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Schools and businesses across the US have closed for deep cleanings. This is to mitigate the possible spread of COVID-19, commonly known as the coronavirus. The CDC suggests you clean and disinfect all "high-touch areas", from doorknobs to smartphones. Business Insider says to use a combination of household cleaners and disinfectants. Wear gloves and throw them out after you clean, every time you disinfect. And of course, wash your hands thoroughly and avoid close contact with people who have the disease. Wochit

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The novel coronavirus, COVID-19, is upending all of our lives. It's affecting our work and our play. News changes by the hour and it's hard to get a handle on it. In this space, we'll be posting the latest information about coronavirus and how it's affecting life in Las Cruces and southern New Mexico.

Here is a list of cancellations.

Here is a list of restaurants offering curbside and/or delivery.

Here is a list of resources if you're been laid off or your hours have been cut.

Here are some ideas to fight boredom while self-distancing. And here are reporter Jackie Devine's Top 5 shows to binge watch on Netflix.

You might also find the coronavirus information you're looking for at the CDC website or the New Mexico Department of Health website

Thursday, April 2

5:17 PM: New Mexico plans for surge in COVID-19 patients and supply shortages

As nationwide demand for health protection equipment surges, New Mexico's health care system has a limited statewide stock of about 44,000 snug-fitting N95 face masks that protect medical workers from the coronavirus by filtering out small airborne particles, state officials said.

New Mexico also has about 2.4 million exam gloves, 70,500 medical gowns and 234,000 surgical masks that offer less protection from virus infection than N95 masks.

4:50 PM: New Mexico now at 403 cases and 7 deaths

The state Department of Health announced Thursday that 40 additional tests for the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 disease had been confirmed positive, and that a Bernalillo County woman was the state's seventh casualty related to the disease.

The 40 additional positive tests include a new case — but no deaths, yet — in Doña Ana County, which stands at 21 cases. It also reported that 31 COVID-19 cases were designated as having "recovered."

3:43 PM: Lujan Grisham says 'face masks and coverings' are encouraged; Stay-at-home order likely to be extended 

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Thursday afternoon participated in a nationwide #AskTheGov Twitter Q&A. During the online event, Lujan Grisham indicated that the state's "stay-at-home" order is likely to be extended. 

"The horrible reality is that this pandemic is going to get worse before it gets better," Lujan Grisham tweeted.

The governor also signaled the administration may be shifting toward advising the use of masks and face coverings when out in public.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, the U.S. government has said masks were not needed for the general public. But in an interview Wednesday on "Good Morning America," Surgeon General Jerome Adams said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was asked to review its guidance on wearing masks. 

The CDC is still advising against the use of medical-grade (N95) masks — which are in short supply — by the general public.

"Even if you do wear a mask, it can't be at the expense of social distancing," Adams said Wednesday, noting a mask such as an N95 would not be necessary because it could come at the expense of health care workers who needed one. 

3:22 PM: Mesilla Valley Hospital provides COVID-19 update

Anna Laliotis, CEO of Mesilla Valley Hospital, on Thursday provided an update on how the COVID-19 coronavirus was impacting hospital operations. Laliotis stated that the hospital is making every effort "to avoid inciting unnecessary panic or anxiety among our clients and families, and we are taking every measure to protect them – along with our employees – during this dynamic situation." Hospital administrators are closely monitoring information provided by key government, regulatory and local entities.

MVH urges its community to follow the guidance: If individuals develop a fever or cough or have difficulty breathing, or have had close contact with someone who has had a confirmed positive COVID-19 test result, please seek medical attention by calling your provider’s office. For information regarding COVID-19, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

In the interest of protecting the health and safety of the hospital's patients, staff and community, the following actions have been implemented at MVH.

Services and Programs

  • The facility remains fully operational and serving the needs of its community. It is taking proactive steps to keep patients and team members safe, including screening all individuals upon entering the facility.
  • For those in need of non-emergency behavioral healthcare, contact MVH rather than the local Emergency Department.
  • MVH is actively monitoring and responding to all recommendations made by the CDC and local regulatory and health authorities.
  • In an effort to reduce the likelihood of community spread, all in-person visitation has been suspended (with limited, critical exceptions). MVH strongly encourages the use of electronic methods to stay connected with loved ones — including telemedicine, Zoom and extended phone time.
  • MVH has implemented additional training for all employees on handwashing and hand sanitization, and strict employee and client compliance with washing/sanitizing hands thoroughly and often.
  • The hospital has increased the frequency of the required cleaning and sanitization of its facility, including intake rooms, surfaces and common areas.
  • The facility’s community education programs may be canceled/postponed; it asks the community to follow Mesilla Valley Hospital on Facebook for updates.

"We thank our community for everyone’s cooperation and for being an advocate for the health of your loved ones and all patients in our care," Laliotis stated in the written release.

2:55 PM: Class of 2020 senior photos

The Class of 2020 is missing out some important milestones, including prom and graduation ceremonies in May. However, local districts are working on a plan for a commencement after the COVID-19 crisis subsides.

We're asking the Class of 2020 to send us their senior photos and we'll add them to the extensive gallery above. Send your photo and information to jdevine@lcsun-news.com.

VIEW GALLERY: Class of 2020 senior photos

1:58 PM: Las Cruces City Council to weigh approving $1 million for community relief programs

The Las Cruces City Council will hold a special meeting Friday morning, during which it could act on a number of economic relief measures in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The meeting will be streamed live on YouTube, at lascruces.civicweb.net and on television on CLC-TV Channel 20. It starts at 9:30 a.m. Friday morning.

1:25 PM: New coronavirus safety precautions for Walmart employees include temperature checks

Walmart announced new safety precautions for employees including temperature checks, masks, gloves and a "6-20-100 Guidance."

The new safety precautions were announced on March 31 as a way to “continue to deal with the spread of COVID-19.”

12:28 PM: Taxpayers warned about increase in scam activity

Taxpayers and tax practitioners should be especially alert to phishing and other scam activity related to tax extensions and federal stimulus payments, the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department announced Thursday.

The deadline for filing New Mexico and federal income taxes has been extended to July 15 in recognition of the financial difficulties many people face because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The federal government has also announced it will be making direct payments to taxpayers as part of its relief efforts.

Criminals target taxpayers as well as tax preparers because of the opportunity that presents to steal information on multiple taxpayers all at once, the department stated.

Potential targets may receive phone calls or emails with messaging such as “in order to receive your/your client’s stimulus payment via direct deposit, we need you to confirm the banking information,” according to the Federation of Tax Administrators.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, most people will not need to take any action to receive their stimulus payments, as the payments will be distributed automatically. The IRS will not call, text or email people to verify their banking information for stimulus payments.

Taxpayers and preparers should always beware of phishing scams by email and unsolicited phone calls seeking social security numbers or credit card and banking information

Anyone unsure about an inquiry from the New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department may call 1-866-285-2996 and ask for confirmation on the status of their return. Taxpayers can also use the Taxpayer Access Point system at tax.newmexico.gov to check on the status of their returns and review other information about their accounts. More information also is available at irs.gov.

12:10 PM: Doña Ana County leaders release COVID-19 public service announcement

Leaders and representatives from the City of Las Cruces, Doña Ana County, Las Cruces Public Schools and the New Mexico Department of Health on Wednesday released a public service announcement, detailing some of the ways residents can stay healthy and mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The PSA features Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima, Doña Ana County Manager Fernando Macias, LCPS Superintendent Karen Trujillo and NMDOH Spokesman David Morgan. The video was produced by the COVID-19 Joint Information Center, in partnership with the City of Las Cruces.

11:33 AM: Second half property tax notices unaffected by COVID-19

Doña Ana County Treasurer Eric Rodriguez announced that the second half property tax deadline of Monday, May 11, is not affected by COVID-19.

“We made every effort to get relief for taxpayers, but ultimately that was not within our legal authority,” Rodriguez said.

The New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department decided against extending the payment deadline on a call with several counties Wednesday, April 1, citing that it would hurt cash flows for local taxing entities such as school districts and municipalities, county officials stated in a Thursday news release.

“We want to avoid burdening taxpayers who are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Rodriguez said. “That is why we will continue to work with the state and our legislators for subsequent relief options.”

To avoid penalty and interest accruals, property second half taxes are due Monday, May 11. Since in-person payment services are closed, the Treasurer’s Office encourages taxpayers to use one of the following payment options:

  • By phone: 575-647-7433, Toll Free 1-877-827-7200 ext. 7433
  • Online: www.donaanacounty.org/treasurer/payments
  • By mail: P.O. Box 1179 Las Cruces, NM  88004
  • 24-Hour dropbox: Located in front of the County Government Center
  • Bill pay: This is a service provided by most banks

For questions or service requests, contact the Treasurer’s Office:

  • Phone: 575-647-7433, Toll Free 1-877-827-7200 ext. 7433
  • Email: taxbill@donaanacounty.org
  • Mail: 845 N Motel Blvd. Las Cruces, NM  88007

For information on the Treasurer’s COVID-19 response plan, visit www.donaanacounty.org/treasurer.

Wednesday, April 1

8:47 PM: Doña Ana County Detention Center reports no COVID-19 cases, initiates detainee quarantine

County officials stated that all new detainees will be held in a quarantined area of the center for 14 days, to mitigate the potential spread of the novel coronavirus within the facility. Here's the latest.

6:29 PM: Want to go hiking? Here are some trails near Las Cruces that are still open

Developed recreation spots Dripping Springs, Soledad Canyon and Aguirre Spring are closed until further notice. But residents may continue to enjoy BLM trails and open space areas. Here are three nearby hiking trails to try

4:33 PM: New Mexico cases now at 363, one additional death

State health officials said the number of positive coronavirus, or COVID-19, cases in New Mexico had jumped by 48 to bring the state total up to 363. The state also reported one more death due to the virus, a woman in her 90s who lived in Sandoval County. 

3:44 PM: District court won't impanel grand juries amid COVID-19 pandemic

The order directs charging documents must now be filed under an alternate method of prosecution, such as a preliminary examination through the magistrate court. 

3:07 PM: COVID-19 redefining the recruiting game for both coaches and prospects

Here's how college coaches and the prospects they are recruiting are adapting in the age of physical distancing.

