Corona Virus Update: NM Cases Increase; Hospital Bed Shortage; City Provides Services; City To Get U.S. Army Field Hospital; Public Schools Closed For Year

As of Monday March 30, the coronavirus death toll in New Mexico is now at 4. According to state health officials, 2 women, one in her 70s and one in her 90s, died on Monday both with underlying medical conditions. New Mexico officials added 44 new positive cases resulting in a total of 281 with 26 people having recovered from the virus and 24 are currently hospitalized for the virus.

The latest positive tests include 16 new cases in Bernalillo County, bringing its total to 117. Five new cases each in Sandoval and San Juan Counties in each county, 3 each in Santa Fe, Torrance, Valencia and McKinley counties, 2 in Chaves County and 1 each in Dona Ana, Rio Arriba, Socorro and Taos counties.


Governor Lujan Grisham made it clear in her news conference last week that the state may hit a peak in new cases in mid-April. The problem is New Mexico has fewer hospital beds per capita than the national average, with 1.8 hospital beds per 1,000 people. For most people who come down with the virus they exhibit symptoms that include a fever and respiratory problems and they recover within two to three weeks. It is the most vulnerable, ages 60 year and up and who have preexisting conditions that are likely be hospitalized with life threatening symptoms.

Last week Governor Lujan Grisham had asked the federal Department of Defense for a 248-bed U.S. Army field hospital in Albuquerque to absorb the anticipated surge cases. On March 30, President Donald Trump told Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in a conference call with Governors that he will grant her request for the U.S. Army field hospital and instructed his staff to look into it.

On March 30, a Bernalillo County spokeswoman announced that a 39-year-old man in the custody of the Metropolitan Detention Center tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend, causing several other inmates and staff members to be quarantined.


The Keller Administration announced that people who have medical needs that have been made worse by the corona virus will be able to get help at one of four Health and Social Services Centers in Albuquerque. According to Deputy Director of Public Health Gilbert Ramirez, each quadrant of the city has a center, and each has been designated a “mission critical” facility.

The services and items provided by the centers include monthly food boxes, limited supplies of diapers and hygiene products, and clothing. The centers also have an eviction prevention program funded by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. Tenants facing eviction must have identification and a lease or payment history that reflects delinquency and how much is owed. The problem is the federal program has just under $47,000 available. The city is asking for donations for its motel voucher program for homeless people, particularly for those who have chronic medical problems and reduced immune systems.

Donations can be made to the centers to provide eviction protection for those people who do not qualify for the federally funded program. On Wednesday, there was only about $10,000 available for that program. People who donate can designate where they want the money to go such as eviction protection, diapers, food or other items.

People needing the services of a Health and Social Services Center should go to the one in their quadrant of the city.

Following is a listing of the centers:

John Marshall, 1500 Walter SE, 848-1345;
Alamosa, 6900 Gonzales SW, 836-8800;
Los Griegos, 1231 Candelaria NW, 761-4050; and
East Central, 7525 Zuni SE, 767-5700.
said Lisa Huval, deputy director for housing and homelessness.


Two community centers have been designated to provide emergency shelter for those who do not have the virus but are in the higher-risk older-age demographic. Individuals placed at the 2 centers must be referred from the West Side Emergency Housing Center. The 2 centers are:

The Thomas Bell Community Center, 3001 University SE
The Jack Candelaria Community Center, 400 San Jose SE


On March 30, the Keller Administration made the following announcements regarding city services:

Citywide: All City buildings are closed to the public, as of 5 p.m., March 24. This includes City Hall. Signs will be posted instructing people how they can access the County Clerk’s office.
City Clerk: All hearings are either postponed or will be held remotely.

Planning Department:

• Plaza del Sol will be closed to the public.
• Permitting will continue via telephone, while inspections and field work will continue as normal.
• A drop box will be set up for applicants to drop any paperwork. Staff will pick up and review submissions and then set a time for applicants to pick up any permits.

Albuquerque-Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority: All walk-in payment locations are temporarily closed. Payments may be mailed or made online.

Parks & Recreation and Citywide Youth Programs:

• All Spring Break youth programs are canceled.
• City golf courses are closed
• All playgrounds in City parks are closed, although the parks themselves will remain open.
• Maloof Air Park is closed.
• Horsemen’s Complex is closed; however, owners must continue to care for their animals.


On Friday, March 27, Public Education Secretary Ryan Stewart announced that the statewide school closure will be extended for the rest of the academic year because of the corona virus pandemic. Public preschools and K-12 schools across the state have been ordered to shut down effective March 16 to help stop the spread of the virus. Students were initially scheduled to go back to school April 6, but given the worsening spread of the virus, that is no longer feasible.

Students with special needs will receive all feasible supports and accommodations that can be delivered while maintaining safe social-distancing.

Individual school districts will design measures by which seniors can demonstrate eligibility for graduation. Those measures could include testing, completing a series of assignments, achieving a set score on a college entrance exam or demonstrating applied work experience. High school seniors will have until June 19 to demonstrate eligibility, and those who fail to do so will be offered credit recovery in the summer. They can also appeal to their local school board or to the secretary. No student will be denied graduation for lack of access to demonstrate competency.

Every New Mexico school district has a plan to continue providing childhood nutrition during this period. You can see those plans here. The Public Education Department is also seeking permission to distribute Electronic Benefits Transfer cards that would allow qualifying families to purchase meals with their free breakfast/lunch allotment.


Older adults and those with chronic illnesses are most at risk to contract the virus that could result in death from complications. Even healthy young people not worried about getting sick should take steps to protect themselves and others in that they could still carry the virus but not show signs of it. The strategy must be to limit the chance of transmitting the disease to persons who are more vulnerable.
Government officials urged people to protect themselves by:

Self-quarantine until the end of April

Honoring the “quarantine” and staying home and avoid large crowds and public events

Washing your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds

Cleaning “high-touch” surfaces daily with regular household cleaners

When coughing, use a tissue or cough into the forearm of your elbow

Avoiding the sharing of personal household items

Stay at home when sick

Practice “social distancing” when talking to others in person by standing 6 feet away from them

Wear face masks if available that seals around mouth and nose when out in public

Limit activities to grocery shopping, filling your car with gasoline and medical appointment

For a related blog article see:

Updated New Mexico COVID-19 Cases Now at 191; A Breakdown Per County

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Pete Dinelli was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is of Italian and Hispanic descent. He is a 1970 graduate of Del Norte High School, a 1974 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a 1977 graduate of St. Mary's School of Law, San Antonio, Texas. Pete has a 40 year history of community involvement and service as an elected and appointed official and as a practicing attorney in Albuquerque. Pete and his wife Betty Case Dinelli have been married since 1984 and they have two adult sons, Mark, who is an attorney and George, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Pete has been a licensed New Mexico attorney since 1978. Pete has over 27 years of municipal and state government service. Pete’s service to Albuquerque has been extensive. He has been an elected Albuquerque City Councilor, serving as Vice President. He has served as a Worker’s Compensation Judge with Statewide jurisdiction. Pete has been a prosecutor for 15 years and has served as a Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney, as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney and as a Deputy City Attorney. For eight years, Pete was employed with the City of Albuquerque both as a Deputy City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer overseeing the city departments of police, fire, 911 emergency call center and the emergency operations center. While with the City of Albuquerque Legal Department, Pete served as Director of the Safe City Strike Force and Interim Director of the 911 Emergency Operations Center. Pete’s community involvement includes being a past President of the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club, past President of the Our Lady of Fatima School Board, and Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.