Covid and closures
As the number od COVID cases iin NM continues to climb and remain high, many communities are responding with increased restrictions in addition to those set by the state. Noting the risk posed statewide and locally, Las Vegas Mayor Louie Trujillo issued a curfew for “every day of the week for the hours between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.” effective through November 6th. In Las Cruces, in Dona Ana County, which has seen the highest number of cases statewide on several days during the past week, Mayor Miyagashima issued an emergency proclamation increasing enforcement of mask wearing and closing the city’s indoor recreation facilities for a week.
In addition, the first winter storm, which has sent welcome moisture to much of the drought-stricken state, has caused delays and closed several facilities, including the Las Vegas Abe Montoya Recreation Center and the San Miguel County magistrate court. Between virus numbers and snow accumulation, it seems a good time to stay home for a few days, if possible.
At the Center - Food and Agriculture
The EVCC is winding down a successful produce distribution program that was made possible by funding from the New Mexico Farmers' Marketing Association. The program allowed the distribution of bags of produce to over 40 participants, including seniors and other community members in the El Valle region. Funding allowed the center to support local agriculture by purchasing produce from growers in the valley and distributing it locally to those in need. This benefitted the community and local agriculture by increasing incentives for growers to distribute their product locally, making it possible to keep locally grown food in the area and providing a food resource in a community that is classified, despite its rich agricultural tradition, as a food desert due to an absence of grocery retail outlets. The Center plans to expand the program next year to include a local farmers market outlet and a subscription CSA.
Additionally the food front – starting in late November, the Community Center will become a distribution point for the ECHO commodity food program for seniors living in the El Valle region. The program includes distribution of food boxes every other month to anyone over 60 who meets the income criteria of need. To learn more, consult the program flier and fill out a program application. For more information, contact the El Valle Community ‘Center at 505-660-3434 or email email@example.com.
COVID updates and testing
The number of cases of the coronavirus continue to rise across the state, and hospital capacity is now at risk due to the escalating numbers of hospitalized patients with COVID. Governor Lujan-Grisham’s most recent update emphasized safe practices, including wearing masks, social distancing, and avoiding group of more than five, as critical factors in limiting the spread of the virus. The state announcement also included additional restrictions that will go into effect starting Friday October 23rd. These restrictions further curtail indoor dining and address hours of operation for other close-contact businesses. In addition, the restrictions mandate a two week closure period for any business that experiences more than 4 rapid response testing events within a 14 day period.
Residents of San Migeul County wishing to get tested for the novel coronavirus can do so by registering on the New Mexico Department of Health coronavirus testing site. Once registered, you will need to call to make an appointment by phone at your facility. El Centro Familiy Health also posts a weekly testing schedule for Las Vegas. To view the current schedule, go to the El Centro Family Health website and click on the turquoise “Eastern Region” tab on the Home page. The schedule for the current week can be viewed here.
Vote early, by mail, or at the polls
Voter turnout in New Mexico continues to be high, with a total of 440,000 votes already counted in the state. This includes almost 229,000 early in-person votes cast and 211,000 absentee ballots that have been returned and counted.
As per Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, mail-in or absentee ballots that are being mailed in should be sent on or before October 27th in order to be received in time to be counted. Any mail-in or absentee ballots that are not sent by that time can also be turned in at a polling location by 7:00 p.m. November 3rd (the day of the election).
Early voting has begun and will continue until October 31st. You can view a summary of voting information here and a list of locations for election day voting and early voting here. Note that the early voting site in Ribera is open Tuesday – Saturday from 10 – 6. IT IS CLOSED SUNDAYS AND MONDAYS.
For more information, contact the San Miguel County Clerk’s office at 505-425-9331.
NOTE: If you have questions about voting or need assistance, including registration or transportation for El Valle residents to a voting or absentee ballot drop off site, contact the El Valle Community Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 505-660-3434 or 575-421-0808 and leave a message.
A few more hours
That is all the time that remains for you to get counted in the 2020 Census. The time to complete the 2020 Census officially stops at midnight tonight. Please call (844) 330-2020 or email my2020census.gov to complete the Census. Get counted to save the school lunch programs, early childhood education facilities, and rural clinics in your community.
Early voting has begun in New Mexico and 140,000 ballots have already been cast. There is still ample time to vote by mail so that your ballot is received in time to get counted. You can also vote early at a polling place near you. Check this flier for a review of voting options and locations. It’s too important to wait. Vote now.
Rise in COVID cases prompts new restrictions
New Mexico continues to struggle with high rates of coronavirus. Governor Lujan-Grisham's press conference last week and her announcement today provided stark numbers regarding the rise in COVID rates currently present in the state. New Mexico logged 3,410 cases in the two weeks ending on October 7th, is not meeting its gating criteria, and is one of only four states that have seen an increase of over 100% in cases during that period. Due to these high numbers, public health guidelines have been updated to implement further limits on hotel capacity, restaurant hours, and self-quarantine for out of state travelers. Additionally, school sports programs will not be permitted and the size of gatherings will go down from 10 to 5. The updated guidelines go into effect Friday October 16th.
Last week's press conference also emphasized the importance of COVID safe practices at work, limiting travel to a daily COVID-safe triangle, and stressed the importance of these behaviors. The governor also provided information and suggestions for COVID-safe Halloween activities.
Time to be counted has ended.
On Tuesday, October 13th, the Supreme Court voted in favor of the Trump administration's request to halt the Census 2020 count immediately. As Justice Sotomayor, who cast the sole dissenting vote, noted (as reported in the Washington Post), "even a fraction of a percent of the nation's 140 million households amounts to hundreds of thousands of people left uncounted. And, significantly, the percentage of non-responses is likely much higher among marginalized populations and in hard to count areas, such as rural and tribal lands." Rural portions of San Miguel County represent one of the most difficult to count portions of the state and are chronically undercounted. An undercount can mean decreases in critical services such as rural clinics, school lunch programs, early childhood education, Medicaid and Medicare, Supplemental Nutrition Program (SNAP) and more.
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