3:05 PM: Las Cruces school district working on plan for bus drivers to deliver some meals

STS of New Mexico, the contractor providing bus transportation for the Las Cruces Public Schools said drivers will begin delivering meals to some district children next week.

The head of the bus drivers' union, however, says employees have not been told about those plans, and they have a number of concerns related to potential exposure to the COVID-19 coronavirus. 

2:48 PM: Website encourages New Mexico residents to 'Buy for Tomorrow Today'

The New Mexico Economic Development Department has launched a website that pairs shoppers with products and services in a “Buy for Tomorrow Today” campaign to help sustain businesses through the COVID-19 health emergency.

The “Buy for Tomorrow Today” website (www.BuyNMLocal.com) is another way for people to support New Mexico businesses during the emergency closures. The site offers direct access to individual websites where purchases can be finalized for products or services now, by delivery or take-out, or when the business reopens.

“We know New Mexicans have loyalty to local businesses and those businesses need our support now more than ever. We hope this website becomes one of many tools that can help businesses through this crisis,” Economic Development Secretary Alicia J. Keyes said.

The website includes a registration link for businesses who want to participate. Shoppers can sort retailers by region to find a store near them. The state of New Mexico is not a party to the transactions.

Some of the participating businesses include Iconik Coffee (Santa Fe); TJ’s Diner (Farmington); Gila Bike and Hike and Bluebird Running Co. (Las Cruces).

Many businesses on the site are also offering discounts or additional value-added services with a purchase on the Buy Tomorrow website. New businesses are being added to the site daily, so check back often to find your favorite local retailer.

Business can enroll by going to the site an clicking on the upper tab, "Register Your Business."

New Mexico MainStreet is also offering a free webinar (registration required) at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday April 2 for businesses to learn about PayPal setup and other e-commerce resources. This webinar aims to help businesses in NM by promoting e-commerce on the Buy for Tomorrow Today website. Learn more.

2:09 PM: Why is some COVID-19 data not being released in New Mexico?

How many people are recovering from COVID-19 in your area? What is known about how they were exposed? How many people have been tested for it in your county? 

All are questions of interest to the public, but public interest sometimes must give way to legally protected privacy for individuals' medical information.

10:39 AM: New Mexico relaxes COVID-19 testing guidelines

“If we can keep more asymptomatic COVID-19 positive patients at home and not out in public, the more effective we will be at flattening the curve,"  said New Mexico Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel. Here are the new guidelines for getting tested.

7 AM: Film Las Cruces launches movie contest for residents at home

Film Las Cruces is launching the “At Home! Movie Contest” to help residents have some fun and create some entertaining and educational videos for the city and state. The contest will start on April 1 and run through April 20.

Tuesday, March 31

7 PM: Las Cruces City Council discusses economic relief measures.

See what's being proposed. The council is set to potentially take action on economic relief measures again at a special meeting Friday, April 3.

4:58 PM: New Mexico marks 5th death to COVID-19; total cases is now 315

At a news conference Tuesday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and other state officials announced new statewide numbers related to COVID-19, plus a host of other information, including:

  • Criteria for testing for the virus has expanded beyond people showing symptoms of the disease. 
  • Testing is coming to more sites in Doña Ana County including Sunland Park, Santa Teresa, La Union, Anthony and Chaparral
  • President Donald Trump had approved a U.S. Army field hospital for New Mexico, though it was not yet clear how many beds, and how many intensive care beds in particular, it would offer. 
  • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working the state on how to expand hospital capacity in different parts of the state, with Las Cruces on a list of locations of interest. 
  • New Mexico's "doubling rate," as measured in the number of days it takes for confirmed cases of COVID-19 to double in number, has, happily, receded from two to three days and is continuing to slow down even as testing increases. 
  • Under current modeling, New Mexico is expecting a peak in cases early in May, including a strain on hospital beds that the state is racing to meet. 
  • Efforts are underway, involving private sector partnerships with government, to produce more ventilators and needed medical supplies.
  • The governor said New Mexicans could anticipate the current public health orders to be expanded through April, and perhaps even into the middle of May, but did not announce tougher restrictions Tuesday. 

“Social distancing is the most meaningful tool we have," Lujan Grisham said. "The less transmission, the more lives we’ll save. The less transmission, the fewer people that will go to the hospital. The less transmission, the more control we have over hospitalization and surges.”

4:21 PM: LCPS launches K-12 enrichment channel on YouTube

The online portal is a work in progress, and one of many options students have to stay engaged until the end of the school year. To view activities on the LCPS YouTube channel, search LCPS Enrichment on YouTube. Find your grade level from schedules on the information and instructions. Follow the school videos for some fun and engaging activities. 

3:02 PM: SCSWA further restricts public access to waste/recycling facilities

In order to comply with the state's public health order, the general public will see restricted hours and closures at solid waste/recycling facilities during the COVID-19 outbreak in Las Cruces and Doña Ana County.

Until further notice, only essential businesses are allowed to dispose of trash at the

  • Amador Avenue Transfer Station, 2865 Amador Ave., Las Cruces
  • Chaparral Collection and Recycling Center, 180 McCombs Road, Chaparral

A list of businesses deemed essential can be found at https://cv.nmhealth.org/stay-at-home-essential-businesses/.

Businesses wanting to dispose of trash at the above locations must provide a letter documenting that they are an essential business – with the name of business, the type of business, name of employee and contact information (address and phone numbers) for the business and the employee.

Adhering to the guidelines set forth by the Governor’s Office, some collection sites are currently closed to the public, including both recycling centers:

  • Las Cruces Recycling Center Dropoff, 2855 Amador Ave.
  • Sonoma Ranch Recycling Drop Off Center, 555 S. Sonoma Ranch Blvd.

Please find information at the state’s COVID-19 website at https://cv.nmhealth.org/. The South Central Solid Waste Authority can be reached at 575-528-3800 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

2:50 PM: NMDOT uses message boards to discourage shopping in groups

The New Mexico Department of Transportation is advising people to shop alone to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“This is not a time for a social outing. Leave family members at home where they are safe,” said Transportation Secretary Mike Sandoval in a Tuesday release. “Please shop alone. Every time you leave your house you put your family and community at risk.”

The department also advises New Mexicans to follow COVID-19 precautions while shopping.

  • Practice social distancing. Stay at least 6 feet away from those around you.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with your elbow or tissue. 
  • If possible, wipe down your shopping cart and wash your hands for at least 20 seconds before and after unloading your groceries.

You can learn more about the state's public health order and find other information related to COVID-19 at NewMexico.gov

The NMDOT is using electronic message boards to remind communities to follow COVID-19 precautions.

1:09 PM: NMSU offers online series on financially navigating the COVID-19 outbreak

New Mexico State University Quay County Cooperative Extension Service will host a free virtual workshop series, “Financially Navigating the COVID-19 Outbreak” each Thursday in April. The workshop will be available via Zoom, at https://nmsu.zoom.us/j/335743117.

11:48 AM: New Mexico BLM closes developed recreation spots

Three popular outdoor spots near Las Cruces have been closed due to coronavirus — Dripping Springs, Soledad Canyon and Aguirre Springs. Other sites remain open.

10:12 AM: Heartbroken high school seniors talk about losing last months of school

High school seniors throughout New Mexico are lamenting over their last year being thrown into turmoil to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. That means no prom and likely no commencement ceremony before summer. For the Class of 2020, these rites of passage are being pushed aside to preserve public health.

Monday, March 30

11:09 PM: Authorities encouraged not to issue citations for expired vehicle registrations, licenses

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued an order Monday waiving most late fees and other penalties assessed by the Motor Vehicle Division since March 11, when she first issued a state of emergency for New Mexico due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

5:56 PM Las Cruces woman shares cupboard with community amid COVID-19 pandemic

 Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a Las Cruces resident has built a community cupboard at the edge of her yard as a way to help out her neighbors in need. Inside the wooden cupboard Monday was bottled water, diapers, toilet paper, a book and some canned goods. Anyone can take and/or leave an item in the cupboard.

5 PM: NCAA grants spring-sport athletes extra year of eligibility

The NCAA Division I Council granted spring-sport athletes an extra year of eligibility on Monday to make up for the cancellation of their respective seasons. At NMSU, the ruling affects baseball, softball, golf, tennis and outdoor track

4:45 PM: New Mexico reports 44 new positive cases, 2 more deaths

The state Department of Health announced 44 new positive tests for the COVID-19 coronavirus Monday, bringing the state's total to 281. Two female COVID-19 patients in Bernalillo County were reported to have died on March 30, bringing the state's number of deaths from two to four. 

4:08 PM: El Paso Electric donates $30,000 for COVID-19 response, relief

El Paso Electric has announced a $30,000 donation to the COVID-19 response funds created by the El Paso Community Foundation, the Paso Del Norte Community Foundation, and the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico. Each foundation will receive $10,000.

“While COVID-19 continues to alter our daily lives, our dedicated and hardworking employees remain committed to providing safe and reliable energy as our region comes together to mitigate the impacts of this virus,” shares EPE Interim CEO Adrian J. Rodriguez. “As the provider of electricity for West Texas and southern New Mexico that powers hospitals and health care facilities, government entities, emergency response centers and hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses, we fully recognize the philanthropic role in supporting crisis response efforts for the communities we serve.”

In response to the growing financial need throughout southern New Mexico, the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico and United Way of Southwest New Mexico have initiated an inaugural joint fund that will support nonprofit organizations within this region.

“Our community — locally and abroad — is facing a level of adversity that is nearly unmeasured by any previous world-wide event, which is why our response as a people needs to be united and powerful,” shares Amanda Morales, executive director for United Way of Southwest New Mexico.

“For the first time in each of our organizations’ history, we have partnered to create the ‘not-for-profit emergency fund’ to amplify our support across southern New Mexico,” said Terra V. Winter, president and CEO for the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico. “El Paso Electric’s donation to the fund provides the philanthropic leadership our community needs to help overcome this adversity.”

EPE will also be matching 50% of all monetary contributions made by the utility’s employees to the community foundation of their choice.

4 PM: Taxation and Revenue modifies compliance enforcement efforts

In recognition of the financial difficulties facing many New Mexico residents and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Taxation and Revenue Department is temporarily modifying some of its enforcement activities.

