The Bernalillo County commission authorized broad emergency authority to the county manager in a meeting March 17.
The unanimous vote gives the county manager power to enact a curfew, close roads and other measures if needed.
Around the Tricounty area, measures have been implemented based on restrictions enacted by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham as the state and the nation prepare for increasing numbers of COVID-19 infections.
The Bernalillo County commission authorized broad emergency powers to the county manager in a meeting March 17.
County Commissioner Charlene Pyskoty, whose district includes the East Mountains, said that the ordinance gives the county manager the ability to act, but does not mean that, for example, any roads are closed.
She said the purpose of the meeting was to make a “pre-emptive strike just in case the commission can’t come together.”
She said the idea was to make sure that the county could take emergency action without having “a bureaucratic hiccup.”
Pyskoty called for the emergency meeting March 13 in response to Lujan Grisham’s declaration of a public heath emergency in the state of New Mexico.
The first agenda item of the meeting was a Resolution declaring Bernalillo County as an “emergency area.” The second item was the emergency management powers ordinance.
The county is following the lead of the state. Pyskoty said that the county will inform the public through the media if emergency measures in the ordinance need to be enacted.
Pyskoty added, “It should be seamless to enact. We are really not anticipating anything extreme.”
If deemed necessary, measures allowed by the ordinance include a curfew; road closures; closure of places of mass assembly including theaters, clubs and athletic venues; closure of daycares, private schools and preschools; and requiring private employers to take measures to minimize exposure to employees and customers.
For more information on implementation of any of these emergency measures, visit bernco.gov.
On March 16, an amended public health order from the governor directed all restaurants, bars, breweries, eateries and other food establishments to operate at no greater than 50 percent of capacity.
In addition, tables and booths may not seat more than six people, and all occupied tables and booths must be separated by at least six feet. Patrons may not be seated at bars, and standing patrons will not be served.
The order prohibits gatherings of 100 or more but includes specific exemptions for shelters, retail or grocery stores, courthouses, correction and detention facilities and hospitals, among others.
“The best thing New Mexicans can do right now is self-isolate and limit person-to-person contact,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement to the press. “We all have to pull together in this effort. Keep washing your hands with soap and water regularly. Stay at home. Remember your neighbors and buy only what you need when you are shopping.”
New Mexico health officials strongly advise residents to undertake only those outings that are essential.
Lujan Grisham’s press secretary Nora Meyers said the state is not currently closed to travel: “The state asks anyone traveling into the state from out of state to self-isolate at home for 14 days.”
New Mexicans who detect symptoms of COVID-19 infection, such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath, should call their health care provider or the state COVID-19 hotline at 855-600-3453.
People without those symptoms do not need to be tested for COVID-19.
New Mexicans who have non-health-related questions or concerns can also call 833-551-0518 or visit newmexico.gov, which is being updated and finalized as a one-stop source for information.
The state health department is updating its dedicated COVID-19 webpage, cv.nmhealth.org.
Village clerk Mike Wismer said the village hall is still open and MVD is in operation with reduced hours.
The MVD is open from 8:15 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., and operating on an “as-needed basis.” The village provided surgical gloves for MVD employees, and they are sanitizing the office regularly, as well as promoting separation in the waiting area.
The vital utility service that Tijeras offers is water, Wismer said. “Operators are here and available. We are monitoring water delivery closely and trying not to interrupt the schedule. We will be constantly delivering safe, clean water.”
He said the village also has a backup service to take over water delivery if the two employees who now deliver should become sick. “We will not turn anyone’s water off. Late payments will be waived,” Wismer said. “Citizens waiting to hook up to our water system will be able to request an abbreviated process and [the village] will worry about processing the bills later. We are keeping the water flowing.”
He also said Tijeras is working closely with the City of Albuquerque to do meal deliveries to the elderly.
Wismer said, “The environment we are experiencing is a sense of cooperation to comply with the governor’s direction. People are willing to be self-compliant.” He added, “We are all in it together, and it takes a village.”
Edgewood’s deputy town clerk Carla Salazar said the town’s library is closed and town hall is “running with a skeleton staff.”
The Edgewood Police Department is working at regular capacity, she said, adding that all volunteers are not working.
Salazar said a meeting scheduled for March 19 has been canceled. The town has not yet decided on whether to hold its regularly scheduled planning and zoning and town council meetings next week.
An upcoming free trash dumping day scheduled for March 21 has been postponed.
Mayor Nathan Dial said, “Right now town hall and the DMV are closed until April 6.”
Mama Bears and the Old Mill restaurants are in compliance with the state and functioning at half capacity, Dial said. There are no other immediate changes occurring in Estancia.
“We closed town hall and the MVD to the public,” Mayor Peter Nieto said. “People can make phone payments for utilities and we are waiving penalty fees.”
He said the town was following the governor’s lead in terms of taking precautions. He said the restaurants in Mountainair are running at half capacity and “Mustang Diner is doing curbside pickup and B-Street Market is doing something similar.”
Mayor Bobby Chavez doesn’t believe there is a crisis and has not instated any changes at this time. There are no closures in Willard. Chavez said he was planning to go to a county meeting March 17 to learn more about what is happening in the area.
Chavez said, “We are playing it by ear to see what’s really happening.” He “lots of people” from Mountainair have been coming to to haul water.
Santa Fe County
Santa Fe County will be holding an emergency meeting early next week but they are still working out the logistics to be in compliance with the state’s recommendations, according to spokeswoman Carmelina Hart.
Torrance County manager Wayne Johnson said, “There are no changes and there are still zero positive cases [of COVID-19] in the county.”
He added, “No additional resources are being expended at this time because we don’t want to sap the resources if they are needed in other places.”
The county is holding its regular public meeting March 25 and requests that the public comply with the state’s recommendations if they are feeling sick.
Johnson said, “We are still in the wait and watch phase, but we can call an emergency meeting if it’s needed and we will give 24 hours notice.”
Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at email@example.com.