, including contact tracing, increased testing, capacity to adequately protect healthcare workers, and isolation strategies for those infected.
Yet despite this consensus among those with knowledge of, and experience with, the virus, recent days have also witnessed the growing strain and increasing need that has been caused by the economic deprivations of the pandemic. Reports in the Santa Fe New Mexican and New Mexico In Depth highlight the many businesses are on the brink of closure. In some places, where the need and the strain has become acute, calls for re-opening have become strident: over the weekend, the U.S. saw protests for ending lockdowns in Montana, Washington, Colorado and Arizona; other countries witnessed disruptions and rallies calling for an end to economic restrictions, according to the Washington Post. In parts of France, where low-income and migrant communities have been especially hard hit, President Macron “acknowledged the disparity of what lockdown means for different communities,” pointing to lack of internet connectivity in low-income households that further hinder engagement and prevent children from participating in online classes. Protests in France turned violent over the weekend, with police clashing with protestors insisting that the economy must be restarted at once.
Critical Media Literacy
As tensions build around financial strain and public health measures, the outsized influence that misinformation can have in our online and social media environment has once again come to the fore. An example is provided by a report released Sunday claiming that “[a] trio of far-right pro-gun provocateurs is behind some of the largest Facebook groups calling for anti-quarantine protests around the country….,” thereby building the impression that “opposition to the restrictions is more widespread” than it may actually be.
This incident and the many others like it underscore the need for all of us to scrutinize the online sources we use carefully, and to follow the guidelines of critical media literacy for all the information that we consume. The sources below offer guildelines to help assess the current information on COVID-19 and can be applied to all online and print information resources with which we engage.
COVID-19 updates for New Mexico, indigenous communities
On Wednesday, April 15th, Governor Lujan-Grisham held a press conference in which she updated New Mexicans on the status of COVID-19 infections in the state, including the growing number of cases occurring on the Navajo Nation. The rapidly escalating number of cases in indigenous communities, including both Navajo and Pueblo lands, has drawn attention across the nation, in part because it underscores an increasing awareness of the disparately harsher toll the virus is taking on the lower socioeconomic sectors of the country. Not only are those in poverty more likely to become infected due to higher rates of underlying medical conditions and lower access to quality medical care; it is also clear that those in poverty are more likely to experience negative economic impacts from the virus and the response to it. For many native and indigenous populations, these factors are further compounded by multigenerational households and a lack of critical infrastructure that heighten the risk of both infection and contagion, according to Allison Barlow, director of the Center for American Indian Health. These conditions have led government entities and indigenous businesses to set up special quarantine facilitiesfor members of indigenous communities who are awaiting coronavirus test results or who have already tested positive for the virus.
The governor also announced that New Mexico would be “working with the federal government on a pilot program related to contact tracing and surveillance related to tracking the spread of COVID-19,“ according to an article in the NM Political Report.
Census 2020 and COVID-19
The spread of the COVID-19 virus and the resulting closure of all non-essential businesses has already impacted the Census 2020 count in New Mexico. According to an article by the Associated Press, responses across the state are down by 10% at this time. This is due largely to the fact that 18% of New Mexicans, many of whom are rural and who “don’t have standard addresses or …[who] use P.O. boxes,” will not be receiving their census forms in the mail. Fortunately, Census field operations will be resuming in June, and field representatives will be making door to door visits at that time to all households who have not received their forms. It is recommended that those who have not yet received census forms in the mail wait until a visit from a census worker between June 13th – July 9th. For questions or additional information, please contact the El Valle Community Center at 575-421-0808 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Digital Divide and COVID-19
For many, the COVID-19 epidemic has emphasized the importance of broadband access. In a recent report on the larger economic impact of the coronoavirus pandemic, the Brookings Institute notes that “... for millions of Americans without in-home broadband, the consequences of digital disparity have become more apparent over the past few weeks….” as those without connectivity “face an even larger set of digital barriers than they did two months ago, whether it’s students who cannot attend school online, an adult who cannot telework, or a family who cannot get groceries delivered.” While school districts across the state are working to accommodate students without adequate internet connectivity as class work migrates to online platforms, the fact remains that those without a good internet connection and a reliable computer are likely to fall behind in school as a result of the current pandemic.