The department already has extended personal and corporate income tax deadlines and payroll tax payments.

“We understand that businesses and individuals are facing unprecedented uncertainty and financial disruption during this emergency.  The Taxation and Revenue Department is committed to helping taxpayers get through this difficult time,” said Department Secretary Stephanie Schardin Clarke.

Among the steps being taken by the Department are:

  • The most severe collection activities, including new liens, seizures and injunctions, will cease for 90 days.
  • A program that automatically garnishes state tax refunds for payment of federal tax debts is suspended.
  • Additional resources are being devoted to quickly clear identity verification questions on income tax refunds to ensure they are legitimate.
  • Staff is prioritizing review and approval of refund requests, business credits and abatements of taxes due.
  • Potentially noncompliant taxpayers will be offered managed audits, a voluntary program that can result in a waiver of penalty and interest for 180 days.
  • Additional staff will be assigned to help resolve tax protests.
  • Taxpayers on payment plans will be offered deadline extensions of up to 60 days, and taxpayers will be encouraged to make good faith payments to prevent defaults.
  • Taxpayers undergoing audits will be offered the opportunity to request a 60-day suspension or a waiver giving them more time to produce records.

11:11 AM: Governor issues new rules for automobile sales

On Monday, Gov.Michelle Lujan Grisham authorized automobile sales by small dealers on an appointment basis utilizing strict social distancing practices during the COVID-19 stay at home order. Additionally, online/Internet sales by all licensed New Mexico motor vehicle dealers are also allowed.

The new rules are:

  • The customer and licensed automobile dealer must communicate about the vehicle over Internet, phone or text;
  • No more than one appointment at the dealership at a time, with no more than two clients at each appointment;
  • All parties must follow strict 10-foot social distancing;
  • At the agreed time the dealer alone will greet clients. Clients may not enter the dealership alone or come into contact with any other dealership employees;
  • Vehicles must be thoroughly disinfected before and after any test drive;
  • Each appointment allows for test drives of two vehicles;
  • All paperwork including closing will take place outside, with clients either in vehicle or outside

9:22 AM: How to apply for a COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, small business owners in all U.S. states and territories are eligible to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000. Apply at https://covid19relief.sba.gov/

The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million. Funds will be made available within three days of a successful application, and this loan advance will not have to be repaid.

8:28 AM: 'Operation Maskup' sets up shop in historic Doña Ana County Courthouse

A local group intent on making face masks for health care professionals and the community has set up shop in the historic Doña Ana County Courthouse.

Saturday was the first full production day in the courthouse with a goal to make 600 reusable masks by the end of the day.

6 AM: Game II giving away free box of potatoes Tuesday in Las Cruces

Residents are invited to the Game II on Tuesday to pick up a free box of potatoes. The giveaway begins at 10:30 a.m., but vehicles can start lining up as early as 7 a.m. Each carload will get about 8 to 10 pounds of potatoes. 

Sunday, March 29

2:57 PM: New Mexico COVID-19 positive tests increase to 237

New Mexico state health officials on Sunday announced 29 additional positive tests for COVID-19, though no new cases in Doña Ana County.

11:37 AM: This is what local columnists have to say

  • In his weekly Desert Sage column, Algernon D'Ammassa explores how physical distancing may be leading to new ideas about the American labor force. "What becomes possible if this time of physical distancing becomes a time of political imagination and organization?" he asks.
  • Speaking of economics, Paul J. Gessing notes tough times are ahead for New Mexico. The 1-2 punch of the novel coronavirus and dropping oil prices have left the state with lots of financial obligations and a dwindling source of income. "Hopefully this crisis finally spurs long-overdue efforts to diversify New Mexico’s economy," he writes.
  • Pamela Angell, the CEO of Amador Health Center, reminds residents that their actions give us a fighting chance against COVID-19. She observes: "Support the businesses that are open, reach out to those who are isolated, and remember to take care of yourself. Do more of the things that benefit you, and less of the things that don’t."
  • What's next in this new corona-reality? "I don't know," notes Peter Goodman. And that's a phrase that's OK in these uncertain times.

Saturday, March 28

4:03 PM: New Mexico now at 208 coronavirus cases, with one new death reported

New Mexico state health officials announced 17 additional positive tests for COVID-19, bringing the statewide total cases to 208. Officials also announced the second death due to the novel coronavirus.

2:23 PM: Here's what we know about coronavirus testing in New Mexico

As of March 28, nearly 11,000 tests have been administered in the state. Here's what we know about those tests.

2:08 PM: NMSU Aggie Cupboard works to meet demand during COVID-19 pandemic

Aggie Cupboard, founded in 2012 on a mission to provide free supplementary food assistance to community members attending or working at NMSU and Doña Ana Community College, has experienced a two-fold increase in clientele since concerns over COVID-19 started escalating earlier this month. The food pantry could use your help.

1:33 PM: COVID-19 outbreak threatens important New Mexico Community Survey

Community members are strongly encouraged to take the New Mexico Community Survey online to help support local efforts to prevent drug and alcohol abuse.

12:42 PM: Coronavirus and Las Cruces: A roundup of (almost) everything that's happened since March 11

 It’s been less than three weeks since Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced New Mexico’s first confirmed cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus. That was on March 11 — the day Lujan Grisham declared a statewide public health emergency and recommended the cancellation of large events.

The following two weeks brought a series of rapid changes, impacting nearly every aspect of daily life.

12:30 PM: NMSU Extension offers 4-H members special project during COVID-19 closures

New Mexico State University’s 4-H Youth Development department is offering daily video-conferencing sessions to 4-H members where they learn the basics of creating digital presentations, graphic design, digital illustration, sound design, animation and game design.

10:49 AM: Las Cruces Utilities responds to COVID-19: Keep services going

Las Cruces Utilities assures residents there will be no shutoffs of any utilities during the current coronavirus crisis.

Friday, March 27

7:17 PM: Police aren't stopping motorists to enforce stay-at-home order

New Mexico State Police and the Las Cruces Police Department want to let the public know that patrol officers are not stopping motorists to enforce the state's stay-at-home order. What are they doing?

4:33 PM: New Mexico orders air travelers to self-isolate; 55 new coronavirus cases announced

The New Mexico Department of Health announced 55 new confirmed cases of coronavirus COVID-19 in the state Friday, bringing the state's total to 191, while Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued a new executive order directing all air travelers landing in New Mexico to self-isolate for 14 days. 

2:16 PM: NMAA cancels spring sports

The NMAA Board of Directors held an emergency meeting on Friday in place of its April 1 meeting and announced spring high school sports in New Mexico have been canceled. Spring sports consist of baseball, softball, track and field, boys and girls golf and boys and girls tennis.

1:45 PM: Council gives mayor authority to declare state of emergency

The Las Cruces City Council voted 7-0 at a Friday special meeting to let Mayor Ken Miyagishima declare a state of emergency in Las Cruces, giving him expanded powers during the emergency, a mechanism that the city did not have.

12:37 PM: Together Las Cruces fund to help residents laid off or furloughed

Doña Ana county residents who have experienced a significant loss of income amid the COVID-19 pandemic can apply for relief through the Together Las Cruces fund.

To launch the fund, local businesses and donors have committed $125,000. Funds will be awarded in the amount of $100 to $500, based on the applicants' needs.

How to apply.

12:06 PM: Stay-at-home order a ‘perfect recipe for a nightmare’ of domestic violence

“This is probably an abuser’s dream,” said Jessica Fierro, a victim advocacy unit director for the Domestic Violence Resource Center in Albuquerque. “It’s the perfect recipe for a nightmare.”

Here are some resources. If you need immediate help, call 911.

11:30 AM: Schools closed for remainder of academic year due

New Mexico's public K-12 schools will remain closed through the 2019-20 academic year but will continue to instruct students online or through other home-learning models.

See how teachers at Sonoma Elementary are communicating with students during the extended break.

7:57 AM: New Mexico State University planning virtual commencement

New Mexico State University President John Floros made a couple of announcements during a virtual town hall Thursday afternoon. He joined by Chancellor Dan Arvizu and top-level administrators, to provide updates on the university's response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. 

The biggest takeaway is that May commencement exercises will take place on an online platform this year. 

The university had previously put all course instruction on a three-week break until March 30, asked students who had traveled for spring break not to return to residence halls and prepared to move most instruction online. 

Also, Floros disclosed that one NMSU student has tested positive, but said the student had been traveling and has not returned to campus.

7 AM: New Mexico sees major jump in unemployment claims amid coronavirus

More than 17,000 New Mexico residents have applied for unemployment benefits — more than 19 times the amount filed the previous week — amid the widespread economic shutdown caused by the coronavirus, officials said Thursday.

Thursday, March 26

8:43 PM: Lujan Grisham seeks deployment of 248-bed Army hospital to New Mexico

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Thursday formally requested the U.S. Defense Department deploy a staffed 248-bed U.S. Army combat support hospital to Albuquerque as a proactive measure intended to enhance the state’s treatment capacity.

7:45 PM: White Sands Missile Range declares health emergency, says COVID-19 case isolated

In a daily video update for the installation, White Sands Missile Range commander Col. David Trybula announced Wednesday that he had declared a public health emergency for the U.S. Army installation.

Trybula also said an employee at the range who tested positive for COVID-19 and contacts have been quarantined. Responding to submitted questions, he stated that there was no community spread of the virus at the installation. 

7:15 PM: Luna County official posts complaint about 'Asians' and COVID-19

Luna County's new emergency management director posted a video complaint on the Snapchat social media platform last week casting blame for the novel coronavirus pandemic on an ethnic group.

Luna County Attorney Charles Kretek verified Monday that Tyler Massey remained a county employee and said county manager Chris Brice "addressed the matter internally."

6:47 PM: New Mexico State Police launches coloring book drawing contest

New Mexico State Police on Thursday announced the agency is looking for the help of New Mexico children —  to create a coloring book.

In an effort to provide New Mexico’s children a creative outlet during school closures, NMSP is launching a coloring book drawing contest. The agency is challenging New Mexico children to draw and color a picture showing what they think of when picturing the New Mexico State Police.

