Friday's coronavirus updates
March 11, 2020
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CCC closing campus through April 5
CLOVIS — Officials with Clovis Community College on Friday announced they will close the campus, including the Health and Fitness Center, to students and the public from Monday through April 5.
Beginning Monday, a college news release said, face-to-face classes will be moved to an online format where possible. Students should contact their instructor as soon as possible for directives regarding instructional requirements. All classes will resume as normal on Monday, April 6.
According to the release:
"All CCC employees will report to work as usual on Monday ... unless otherwise directed by a supervisor. The College will provide guidance related to social distancing and enhanced preventative public health hygiene. Spring Break will continue as planned; the CCC campus will be closed the week of March 23 in observance of spring break.
"All events and gatherings sponsored by the College or those scheduled in College facilities are canceled through April 5."
Officials: Students won't have to make up missed days
SANTA FE — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday said K-12 public schools will be closed through April 3 and closings “ may be extended as conditions warrant.”
Public Education Department officials said students will not be required to make up the missed instructional days.
The action is to “mitigate the risk of community spread of COVID-19,” or coronavirus, the governor said in a news release.
Schools will close after Friday.
“This is a proactive measure. New Mexico has no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our schools, but closing schools proactively has been shown to be one of the most powerful non-pharmaceutical interventions we can deploy,” Lujan Grisham said. “New Mexico is not going to wait as long as some other states to make the hard decisions. We will use every tool in our toolbelt as a state to keep New Mexicans safe, she said.
The news release said public colleges and universities are not included in the closure order. But the governor “strongly urged” regents and governing boards to move or extend spring breaks and shift educational and business services to online models to the greatest extent possible.
The governor also said school buildings will remain open, including cafeterias and school-based health centers. School buildings can be used for temporary child-care operations.
The release said New Mexico has requested and “expects to receive waivers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to allow school meal programs to continue with new flexibility.”
School kitchen staff are scheduled to work, “preparing shelf-stable meals for grab-and-go pickup at school cafeterias and other sites for the many New Mexico families that depend on school meals,” the release said.
School buildings also could be used for temporary child care facilities to meet additional demand during the closing.
We will have specifics about how area schools are handling the closings in Sunday’s edition of The Eastern New Mexico News.
Girl Scouts to suspend cookie booth sales
Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails announced Friday that cookie sales in public places will be suspended, effective Monday.
A Girl Scouts news release stated: "Girl Scout cookie booths scheduled for this weekend will remain in place at the discretion of the troop leaders and at the comfort level of parents. However, any cookie booths scheduled beyond this weekend will be suspended for the foreseeable future."
“Girl Scouts across New Mexico rely on cookie sales to fund their activities for the year,” said Girls Scouts of New Mexico Trails CEO, Rebecca Latham. “But we must do our part to prioritize the health and safety of our members, volunteers and the general public.”
Personal and online sales will continue through mid-April via individual Girl Scouts, the release said.
Wayland classes moving online
Wayland Baptist University will transition to an online delivery format for all classes at all campuses until April 6. That includes the Clovis campus. A university news release said WBU will continue to monitor the coronavirus situation and adjust the schedule if conditions dictate.
Health Council meeting canceled
The Curry County Health Council meeting scheduled for March 19 has been canceled due to the COVID-19 closures, according to a news release from Health Council Coordinator Nikki Lovett.
Portales Chamber announces status of events
The Portales Chamber of Commerce on Friday issued the following list of calendar items and their status:
• Portales Public School Board Meeting (to discuss school closure), Monday, 9 a.m.
Events cancelled or postponed
• All Public Schools Statewide until April 6
• ENMU Students are on Extended Spring Break until March 23
• Governor has ordered all public gatherings over 100 attendance cancelled with exceptions for churches, funerals, weddings.
• City Sports Rec Leagues Practices and Games Postponed until at least April 6
• CAFB Large Events, Tours and other Canceled until May 15
• Free tax preparation Feb. 4 through April 9 canceled
• ENMU College of Business canceled
• Free Family Law Clinic scheduled Wednesday, canceled
Events postponed but possibly will be rescheduled
• Hemp Tour at Roosevelt County Extension on Thursday
• Floyd Jamboree postponed until further notice.
• Eastern in Action Jobsite Project 2020 on March 28 canceled
• Wild Hearts Prom on March 21 rescheduled to June 27
• Clovis gun show this weekend postponed, rescheduled for June 6-7
• Reality Check Day April 1, canceled
• United Way Banquet April 7, postponed until further notice.