Learn more about state and local responses to the digital divide and the COVID-19 outbreak at the National Digital Inclusion Alliance COVID-19 response page.
Local food to support those who have lost income
In an effort to address the sudden need that many are feeling due to loss of employment or business, HelpNM has partnered with local farmers, ranchers, and other members of the community to provide immediate access to basic food items for those in need. According to local mailings received by area residents, “s6 Ranch has teamed up with Abrose Castellano and Roger Gonzales from Chicanos Por La Causa to help build baskets of food to donate to those affected by COVID-19 virus…. The baskets will be donated to those who are left without a job or ...[are] not receiving income at this time." Food donations include beef, rice and beans, and other items contributed by local suppliers. For more information or to sign up, visit the HelpNM sign up page for the “Care Package of food and supplies.”
San Miguel County COVID-19 drive-through testing schedule
The following schedule has been announced for COVID-19 drive-through testing in San Miguel County during the week of April 20th:
City and County Meetings – future and past
The official canvass of election results for the city of Las Vegas will be held on Monday April 20th, at 8:30 a.m. This will be a Special Meeting with the board of San Miguel County Commissioners. The meeting will take place at the City of Las Vegas Council Chambers, 1700 North Grand Avenue.
The San Miguel County Commissioners held their regular meeting on Monday 14 April 2020 via Zoom. The agenda for the meeting is available on the county meetings webpage, but no video of the meeting has been posted yet.
Census Bureau extends deadlines
The Census Bureau yesterday announced that is would a delay the timetable for collecting and delivering census data from the 2020 count. According to an article published in the New York Times, “The bureau ... said it would extend the deadline for collecting census data, now Aug. 15, to Oct. 31, and would begin reopening its field offices — which have been shuttered since mid-March — sometime after June 1.” This is good news for New Mexico, as it provides additional time to encourage full participation in the census among the many hard to count sectors of the population in San Miguel and other rural counties.
A slow recovery and a time for professional development
While the past week saw some of the highest peaks for hospitalizations and deaths from the coronavirus, it also saw signs of hope in what appears to be a small leveling in the growth of new virus cases in some places. Infection rates have declined in Washington and California, and even New York, while still showing high numbers overall, appeared to be slowly beginning to flatten the curve. Yet for other areas, the number of cases is just beginning to grow. In an interview with Jake Tapper on CNN, Governor Lujan-Grisham predicted that New Mexico might not hit its peak of cases until late in May.
As we have become more accustomed to staying home, social distancing, and limiting our person-to-person interactions, we have also begun to look ahead and prepare for some degree of “return and recovery.” Most of us understand that this process will be gradual, partial, and staged, impacting each state, sector, and locale differently, but we may find it more challenging to know how to adapt to this uncertain forecast. As business and employment systems continue to be disrupted, it now appears that the wide gaps in our days and lives will persist into the future, making it difficult to discern viable paths forward into unknown circumstances.
It can be helpful to reframe these openings as an opportunity, a time in which to pursue the professional development training that we may have been wanting or needing for some time. When we fill the open spaces in our work day schedule with strategic, targeted learning related to our employment or business goals, the learning can provide a sense of engagement and control that few of us have felt during the past month. Gaining new skills and enhancing our knowledge can also help us to feel more positive about our circumstances, making it easier to face the future amidst its unpredictability.
There are several websites that offer access to free online professional development training courses. Some learning portals, such as EdX and Coursera, collect large numbers of courses and include some that are more academic in focus. But they also offer many classes in basic business and leadership skills. Other sites, such as LinkedIn Learning, offer a more curated and targeted range of professional development learning opportunities. However, LinkedIn Learning has a per month charge that applies after the first month, which is offered free. The Small Business Administration provides courses and guides targeted to starting and managing a small business and geared to specific “hands-on” skills.
For a more developed list of free online professional development trainings, please visit our “Programs” tab of the main navigation bar at the top of the page.
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