Drawings can be anything a child imagines — including the agency's officers, K-9’s or special equipment like its helicopter, motorcycles or drones.

Submissions will be accepted from children of all ages. Prizes will be awarded for the best pictures. Some of those pictures will also appear in an upcoming NMSP coloring book.

Parents can print a blank coloring sheet at the agency's website to get the project started. Please include the child’s name, grade, school and phone number. Personal information will be used to contact the winners and will not be made public.

The deadline for submissions is at 5 p.m. on April 17. Submissions can be sent to Public.relations@state.nm.us or, by mail, to:

New Mexico State Police
Attn: Community Engagement
2501 Carlisle Blvd NE
Albuquerque, NM 87107

4:57 PM: U.S. passes Italy, China as nation with the most confirmed cases of COVID-19

The U.S. surged past China and Italy to become the planet's most infected nation Thursday, a stark milestone in the coronavirus era — and a reminder of its deadly, culture-changing effects on American life.

The Johns Hopkins University dash board showed the U.S. with 82,404 COVID-19 infections as of 6 p.m., ET, moving past Italy (80,589) and China (81,782). More than 1,100 people have died in the U.S.

4:39 PM: New Mexico now has 136 cases, Doña Ana County up to 16

The number of positive cases for the novel coronavirus in New Mexico jumped by 24, state health officials said Thursday afternoon, bringing the total number of cases up to 136 statewide.

The state still has only one known death from COVID-19, according to the news release from the New Mexico Department of Health.

3:16 PM: I-25/University Avenue construction update to be broadcast

In consideration of statewide efforts to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, the I-25/University Avenue construction team will not host an in-person meeting to provide its planned April update. Instead, the team will hold a virtual public meeting, which will be broadcast at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 2, on the Las Cruces Channel (Comcast Channel 98).

The public is encouraged to submit comments, questions or suggestions at www.i25-university.com

The construction team will provide an update on the project and will review:

  • Continuing construction for Phase 1
  • Current and planned traffic impacts
  • Construction plans and anticipated traffic impacts for April 2020

2:56 PM: New statewide fund to respond to COVID-19 launches with more than $1.1 million

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's office announced Thursday the creation of the All Together NM Fund, a $1.1 million fund by the New Mexico Coalition of Community Foundations to help New Mexico residents respond to and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a news release, the fund will provide a "phased response" to the pandemic.

First, according to the release, it will address immediate needs in the state's communities, including:

  • Procurement of food and medical and cleaning supplies for at-risk communities
  • Support for childcare workers who are supporting our front-line employees
  • Grants to address income insecurity among smaller businesses and employees affected by COVID-19 disruptions

According to the release, the grantmaking process will later shift to address income insecurity among affected workers and businesses and to fill gaps left by the government response. Finally, when the time comes, the fund will support recovery efforts.

Donors may contribute tax-deductible gifts of stock, property and electronic fund transfers by calling the Santa Fe Community Foundation at 505-988-9715. Visit AllTogetherNM.org for more information.

2:30 PM: NMPED: Statewide school closures to be extended

The statewide closure of all New Mexico schools is expected to be extended on Friday, according to a Thursday afternoon tweet from the New Mexico Public Education Department.

Friday morning, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Education Secretary Ryan Stewart and public health officials "will announce an extension to the school closure period," the tweet stated.

The Sun-News will monitor the situation and update our readers as information is made available.

1:39 PM: Chalk drawings and messages bring joy to Las Cruces neighborhood

Kaitlyn Sponseller's art project, inspired by her teacher, is bringing joy to her neighborhood.

Kaitlyn, her teacher Mrs. Sandoval and others are using sidewalk chalk to leave inspirational messages and pictures for their neighbors off Roadrunner Parkway while the community deals with the effects of a public health emergency, including school closures and orders for residents to stay home.

12:30 PM: Public access to solid waste facilities restricted

In an effort to ensure the continued functionality of the solid waste system, the South Central Solid Waste Authority and Las Cruces Utilities announced Thursday the following restrictions will be instituted at solid waste facilities in Las Cruces and Doña Ana County beginning at noon on Friday, March 27.

  • Amador Avenue Transfer Station, 2865 Amador Ave.: Essential businesses only/closed to the general public. The Amador Avenue Transfer Station will be closed on Sundays for cleaning and disinfection.
  • Las Cruces Recycling Center Dropoff, 2855 Amador Ave.: Closed to the general public.
  • Sonoma Ranch Recycling Drop Off Center, 555 S. Sonoma Ranch Blvd.: Closed to the general public.
  • Corralitos Regional Landfill, 14535 Robert Larson Blvd. (Corralitos Exit off I-10): Closed to the general public.
  • County Collection Centers: Punch card system is being suspended, hours for the general public are limited to Saturdays and Sundays 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Only four bags of waste allowed per vehicle. No yard waste or construction and demolition waste (C&D waste) accepted at this time.
  • Chaparral Collection and Recycling Center, 180 McCombs Rd.: Remains open to essential businesses only; residential fees are suspended. The general public is restricted to dropping off four bags of trash per vehicle on weekends only.
  • Old Foothills Landfill Clean Fill, Green Waste, and Compost, 555 S. Sonoma Ranch Blvd.: Essential businesses only/closed to the general public. Open Monday–Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Closed Saturday and Sunday

Residential green waste can be picked up at your curb by the Green Grappler on your scheduled pick-up date. Your schedule may be accessed online at https://externalforms.las-cruces.org/Grappler/Grappler.

Essential businesses should supply written documentation of their “essential” status. This may be required for access to local Solid Waste facilities.

All facilities remain open to regional commercial trash haulers to drop off solid waste during normal business hours.

The SCSWA and LCU will reopen to normal business as soon as possible. The SCSWA can be reached at 575-528-3800 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

1:58 AM: Good Samaritans deliver essentials to Doña Ana County's most vulnerable

Las Cruces residents are helping the community's most vulnerable by delivering groceries and other essential items to the elderly and disabled during the public health emergency.

Zooey Sophia Pook and Jeremiah Richardson are two of many concerned residents, each starting a campaign to find and deliver essential items to people in need.

11:44 AM: Some New Mexicans still find bare shelves after new COVID-19 shopping restrictions

As state and federal officials have enacted social distancing measures to stem the spread of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, shoppers have flooded stores and overstocked on basic necessities like food, hand sanitizer, paper towels and toilet paper.

Many shoppers are still struggling to find the groceries they need.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has expressed dismay over the hoarding, often telling New Mexicans during regular news conferences that panic doesn't help the state manage the crisis.

GALLERY: Albertsons holds senior shopping hours amid coronavirus concerns

Wednesday, March 25

7:37 PM: NMSP offers updated guidance on reporting "stay-at-home" violations 

The New Mexico State Police on Wednesday provided updated information on how to report non-compliance within a business, a violation of the mass gatherings ban, or other violations of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's "stay-at-home" public health order, in effect through April 10,

If you wish to report non-compliance within a business, a violation of the mass gatherings ban, or other violations of the public order, you may report them via email to NMSP.COVID19@state.nm.us or contact your local police or sheriff’s department on their non-emergency phone lines. When submitting a non-compliance complaint, please provide the following: date and time of observed violation, city, county, business name and business address, if applicable.

7:14 PM: LCPS counselors, teachers work to help Class of 2020

Las Cruces Public Schools administrators, counselors and teachers are working to assure Class of 2020 seniors they will have the same opportunities to earn credits toward graduation as they did before a state mandate closed all New Mexico public schools because of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re still waiting on guidance from the state about commencement ceremonies,” said Wendi Miller-Tomlinson, LCPS deputy superintendent of teaching, learning and research. “Those traditions are very important to us, but our priority right now is working with our students to get them every available resource to earn the credits they need.” 

Miller-Tomlinson said leadership at all high schools has been working remotely to address technology needs, current grade status and identifying students who need credit recovery assistance in the fourth quarter of the school year to earn the minimum credits required for graduation. Counselors will be reaching out to those students to determine the best alternative for credit recovery.

“Our schools will establish schedules to check out technology, if it’s needed, or to provide take-home materials to earn credits. Learning coaches will also be working to support students as they navigate online coursework.”

If a senior student believes he or she will need assistance recovering credits and has not been contacted by a counselor, they are asked to email their principal directly. A list of addresses can be found online at www.lcps.net.

4:43 PM: New Mexico now at 112 positive coronavirus tests, including 1 death

New Mexico state health officials on Monday announced 13 additional positive tests for coronavirus COVID-19, including the state's first death.

No new cases were reported in Doña Ana County, which remains at 13 positive tests.

An Eddy County man is the state's first death due to COVID-19. The male in his late 70s was admitted to Artesia General Hospital on Sunday. The hospital, in a conference call on Wednesday, said the man died Monday.

3:29 PM: City website displays community resources, including map for meals for kids

Due to the impact of COVID-19 on the community, the City of Las Cruces has compiled a list of resources for residents affected by the health emergency on its website, www.las-cruces.org. COVID-19 related news and information is being shared in the COVID-19 Alerts section at http://www.las-cruces.org/AlertCenter.aspx, which you can link to at the top of the homepage.

Coronavirus in Las Cruces: Las Cruces Mayor crafts $4.3 million plan for COVID-19 economic assistance

One of the resources in the "Resources for Family and Youth" section includes a map to help families locate meal distribution sites for children in our community. The map, created by one of the City's Geographic Information System analysts, displays a star for each meal distribution site provided by Las Cruces Public Schools & Family and Youth Inc. The map is located at http://www.las-cruces.org/2121/Resources-for-Families-Youth. Meals are provided for youth, 18 years of age or younger who are enrolled in public, private or charter schools. Meals are designed for pick up only through April 6. 

3:02 PM: DASO: Sex offenders must still comply with in-person registration

Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office wishes to remind all sex offenders who have to register that they must report in person to the sex offender registration office. This applies to those required to register or re-register.

New Mexico state statute requires offenders to report in person to register. The registration office, located at 1851 Copper Loop, is taking necessary precautions to maintain social distancing and will limit capacity to fewer than five people at a time, the department stated.

2:52 PM: As unemployment claims rise amid coronavirus, Las Cruces-area workers face uncertain pay

Businesses statewide have been forced to close to stem the spread of COVID-19. Some have had to lay off workers to stay afloat.

