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 email@example.com 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.
New programs make more hotspots available to districts
Two of our major wireless carriers in NM are offering special pricing for students through school district programs.
In the T-Mobile plan, districts apply for devices directly from T-Mobile. New Mexico is eligible for 12,700 of these devices this year. There are three tiers of service for this plan, with prices ranging from free data and a free device to a $15 per month plan and a free device. The difference between the plans is the amount of data a student has available before being throttled back. CIPA filtering is included.
Eligibility is based on participation in the National School Lunch Program.
For more information, call Sarah Matute at 423-682-6367 or 844-301-2667. You can review program details on the program flier.
Assistance with Home Internet for Student Households
The New Mexico Broadband Program, a partnership between the Department of Information Technology,the Public Education Department, and other key supporters, agencies and organizations, is available to assist families with school age children to get Internet service at their homes. In conjunction with support from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund provided through the CARE’s Act, the program will work directly with area providers to ensure that every student household can obtain an internet connection. The program has also offered to work directly with school district IT departments to find connectivity solutions for district students who lack home internet connections. For more information, or to request a home connection, contact Eva Artschwager at 505-660-3434 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Farm to Table Initiative Launches
The El Valle Community Center Farm to Table initiative will launch with its first distribution on Monday 24 August. The initiative will provide locally grown produce from the valley to community members in need. Produce bags will be distributed Mondays from 10-1 at the San Miguel Senior Center and from 2-5 at the El Valle Community Center. To sign up, or for more information, call 575-421-0808 or 505-660-3434 and leave a message. Or email us at email@example.com. YOU MUST SIGN UP TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR PICK-UP.
Rummage and Bag Sale
On Saturday 22 August, the El Valle Community Center will host a rummage and bag sale from 9 to 12. Fill a small grocery-store sized bag with all the clothing it will hold for $1. Fill a large garbage sized bag for $5. We also have puzzles, children’s clothes, books, and housewares! Please join us outside with limited entrance into the front room. Masks and social distancing required!!
All prices are suggested donation prices and all proceeds go towards the Center and Library overhead and the Scholarship Fund.
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