Testing and COVID-19 in indigenous communities
The spread of COVID-19 in New Mexico continues, but even as the rate of cases increases, the continuing and “aggressive” use of testing to identify more individuals with the virus has made New Mexico a leader among the states. As the news outlet Talking Points Memo reports, this strategy, which was a statewide coordinated effort between officials, departments, and both public and private labs, will help make the “surge” in cases smaller and less overwhelming when it comes.
Despite these positive steps, the coronavirus continues to have a disproportionate impact on New Mexico’s indigenous populations, which are seeing a higher percentage of positive cases and deaths due to the virus. Management measures on Navajo lands and pueblos include increasing the supply of medical equipment, enacting strictly enforced curfews, and closing access through vulnerable tribal communities.
Thanks to all who pointed out additional free wifi access points in Las Vegas and the surrounding areas. I have listed below those new sites that could be confirmed and added them to our complete listing. You can access the full updated list through the El Valle Community Center free wifi access points webpage.
Extension of restrictions
In an announcement made on Monday,6 April, Governor Lujan-Grisham extended, until April 30th, the current regulations governing socially distancing, staying home, and other measures that help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. In addition to the existing restrictions, the Governor ordered new guidelines for those essential businesses that remain open, including new practices to limit capacity and protect workers. She also mandated closure of all automobile dealerships, payday lending institutions, and liquor stores. The announcement, which appears on the New Mexico state website, continues to strongly encourage everyone to limit outings and use face coverings in public.
Building a list of free wifi access
As classes and work have moved online, the need for internet access for everyone has increased. This means that the many residents who do not have internet connectivity at home will rely on free wifi access points to complete school assignments, work from home, and get updated emergency health information. To respond to this need, the El Valle Community Center is building a list of free wifi access points in Las Vegas and surrounding communities. Please call the individual facility if you have questions about the connectivity.
The Carnegie Library in Las Vegas - The wifi signal can be accessed outside the library in surrounding grounds. Instructions for login are posted on the front door. 505-426-3304
McDonalds in Las Vegas – The wifi extends into the outside area, but seating at outside tables is currently not allowed. Connection should be available from vehicles in the parking lot. 505-454-1103
Wendy's in Las Vegas - The wifi extends outside, but seating at outside tables is currently not allowed. A wifi connection should be available from vehicles in the parking lot. 505-426-8180
San Miguel Senior Center - The center has wifi that extends outside into the parking area but may be unreliable. Note that the parking area is fenced and locked when the center is not open. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Center has a limited schedule. Call 575-421-9570 for hours.
PLEASE HELP US BUILD THE LIST!
We need more, and more reliable, public wifi access points!
Email us with additions or corrections to this list: email@example.com
A socially distanced Easter Egg Hunt
And yes, even the Easter bunny has to social distance. But the hunt goes on.
As the country heads towards what is projected to be a difficult week, and the extended isolation and diffuse stress of the moment tax our inner resources, its helpful to remember the extensive support that continues to be made available to help New Mexicans get through this crisis. A few examples of this effort are provided below:
Last week, the New Mexico Economic Development Department and the Small Business Administration presented a webinar to assist small business owners in applying for government economic relief opportunities. The webcast of that presentation is available online. Additional forms, including application and information sheets about the paycheck protection program, and a question and answer sheet, are attached. New Mexico SCORE will be hosting a similar webinar tomorrow. Register here.
For Families Learning at Home
Local schools as well as the New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED) are providing information, resources, and support for students learning at home. NMPED has a list of resources to help teachers and families access supplemental resources and learning ideas. West Las Vegas High School is answering questions and providing information for parents about using the school’s online classrooms on the school Facebook page. Older students can get help with their assignments by using the Brainfuse online study and tutoring portal. Students can also do research and learning using Kids Info-Bits. This site provides information about a wide range of topics, and offers full audio versions for many entries.
A partnership between the Albuquerque Public Schools and New Mexico public media stations is bringing new educational opportunities to students who are now learning from home. Beginning April 6th, public broadcasting stations will provide lessons to support learning for students ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade. According to an article in the Las Cruces Sun News, “educational broadcasts will cover an array of subjects and give elementary-aged students the opportunity to access valuable learning tools even though they are unable to physically attend class for the remainder of the year.” Lesson topics and grade-level materials will be provided according to a daily M-F schedule available at KRWG learning website. Programming will also be available on-demand for viewing after the event through the APS youtube video channel and will include bi-lingual materials.
Information for this post also appeared in the NM Political Report.
With many businesses closing for a second consecutive month and the number of layoffs continuing to increase, most New Mexicans are feeling the sudden and severe economic consequences of the coronavirus. This financial hardship is also being experienced on the state level, where revenue losses are predicted to be over a billion dollars, and fiscal recovery for the state is projected to potentially take more than a year. In the midst of these ongoing dire economic predictions, it’s important to recognize and take advantage of the resources available to New Mexicans.
Expanded unemployment coverage – Access to unemployment insurance for those who have lost work due to the COVID-19 has been speeded up, allowing applicants to receive coverage payments more quickly. For information about general unemployment coverage under the pandemic, consult the state information for workers webpage. Additional information on expanded coverage under the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) can be found on the state Pandemic Unemployment Assistance webpage.
Protection from eviction - New Mexico courts ordered a pause on all evictions due to an inability to pay during the COVID-19 pandemic. This action protects renters from eviction during the virus outbreak period. Tenants will need to provide proof of their inability to pay. More information is available on the New Mexico Courts webpage. Scroll down to “Evictions Paused” and click on this section.
Government stimulus payments – In the coming weeks, individual taxpayers should be receiving stimulus payments from the federal government in the form of checks for $1200 per taxpayer for taxpayers with an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or below. Recent adjustments to the provision will allow anyone on social security to receive these checks automatically, even if they have not filed an income tax return. For more information, see the Washington Post article from April 1.
Support for businesses – The New Mexico Economic Development Department will host a webinar tomorrow Friday 3 April, starting at noon. State and federal experts will provide an overview of the resources available to support business owners during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can register for the webinar on the New Mexico Economic Development Department website. Click on the webinar’s “register here” link in the menu on the left hand side of the Home page. You can also watch a video of the webinar after the event.
Grants to small non-profits – The Santa Fe Community Foundation is providing small grants to small non-profits that are experiencing hardship due to the coronovirus. Non-profits in San Miguel County are eligible for this funding. The current grant cycle will be directed towards organizations “focusing on health/wellbeing and food insecurity.” Applications are available on the SFCF COVID-19 grant application webpage.
A complete listing of resources to help individuals, small businesses, and organizations deal with the economic impact of the pandemic is provided on the state resource pages:
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