Last week, unemployment claims in New Mexico jumped by 10,000 from March 15 to 19. That can be attributed to people who have lost their jobs or who have had hours cut due to COVID-19 shutdowns under expanded qualification for unemployment benefits.

Business: Bill aims to boost New Mexico's farm labor supply and give some immigrants legal status

Workers laid off or now making less face uncertainty over food, rent and utility money.

2:13 PM: Las Cruces mother and friends sew over 120 face masks for healthcare workers

People around the country are sewing handmade masks for health care workers facing shortages amid the coronavirus pandemic — including one Las Cruces mother who sewed more than 120 face masks for her daughter who is a doctor on the front line in Chicago. 

Liz Gonzales told the Sun-News she immediately stepped into action when her daughter, Dr. Janae Gonzales Gilpin, told her she was worried about the lack of N95 masks to keep her and her colleagues safe. 

2:02 PM: First coronavirus death in New Mexico reported in Eddy County

An Eddy County man is the state's first death due to COVID-19, according to the New Mexico Department of Health.

The man, whose name was not released, was in his late 70s and died Sunday at Artesia General Hospital after seeking treatment. He died the same day, read a New Mexico Department of Health news release.

1:35 PM: State Police spearheading enforcement of coronavirus social distancing order

New Mexico State Police are spearheading the state's charge of staying at home amid coronavirus COVID-19 mitigation protocols, and other law enforcement agencies will work closely with them to ensure the public's health and safety. 

Education: NMSU researcher continues efforts to make NM’s Interstate 10 safer for drivers

Since the state issued a social distancing directive March 19, calling for New Mexicans to stay home, there have been 27 calls for enforcement in Las Cruces and 169 calls throughout the state, according to NMSP Spokesperson Dusty Francisco.

1:05 PM: State clamps down on protective medical gear 

Having previously emphasized that supplies of protective medical gear are tight, on Wednesday Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced two new public health orders to take inventory and preserve supplies for medical personnel.

Health care providers and wholesale medical suppliers are required to report their inventories to the state Department of Health within three days under the new guidance. 

11:34 AM: State to use emergency alert system for important communications

In light of the current public health crisis and the need to communicate critical information directly to as many New Mexicans as possible, the state of New Mexico will use an emergency alert system, disseminated from the state’s Emergency Operations Center, when conditions warrant. The announcement was made by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's office Wednesday.

This system is similar to Amber Alerts, which are used to notify the public about missing children. Alerts will be sent through text messages, television, and radio. The system is intended to disseminate important information widely and as quickly as possible and is not a cause for alarm. The first alert is expected to be sent at roughly 12:30 P.M. Wednesday.​

Messages will state essential public information from the Department of Health, Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and Governor's Office regarding important public health guidance and instruction, such as the recent instruction to remain at home except for outings essential to health, safety and welfare.

Coronavirus in Las Cruces: New Mexico State Police spearheading enforcement of social distancing order

More information about the state of New Mexico's response to COVID-19 is available at newmexico.gov and cv.nmhealth.org.

10:56 AM: State: Income tax extensions won't trigger interest charges

The New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department announced Wednesday that, due to recent IRS action, it will not have to impose interest charges on taxpayers who take advantage of the 90-day extensions announced last week for filing and paying New Mexico personal and corporate income taxes. However, interest will need to accrue on withholding tax extensions.

“The due date for filing New Mexico income tax returns and payment is tied to the federal filing deadline, which was postponed by the IRS on March 20. This IRS action enables us to forgo imposing interest charges normally required under New Mexico law for extensions,” said Taxation and Revenue Secretary Stephanie Schardin Clarke.

The department on Wednesday also clarified that the extensions apply to the quarterly personal income tax estimated payments required of some taxpayers on April 15, which includes many self-employed New Mexicans, as well as to trusts, estates, and fiduciaries. All of these will now be due no later than July 15, 2020.

New Mexico personal and corporate income taxes normally due on April 15 will now be due on July 15. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the Department announced the extensions taxes in recognition of the economic hardships many face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tuesday, March 24

4:55 PM: New Mexico hits 100 cases of coronavirus

The New Mexico Department of Health announced 17 new positive results of testing for the COVID-19 coronavirus, bringing the statewide total of confirmed cases to 100

Coronavirus in New Mexico: New Mexico hits 100 cases of COVID-19

Three new cases were identified in Doña Ana County, bringing the county's total to 13. The new cases were all males, described as in their 20s, 30s and 60s. 

4:08 PM: 2020 Spaceport America Cup canceled

Spaceport America and the Experimental Sounding Rocket Association on Tuesday announced the cancellation of the fourth annual Spaceport America Cup that was scheduled for June 16-20 at Spaceport America.

The decision was made based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for canceling large events in order to keep the students, spectators and sponsors safe and healthy, the agency stated. The event was set to engage more than 1,700 college students from 17 countries on a week-long rocket design and launch competition.

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“We are aware that this is incredibly disappointing news for the students, the universities, the communities of Sierra and Doña Ana Counties and our sponsors,” said Dan Hicks, CEO of Spaceport America. “It is important that the students respect and abide by their state and country guidelines for the health and safety of all."

3:53 PM: Mesilla Valley MPO Metropolitan Transportation Plan Mobility 2045 cancels open house meetings

The Las Cruces City Manager's Office announced Tuesday the Mesilla Valley MPO has canceled all March and April Metropolitan Transportation Plan Mobility 2045 open house meetings. The affected meetings are:

  • March 17: Sage Cafe, 6121 Reynolds Dr., Las Cruces, 5 - 6:30 p.m.
  • March 23: Doña Ana Community Center, 5745 Ledesma Dr., Doña Ana, 5 - 6:30 p.m. 
  • March 24: Vado/Del Cerro Community Center, 180 La Fe Ave, Mesquite/Vado, 6:30 - 8 p.m. 
  • March 30: Munson Senior Center, 975 S. Mesquite St., Las Cruces, 5 - 6:30 p.m.
  • April 2: Radium Springs Community Center, 12060 Lindbeck Rd., Radium Springs, 5 - 6:30 p.m. 
  • April 7: Mesilla Community Center, 2251 Calle De Santiago, Mesilla, 5 - 7 p.m.

Coronavirus: Here is a list of Las Cruces-area events, organizations affected

The Mesilla Valley MPO intends to have public engagement meetings before the adoption of Mobility 2045 and will announce new dates when the events are rescheduled.

3:37 PM: Disaster Distress Helpline provides immediate crisis counseling to those affected by the coronavirus pandemic

Natural disasters – including such pandemics as the coronavirus outbreak – can be overwhelming and also can seriously affect emotional health. The Disaster Distress Helpline, at 1-800-985-5990, can provide immediate counseling to anyone seeking help in coping with the mental or emotional effects caused by developments related to the coronavirus pandemic.

The helpline is a free resource, available 24/7, that responds to people who need crisis counseling and support in dealing with the traumatic effects of a natural or human-caused disaster. The helpline is sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Helpline specialists are trained to assist callers who have a range of symptoms.

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Who Needs to be Tested for Coronavirus? Wochit

“People who have been through a traumatic event can experience anxiety, worry or insomnia,” said Dr. Elinore F. McCance-Katz, the assistant secretary for mental health and substance use and head of SAMHSA. “People seeking emotional help during an ongoing disaster such as a pandemic can call 1-800-985-5990 or can text ‘TalkWithUs’ to 66746 – and can find recovery and coping strategies.”

The helpline immediately connects callers to trained and caring professionals from the closest crisis counseling centers in the nationwide network of centers. The helpline staff provides confidential counseling, referrals and other needed support services. 

More on the helpline is at http://disasterdistress.samhsa.gov/.

Coronavirus: Things you can do to fight boredom while self-distancing at home for COVID-19

3:23 PM: Las Cruces parks and rec closes some facilities, discourages large gatherings at parks

The city of Las Cruces Parks and Recreation Department has suspended all services, which include medians, rights of way, alleys, parks, trails, restrooms and fountains are suspended until further notice. Recreation facilities, pools, and the administrative office are closed as well. 

3:07 PM: KRWG Public Media to broadcast weekly radio show on coronavirus

What effect is COVID-19 having on our local community? To help answer that question, KRWG Public Media has launched a weekly radio program that will address questions on how the coronavirus is impacting the local community, the station announced Tuesday.

Voice of the Public: Coronavirus Update will air from 1 to 2 p.m. each Friday on 90.7 FM and krwg.org. The show will feature guests who have an insight on what is happening locally with regards to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"KRWG Public Media is pleased to offer this weekly program as a chance for listeners to ask questions regarding this important story," said KRWG Director of Content Fred Martino. "For those who don't want to call in, we have the opportunity to participate on Facebook with questions and comments. In advance of the broadcast, listeners may also email questions to feedback@nmsu.edu."

This Friday, Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima will be the featured guest. The mayor will take your calls and questions about the city's response to the pandemic, as well as other questions and concerns you may have.

Coronavirus in New Mexico: State courts suspend new criminal jury trials amid COVID-19 concerns

Next week, New Mexico Mexico State University President John Floros will be the guest. That program will air from 1 to 2 p.m. Friday, April 3.

2:48 PM: New Mexico courts halt evictions for inability to pay during coronavirus emergency

The state Supreme Court, which administers the court system in New Mexico, ordered a temporary moratorium on evictions for inability to pay rent during the coronavirus COVID-19 public health emergency.

2:33 PM: White Sands Missile Range confirms COVID-19 case

U.S. Army Colonel David C. Trybula announced Monday night that an employee at White Sands Missile Range has tested positive for the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 disease. 

In a video update posted to WSMR's official Facebook page, the WSMR commander said the employee has been working from home for more than a week but provided no further information about their symptoms or prior contacts with others at the installation.

1:55 PM: FBI warns of potential for increased risk of child exploitation

Due to school closings as a result of COVID-19, children will potentially have an increased online presence and/or be in a position that puts them at an inadvertent risk, according to a news release issued Tuesday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The FBI is seeking to warn parents, educators, caregivers, and children about the dangers of online sexual exploitation and signs of child abuse.