State: Four more tested 'presumptive positive'
SANTA FE — Health officials on Friday said four more New Mexico residents have tested presumptive positive for COVID-19, adding to the six presumptive positive tests earlier this week.
According to a state Department of Health news release, the most recent cases are:
• A Bernalillo County man in his mid-50s with close household contact with a previous presumptive positive resident. He is at home in isolation.
• A Bernalillo County man in his 80s with close household contact with a previous presumptive positive resident. He is hospitalized.
• A Bernalillo County woman in her mid-70s with close household contact with a previous presumptive positive resident. She is at home in isolation.
• A Santa Fe County woman in her late 20s with recent travel to New York. She is at home in isolation.
The other six presumptive positive tests in New Mexico, according to the release, are:
• A Santa Fe County woman in her 50s with recent international travel to Italy.
• A Socorro County husband and wife both in their 60s with known recent international travel to Egypt.
• A woman in her 70s in Bernalillo County with known recent travel to the New York City area.
• A Santa Fe County woman in her 60s with known recent travel to the New York City area.
• A Bernalillo County woman in her 40s. The Department of Health is investigating a possible travel link.
Officials are asking New Mexicans to:
• Remain home from work or school if you are sick
• Avoid all non-essential travel to affected out-of-state areas; and exercise extreme caution with all out-of-state travel
• Remain home (“self-isolate”) if you are sick and call the Department of Health at 1-855-600-3453 if you are exhibiting any of the symptoms of COVID-19. Those symptoms include fever, cough or trouble breathing
NM Gas ask customers to pay online, mail or phone
New Mexico Gas Company is encouraging customers to pay their bills by postal mail, online or by calling the customer contact center, according to an NM Gas news release.
“We care about the health and safety of our customers and our employees,” NMGC President Ryan Shell said. “This request is a precaution aligned with expert guidance to limit person-to-person contact and to avoid crowding.”
NMGC operates 22 customer walk-in offices across New Mexico. Although customers are encouraged to limit their visits, each office remains open for anyone who needs in-person assistance with a billing or service matter.
Customers can sign up for electronic billing on the New Mexico Gas Company website, http://www.nmgco.com or call 1-888-664-2726 to speak with a customer service representative about any issue related to their natural gas service.
Courts plan to stay open
SANTA FE – New Mexico state courts will remain open for business and "take every precaution to protect the community and minimize public health risks from the coronavirus," Supreme Court Chief Justice Judith K. Nakamura said Friday.
“Even during this health emergency our state court system must continue to provide essential justice services to the public guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States and New Mexico.”
The court news release also said:
People are strongly encouraged not to visit courthouses if they recently:
· Showed any signs of respiratory infection, fever or cough.
· Have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.
· Traveled to high-risk countries with widespread transmission of COVID-19.
· Visited another state experiencing widespread community transmission of COVID-19.
Jurors should contact their local court before reporting for jury duty if they have traveled to areas with a concentration of confirmed coronavirus cases, the release said.
Insurance superintendent: Free testing, treatment
SANTA FE — New Mexico’s Superintendent of Insurance Russell Toal has issued an emergency rule prohibiting health insurers from imposing cost sharing, including copays, coinsurance and deductibles, for testing and health care services related to COVID-19.
The rule also covers pneumonia, influenza, or any disease or condition that is the subject of a public health emergency.
“Gov. Lujan Grisham has made clear that New Mexico will take aggressive, proactive steps to contain and prevent the spread of COVID-19. A key part of that strategy is ensuring access to free, high-quality care, including testing and treatment,” Toal said in a news release. “We thank New Mexico insurers for cooperating with OSI in the formulation of this rule.”
Also from the news release:
Additionally, Toal issued two orders related to oversight of insurers during a public health emergency.
The first order requires insurers providing major medical coverage and insurers providing limited benefits coverage to notify their members whether and to what extent their policies cover testing and health care services related to COVID-19. Additionally, if an insurer only offers limited coverage, they must notify their members of available full coverage options.
The second order requires limited benefit plans (such as workers compensation and automobile medical payment insurance) to provide notice to their members that their plans do not provide comprehensive medical coverage and to give members information on where they should go to check on their eligibility to apply for and obtain such coverage.
The superintendent does not have jurisdiction over large employers who “self-insure,” including the State of New Mexico through its state employee health plan. These employers decide which benefits to offer their members and how much members must pay out of their own pockets when they obtain medical care.
If consumers believe they have been unfairly billed for testing or treatment of COVID-19, they can call OSI Managed Health Care Bureau at 1-855-427-5674.