Crime: Authorities seek Las Cruces-area couple accused of child abuse

Online sexual exploitation comes in many forms, the release stated. Individuals may coerce victims into providing sexually explicit images or videos of themselves, often in compliance with offenders’ threats to post the images publicly or send the images to victims’ friends and family.

Other offenders may make casual contact with children online, gain their trust, and introduce sexual conversation that increases in egregiousness over time. Ultimately this activity may result in maintaining an online relationship that includes sexual conversation and the exchange of illicit images, to eventually physically meeting the child in-person.

In order for the victimization to stop, children typically have to come forward to someone they trust — typically a parent, teacher, caregiver or law enforcement, the agency stated. The embarrassment of being enticed and/or coerced to engage in unwanted behavior is what often prevents children from coming forward. Offenders may have hundreds of victims around the world, so coming forward to help law enforcement identify offenders may prevent countless other incidents of sexual exploitation.

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The Administration for Children and Families has some tips for recognizing child abuse. Wochit

Abuse can occur offline through direct contact with another individual. During these uncertain conditions, where time with other adults and caregivers has increased immensely, parents/guardians should communicate with their children about appropriate contact with adults and watch for any changes in behavior, including an increase in nightmares, withdrawn behavior, angry outbursts, anxiety, depression, not wanting to be left alone with an individual, and sexual knowledge.

Parents and guardians are urged to take the following measures to help educate and prevent children from becoming victims of child predators and sexual exploitation during this time of national emergency:

  • Discuss Internet safety with children of all ages when they engage in online activity.
  • Review and approve games and apps before they are downloaded.
  • Make sure privacy settings are set to the strictest level possible for online gaming systems and electronic devices.
  • Monitor your children’s use of the Internet; keep electronic devices in an open, common room of the house.
  • Check your children’s profiles and what they post online.
  • Explain to your children that images posted online will be permanently on the Internet.
  • Make sure children know that anyone who asks a child to engage in sexually explicit activity online should be reported to a parent, guardian, or other trusted adult and law enforcement.

Crime: Sunland Park mother charged after 4 children, including newborn, test positive for drugs

More information about the FBI’s guidance on protecting children from sexual exploitation is available at https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/protecting-your-kids.  

1:40 PM: MountainView Regional Medical Center tightens restrictions on visitors

MountainView Regional Medical Center on Tuesday announced tighter restrictions on all visitors in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak in New Mexico, and continuing efforts to slow community spread of the disease.

Beginning Wednesday morning, the private hospital said it will bar all visitors, vendors and contractors with a few, specific exceptions. Read about them here.

1:36 PM: New Mexico creates coronavirus business recovery fund

New Mexico’s State Investment Council on Tuesday approved the creation of a $100 million business recovery fund to help medium-sized businesses meet payroll obligations and avoid layoffs amid the economic turmoil of the coronavirus pandemic.

Laid off or hours cut because of coronavirus? Here are some resources to help

10:19 AM: State Libertarian Party calls for an extension on concealed-carry licenses

The Libertarian Party of New Mexico is calling on state officials to grant a six-month extension for residents who have a concealed-carry license set to expire.

"Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the New Mexico Department of Public Safety should extend the expiration date of currently issued concealed handgun licenses for 6 months, to September 16, 2020," the party stated in a Tuesday news release.

"Citizens with a concealed carry license expiring in the next few months have no way to comply with the in-person training requirements of the Department without violating the social isolation (dictates) of the Governor, and the Department of Public Safety," the release stated.

Currently, a post on the DPS website states the department's offices are "now locked to the public."

To limit exposure to you and our staff, we strongly encourage applicants who have questions to email (nmcc.questions@state.nm.us) or call (505-841-8053) the Concealed Carry Unit and mail applications and instructor forms (6301 Indian School Rd NE Suite 310 Albuquerque, NM 87110).

If your needs cannot be addressed via the aforementioned process, we will gladly schedule an in-person appointment to assist you.

To sign up for an appointment, please email using the form below. Or call 505-841-8053.

10:02 AM: South Central Regional Transit District eliminates fares

Effective immediately, theSouth Central Regional Transit District will operate all services fare-free, officials announced Tuesday.  

Coronavirus in New Mexico: State clamps down on protective medical gear amid COVID-19 outbreak

This action is being taken to support social-distancing on each bus. The first two rows behind the bus driver are now closed to give more space between the riders and bus operators. Riders are encouraged to leave empty seats between themselves and others.

The District has further expanded its efforts to keep buses clean. This includes increased cleaning and sanitation on all buses every day and the use of a fogger to clean the buses after the buses return to the facility each day.

The District continues to provide essential transit services to the community with trips for health care, doctor's office, hospital and to grocery stores and work. 

For up-to-date notices of these and future service changes and bus schedules, visit http://scrtd.org/ or call 575-323-1620.

Monday, March 23

6:26 PM: LCPS playground and sports fields closed

Effective immediately, playgrounds and all outdoor facilities on Las Cruces Public School campuses will close to the public. The move comes after a new public health directive from state officials that restricts gatherings of more than five people and implores residents to stay home unless “for outings necessary for health, safety and welfare,” according to a news release from New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.  

Karen Trujillo, superintendent for Las Cruces Public Schools, ordered all school district playgrounds, basketball courts, tennis courts and sports fields to close to the public in compliance with the order. Intensive cleaning efforts already underway inside buildings will extend to include those outdoor spaces, according to Trujillo. Security personnel will patrol all school campuses 24 hours a day, and additional frequent patrols will be conducted by Las Cruces Police. 

Coronavirus in Las Cruces: School playgrounds closed as district tries to plan ahead

“The safety and well-being of our children, families and community remains our top priority through this crisis,” said Trujillo. School administration, according to Trujillo, were working remotely on Monday to ensure meal distribution services continued in compliance with the new social distancing directive.  

Plus: The district is trying to plan ahead, but that's no easy task.

4:45 PM: New Mexico orders residents to stay home. What does that mean?

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced tighter restrictions on public and private business as the state added 18 new cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus. The 18 new cases bring the total of COVID-19 cases to 83.

2:10 PM: Social distance and save

Restaurants that have been directed to switch to takeout and delivery only amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic are dishing out special deals to help residents save money during these hard times.

1:46 PM: New Mexico soon to have COVID-19 testing sites in all 33 counties

State Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel said she received the order to expand testing facilities on Sunday to counties with as few as 700 residents, as positive tests for COVID-19 mounted in the Albuquerque area and extended for the first time to Lea County in the oil-producing southeast corner of the state.

Coronavirus in New Mexico: NMSU economist addresses economic impact of COVID-19

Sunday, March 22

3:45 PM: New Mexico at 65, Doña Ana County at 4 positive tests.

New Mexico state health officials on Sunday announced eight additional positive tests for COVID-19, including two new cases in Doña Ana County, bringing the state total up to 65. The county has four positive tests: a male in his 20s, two females in their 20s and a female in her 50s.

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1:11 PM: Where can I eat?

Here's a list of restaurants offering delivery, curbside takeaway and carry-out options during the statewide public health emergency order.

You may also want to take a look at food-delivery services.

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11:54 AM: From the Opinion pages

Sun-News columnists Algernon D'Ammassa and Peter Goodman each penned responses to the coronavirus pandemic.

D'Ammassa encourages those stuck at home to pick up a pen (or pencil) and write a letter by hand: "Whether we are fortunate enough to have a home stocked with jigsaw puzzles, games and books, privileged enough to have collections of DVDs or subscriptions for streaming movies, there is likely time now to write some letters. Their value is more than many estimate."

Goodman explores the potential benefits to come: "I wonder if we might even benefit from the spirit of unity that should mark what’s in effect a war. Perhaps battling COVID-19 together will dwarf our political differences, and perhaps that spirit will linger a while after we pull through."

In an extended letters to the editor column, readers thank community leaders, offer advice on making it through the pandemic, express concern and more.

Coronavirus: Soap works miracles, and other thoughts on the COVID-19 pandemic

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11:41 AM: Torres Small virtual town hall

US Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, D-N.M., is hosting a virtual town hall with public health experts, state officials, small business and unemployment advisors regarding the coronavirus pandemic.

The event begins at 6 p.m. Mountain on Sunday. You can listen in and/or participate here: torressmall.house.gov/live

Saturday, March 21

6:13 PM: Stimulus check: What we know (and don't)

Senate Republicans on Thursday released a $1-trillion economic stimulus plan, which details a proposal to distribute a $1,200 payment for each individual or $2,400 for joint returns. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell confirmed early Thursday that "the second major pillar of our legislation will be even more straightforward: Direct financial help for Americans." A lot of the details of this proposal, titled the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or CARES, could still change as the bill goes through the approval process. 

Here's what we know – and don't. Details are subject to change. We will update, as needed.

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6:09 PM: Laid off or hours cut because of coronavirus? Here are some resources to help

Businesses and life are grinding to a halt due to the social distancing measures meant to combat the coronavirus, COVID-19.

Many are working from home. But many workers are being laid off, and American jobless claims jumped by 70,000 during the week that ended with March 14, according to U.S. Labor Department numbers — the largest one-week jump since 2012.

In New Mexico, the Associated Press reported more than 10,000 workers statewide have filed for unemployment benefits between March 15 and 19.

Here are some local resources for New Mexico workers who have lost their jobs or have had hours cut because of the coronavirus.

Coronavirus: New Mexico creates coronavirus business recovery fund

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5:37 PM: Las Cruces agencies serving homeless tighten polices amid COVID-19 pandemic

Concerns about the spread of coronavirus among the homeless population in Las Cruces aren't being taken lightly. Here's how Las Cruces Community of Hope and the Gospel Rescue MIssion are responding.

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5:26 PM: Should I get tested for COVID-19, and if yes, where do I go?

It has been another busy week here in New Mexico tracking COVID-19 cases and we are promoting social distancing everywhere. The Lujan Grisham administration is doing everything we can to protect New Mexicans in every possible way. But the majority of questions that get emailed, phoned and texted to us (day and night) are not technical questions about social distancing (“Are we supposed to stay 6 feet or 6 meters apart?”) but rather, “Should I get tested?” and “Where can I get tested?”

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4:31 PM: SBA disaster assistance now available to all New Mexico small businesses economically impacted by COVID-19 outbreak

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to all New Mexico small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza announced Saturday. 

SBA disaster assistance is now available to all counties within the state of New Mexico and the following neighboring counties:

  • Neighboring Arizona counties:  Apache, Cochise and Greenlee;
  • Neighboring Colorado counties:  Archuleta, Baca, Conejos, Costilla, La Plata, Las Animas and Montezuma;
  • Neighboring Oklahoma county:  Cimarron; 
  • Neighboring Texas counties:  Andrews, Bailey, Cochran, Culberson, Dallam, Deaf Smith, El Paso, Gaines, Hartley, Hudspeth, Loving, Oldham, Parmer, Reeves, Winkler and Yoakum;
  • Neighboring Utah county:  San Juan.

Business: Small Business Administration provides resources to military and veterans

“SBA is strongly committed to providing the most effective and customer-focused response possible to assist New Mexico small businesses with federal disaster loans. We will be swift in our efforts to help these small businesses recover from the financial impacts of (COVID-19),” Carranza stated in a Saturday news release.

SBA customer service representatives will be available to answer questions about SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program and explain the application process. 

“Small businesses, private non-profit organizations of any size, small agricultural cooperatives and small aquaculture enterprises that have been financially impacted as a direct result of (COVID-19) since Jan. 31, 2020, may qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses which could have been met had the disaster not occurred,” Carranza stated.

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Here are four ways consumers can help support small businesses who are struggling financially during the coronavirus pandemic. Wochit

“These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. Disaster loans can provide vital economic assistance to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing,” Carranza added.

Eligibility for Economic Injury Disaster Loans is based on the financial impact of COVID-19. The interest rate is 3.75 percent for small businesses. The interest rate for private, nonprofit organizations is 2.75 percent. SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years and are available to entities without the financial ability to offset the adverse impact without hardship. 

Food news: Bags of beans, chile to be given away; pantries need donations, volunteers

Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on SBA disaster assistance.

Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing may call 800-877-8339. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

The deadline to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan is Dec. 17, 2020.

For more information about coronavirus, please visit www.Coronavirus.gov. For information about available SBA resources and services, visit SBA.gov/coronavirus.

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Coronavirus in New Mexico: State courts halt evictions for inability to pay during coronavirus emergency

3:48 PM: Holloman AFB declares public health emergency

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE - Taking further action in the evolving COVID-19 situation, the 49th Wing commander has declared a public health emergency and has enacted additional base access guidelines at Holloman Air Force Base, as of Friday, March 20.

There are currently no known cases of COVID-19 at Holloman AFB or in the immediate local area, base officials announced Friday. Base leadership continues to collaborate with city, county and state officials to actively monitor the situation.

Colonel Joseph Campo’s declaration of the public health emergency elevates the safety and security measures to help protect the base populace and surrounding community. A number of precautionary measures have already been in place including minimal staffing, social distancing, and closing or limiting services at certain businesses. The base has also enhanced its childcare screening to protect childcare providers and children.

Effective Friday, March 20, access to the base is limited to Active Duty, Reserve and National Guard personnel, and their dependents. Additionally, contractor and civilian personnel executing or supporting their units’ mission and all residents of Holloman AFB will be permitted access.

Retired personnel will be permitted on base, but only to access the medical clinic. Current visitor passes will be honored, but no new passes will be issued. New Family Camp mobile lodging residents are restricted to Active Duty, Reserve and National Guard personnel.

Base officials say these are temporary measures to ensure Holloman’s mission will continue by protecting the health of Holloman’s military members, civilians, contractors, and their families.

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Military: Airman runs own marathon to honor Bataan Memorial Death March

3:27 PM: Comcast suspends data restrictions, disconnections and late fees

Comcast on Saturday announced several changes in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. These include a suspension of service disconnections and late fees until further notice, as well as the opening of all public WiFi hotspots — which will become free for everyone.

The company has increased speeds for its low-income Internet Essentials customers, and new customers who apply by April 30 will receive two months of free service with no obligation to continue the service after that.

Comcast will also eliminate data limits for the next 60 days, the company announced. X1 users can access educational content on the service. Just say “education” into the voice remote. The latest COVID-19 news can be accessed by speaking “Coronavirus” into the voice remote.

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3:17 PM: Stay calm, reassuring when talking to kids about COVID-19, NMSU professor suggests

Parents are faced with the difficult task of talking to their children about the COVID-19 pandemic, but should remain calm and reassuring in these uncertain times, said Lisa Peterson, a New Mexico State University assistant professor and director of the School Psychology Doctoral Program in the College of Education.

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3:07 PM: White Sands National Park closed until further notice

ALAMOGORDO – White Sands National Park on Saturday announced that, as of Sunday, March 22, it will close until further notice.

The closure is designed to adhere to the latest guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, and local and state authorities to promote social distancing, park officials stated.

"The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners at White Sands National Park is our number one priority," a news release announcing the closure stated. "The National Park Service is working with the federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation." 

Coronavirus in Las Cruces: Las Cruces parks and rec closes some facilities, discourages large gatherings at parks

The public will be notified on the park's website, www.nps.gov/whsa, and Facebook page, www.facebook.com/WhiteSandsNPS, when full operations resume.

Updates about all NPS operations will be posted on www.nps.gov/coronavirus. Please check with individual parks for specific details about park operations.

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3:00 PM: Second COVID-19 case confirmed in Doña Ana County as testing ramps up

State health officials on Saturday afternoon announced the second positive case of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, in Doña Ana County — described as a woman in her 20's. 

The new Doña Ana County case is among 14 additional positive tests for COVID-19 announced Saturday, bringing the statewide total to 57 cases.

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Friday, March 20

10:04 PM: NMSU to students on spring break: Don't come back

Heightening moves to reduce population on its campuses to slow community spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, New Mexico State University President John Floros issued a message Friday night to students in dorms who traveled for spring break: Stay away.

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9:59 PM: Over 10,000 New Mexico residents file for unemployment amid coronavirus pandemic

More than 10,000 residents of New Mexico have filed for unemployment benefits in less than a week, potentially doubling the number of recipients amid economic upheaval linked to the coronavirus pandemic.

Work Force Solutions Secretary Bill McCamley said Friday the agency received 10,879 claims between Sunday and Thursday evening, up from a little over 800 in first-time claim requests the previous week.

Laid off or hours cut because of coronavirus? Here are some resources to help

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8:29 PM: Drive-thru COVID-19 screenings scheduled for Saturday and Sunday

The New Mexico Department of Health is conducting additional COVID-19 screenings in Las Cruces over the weekend — Saturday at Las Cruces Public Health Office and Sunday at Memorial Medical Center.

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7:01 PM: Salvation Army closes thrift store, will still take donations

The Salvation Army will close its thrift store at 220 E. Idaho Ave. in Las Cruces until further notice, beginning March 21.

“This was not an easy decision, but it was the only decision we could make, given the COVID-19 crisis,” said Captain Michael Evans, Salvation Army Corps Officer.

Donations will still be accepted at the store, following safety and social distancing recommendations.

“We also wish to assure everyone that The Salvation Army continues to provide social services to our local neighbors in need. If you have a need, please do not hesitate to call on us,” Evans said. “We are praying for everyone’s health and safety.”

The Salvation Army Las Cruces Corps Community Center is located at 1590 California Ave. and can also be reached at 575-524-4713 or LasCruces.SalvationArmy.org.

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4:18 PM: High Desert Brewing Co. no longer refills growlers

Due to growing concerns with COVID-19, High Desert Brewing Co. will no longer be filling outside growlers until further notice. The company has a full growler stock of all beers on tap and, as always, any containers can be brought back for a return of deposit, the company announced Friday

"Don't forget we sell kegs as well! If you have some ice or better yet a kegerator come pick up a keg and quarantine more comfortably," High Desert stated in a Facebook post.

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4:15 PM: Drive-thru communion

St. James' Episcopal Church, 102 St. James St., is offering a "drive-thru Communion" during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hours are 10 a.m. to noon on Sundays and 5 to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays. The church advises: "Please follow the directions of the volunteers and stay in your car."

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Coronavirus in Las Cruces: Frequently asked questions about New Mexico's stay-at-home order

3:36 PM: GALLERY: A look at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing site in Las Cruces

Drive-thru coronavirus testing was set up in Las Cruces at the Doña Ana County Health Services Center, scheduled Friday, March 20, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. or until supplies ran out. After closing at around 11:15 a.m., a line of waiting cars were signaled to move on.

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3:29 PM: Stranded women's football team in Honduras includes six from Las Cruces

Armed guards tag along with the American Football Events Team USA women's football players as they travel to a Walmart in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. The store is fully stocked with toilet paper, unlike cities in America, where the COVID-19 coronavirus continues to spread. 

In an effort to prevent the spread of the virus, the Honduras government closed the country to travel for a seven-day period last week, stranding the 55 team members and coaches, who were competing in the America's Women Bowl.

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3:17: Special shopping hours accommodate seniors and most vulnerable during pandemic

New Mexico’s Aging and Long Term Services Department leadership acknowledged the wonderful community partners throughout the state who have stepped up to assist our senior and vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 pandemic, including many corporate and local grocery stores that are offering special shopping hours.

Many have adjusted their hours, typically opening early, to allow these individuals to beat the crowds and reduce their risk of exposure, as the virus is more dangerous to the elderly and immuno-compromised, and many essential items have been difficult for seniors to find. The early hours have the additional benefit of allowing seniors to shop while shelves are well-stocked, the agency stated in a Friday news release.

Coronavirus in Las Cruces: Albertsons, Walmart and Target add senior hours amid coronavirus concerns

Participating stores include:

  • Walmart locations – throughout New Mexico – Beginning on March 24 through April 28, Tuesdays (only) stores will open one hour early, for those 60 years of age or older.
  • Target locations – throughout New Mexico – Wednesdays (only) stores will open one hour early, for those individuals who are elderly or have underlying health conditions.
  • Dollar General – various New Mexico locations -- Opening one hour early every day, for seniors.
  • Whole Foods locations – throughout New Mexico – Opening one hour early every day, for those 60 years of age and older.
  • Albertson’s and Safeway Markets – throughout New Mexico – Tuesdays and Thursdays (only), opening from 7:00 AM to 9:00 AM, for seniors and at-risk populations.
  • Big Lots – throughout New Mexico – Reserving first hour of every day for seniors and those most vulnerable to COVID-19 virus.

“Many older adults already face obstacles in day-to-day activities that many of us take for granted. In these particularly challenging times, we are grateful to our wonderful private sector community partners who are working extra hours to accommodate these more vulnerable populations for the good of our communities. They are a bright light and amazing resource as we navigate these unique circumstances,” said Katrina Hotrum-Lopez, cabinet secretary for New Mexico ALTSD.

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3:01 PM: Walmart announces special cash bonus and early payment of Q1 bonuses totaling nearly $550 million for hourly associates

Walmart on Friday announced plans to provide a special cash bonus for hourly associates for their hard work and dedication to serving customers in a time of an unprecedented national health crisis. The bonus is for all U.S. hourly associates in stores, clubs, supply chain and offices. The bonus will be $300 for full-time hourly associates and $150 for part-time hourly associates and will add up to more than $365 million. Every hourly associate employed by the company as of March 1 will qualify, and it will pay out on April 2.

In addition to the bonus for hourly associates, the company will accelerate the next scheduled quarterly bonus for store, club and supply chain associates a month early.

Coronavirus in Las Cruces: Las Cruces mother and friends sew over 120 face masks for healthcare workers

When it pays out in late April, it will help provide more cash in hand for associates sooner. The company will pay those bonuses as if the company achieved its first-quarter plan. At the regularly scheduled time for bonus payout in May, that amount may increase for associates based on performance. In no case will an eligible associate receive less than the first quarter plan bonus payment. The early payout will add up to $180 million.

Overall, it amounts to nearly $550 million going into associates’ pockets and the economy at this important time. Hourly Q4 bonuses were paid this week, meaning hourly associates will receive bonus payments on March 19, April 2, April 30 and May 28.

“Walmart associates have gone above and beyond the call of duty in serving our customers during these unprecedented times,” said Doug McMillon, president and CEO, Walmart. “We want to reward our associates for their hard work and recognize them for the work that is in front of us.”

Additional hiring

Walmart has a steady workforce of full-time and part-time workers helping meet the everyday needs of its customers. As part of responding to the current environment, Walmart announced Friday the company will hire 150,000 new associates through the end of May to work in stores, clubs, distribution centers and fulfillment centers. These roles will be temporary at first, but many will convert to permanent roles over time. We’ve reached out to industry groups representing restaurants and hospitality to facilitate temporary roles that can be a bridge for their employees during this difficult time, the company stated.

More: City manager search to restart, Studer resigns from city

Walmart is also implementing a new process to dramatically expedite hiring for key roles, such as cashiers and stockers. What is usually a two-week application cycle will be reduced to a 24-hour process. Anyone interested in applying should do so at careers.walmart.com. This initiative is aimed at helping put Americans to work, while helping Walmart better serve customers during this time of increased demand.

“We know millions of Americans who are usually employed at this time are temporarily out of work, and at the same time we’re currently seeing strong demand in our stores,” said McMillon. “We’re looking for people who see Walmart as a chance to earn some extra money and perform a vital service to their community.”

Friday's steps are in addition to last week’s announcement of a new COVID-19 emergency leave policy that provides support to associates if they are impacted by the coronavirus in the following ways:

  1. If they are uncomfortable coming to work right now and choose to stay home
  2. If they are part of mandated quarantines or
  3. If they have a confirmed case of the virus.

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2:57 PM: Q&A: An NMSU economist addresses the economic impact of COVID-19

As the new virus that causes COVID-19 continues to sow economic chaos across the world, longtime New Mexico State University economics professor Chris Erickson warns of an upcoming recession as the pandemic takes hold in the United States. But Erickson, interim head of the Department of Economics, Applied Statistics and International Business in NMSU’s College of Business, predicts a short-lived recession with a speedy recovery.

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2:40 PM: First Dona Ana county case confirmed, testing kits run out Friday, and more

New Mexico state health officials on Friday announced eight additional positive tests for coronavirus, or COVID-19, including the first case in Doña Ana County.

The drive-thru testing site planned for Friday in Las Cruces is closed for the day. Testing began at 9 a.m. at the Las Cruces Public Health Office parking lot and Solano Drive. The New Mexico Department of Health exhausted its allotment of COVID-19 coronavirus tests for Friday by 11 a.m., according to a spokesperson.

Coronavirus in Las Cruces: New Mexico announces arrival of coronavirus test kits

A specialist with the New Mexico State University Extension Family and Consumer Sciences is offering useful tips on how to properly plan for self-isolation during the COVID-19 global pandemic.

The New Mexico Board of Barbers and Cosmetologists is advising hair and nail salons, barbershops and other businesses and schools it regulates to limit the number of professionals and clients in their facilities at one time to 10 people total if they elect to remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As you likely know, all New Mexico restaurants and bars have been directed by the state to switch to takeout and delivery only to slow the spread of the coronavirus sweeping the nation. Many Las Cruces restaurants responded by offering curbside service, and some chose to close. Food delivery services are helping those still in business stay open by offering incentives and discounts.

Meanwhile, Magic Maid Possible, a residential and commercial cleaning service based in Las Cruces, recently announced it will be offering free full house surface disinfecting services to the elderly and the disabled in the community.

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2:33 PM: City: Don’t flush paper towels or wipes

Las Cruces Utilities is urging customers to stop flushing paper towels and disinfectant wipes down the toilet. The items clog drains, back up sewers, and cause issues at sewage treatment plants. Toilet paper is in short supply in some areas due to the high demand caused by the coronavirus situation.

“Whether it’s baby wipes or bathroom wipes, the word ‘flushable’ indicates the strong fiber wipes are supposed to disintegrate before reaching a wastewater treatment facility,” explains John Mrozek, LCU wastewater deputy director. “Instead, wipes arrive intact and often wind themselves into ropes that get tangled into wastewater treatment equipment and can break screens that are intended to filter out larger pieces of debris in the wastewater.”

Stocking up during COVID-19 pandemic?: Here are some tips from NMSU experts

There is a simple solution to the problem: Don’t flush them. Instead, dispose of wipes in the trash and avoid using paper towels as toilet paper.

“The wipes can plug up pumps at lift stations and wastewater treatment facilities, they can damage equipment and clog screens," explained Carlos Almaraz of wastewater operations. "LCU has to bring out the vactor truck to vacuum the wipes out of the system.”

While toilet paper starts disintegrating as soon as it hits the water, the strong-fiber wipes do not break apart and can cause havoc all along the way to the wastewater treatment plants.

Homeowners may not realize service lines from the home into the city sewer are generally only 3 or 4 inches in diameter, with several “elbows” or sharp bends in the service lines, creating smaller places where things might get hung up. This can cause a backup from the sewer into the home.

“There are lots of things that should not be flushed down the drain,” says Mrozek, “Add paper towels and wipes to the list.”

For information, call Las Cruces Utilities at 575-528-3500.

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2:27 PM: FBI warns cybercriminals may exploit concerns surrounding COVID-19

The FBI is reminding the American public to continue exercising smart cyber hygiene in this uncertain time.

Be aware that cyber criminals may exploit concerns surrounding COVID-19 to perpetuate scams designed to steal your money.

By remembering these four tips, you can protect yourself and help stop this criminal activity:

  1. Do not open attachments or click links within emails from senders you don't recognize.
  2. Always verify the information being shared originates from a legitimate source.
  3. Do not provide your logins, financial data or other personal information in response to an email.
  4. Visit websites by manually inputting their domains to your browser.

If you believe you are the victim of an internet scam or want to report suspicious activity, please visit the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.

For more information about the rise in fraud schemes related to COVID-19, go to https://www.ic3.gov/media/2020/200320.aspx.

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Scam artists are finding inspiration in COVID-19, which has some local law enforcement agencies pleading for caution. Hometownlife.com

2:22 PM: County detention center announces free connections for inmates

The Doña Ana County Detention Center announced Friday it has negotiated two free 10-minute calls and one free 30-minute remote video visitation per week, per inmate.

As the center suspends in-person family visits, to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19 in the community, management proactively sought a way to help keep families connected, according to a county news release.

Family members may schedule the free calls and video visits from home, using a laptop or desktop computer, at www.legacyinmate.com/Prepaid. Additional fee-based connections remain available, as well as texting, via www.gettingout.com.

Juvenile detainees will also have access to two free 10-minute phone calls, per week.  That facility lacks video visitation capabilities, the release stated. However, visits with a juvenile detainee can be scheduled by calling 575-647-7680.

Coronavirus in New Mexico: Doña Ana County Detention Center suspending in-house familial visits

Thursday, March 19

4:17 PM: MRVDA implements public health emergency precautions

In response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, the Mesilla Valley Regional Dispatch Authority is instituting the following procedures pursuant to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New Mexico Department of Health:

Lobby access will be restricted to public safety personnel and essential support services personnel. Therefore,

  • All public meetings and training sessions at the MVRDA facility have been canceled.
  • MVRDA personnel will participate in previously scheduled meetings via teleconference.
  • All public tours of the facility have been canceled.
  • Alarm permit or fine payments are requested to be made by mail.
  • Public records will be released by electronic means whenever possible.

These steps will help ensure the safety and health of mission-critical emergency personnel and maintain essential services during this health emergency. Up to date information can be found on the MVRDA website at www.MVRDA.org.

Mesilla Valley Regional Dispatch Authority is the 911 call and public safety dispatch center for Las Cruces, Sunland Park, Mesilla, Hatch, Anthony and Doña Ana County.

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4:02 PM: Three Lush & Lean Workshops and Children’s Water Festival canceled

The Las Cruces Utilities Water Conservation Program announced Thursday it has canceled three Lush and Lean Workshops that were to be held at the Thomas Branigan Memorial Library, which is closed, and the Children’s Water Festival that was to take place April 16.

The following Lush and Lean Workshops are canceled:

  • “Our Local Pollinators: Native Bees, Hummingbirds, and Butterflies” on March 19
  • “Irrigation Design and Controller Programming” on March 26
  • “Fruit Tree Selection, Planting, and Care for Las Cruces” on April 2

The program will follow City of Las Cruces management procedures in possibly continuing the Lush and Lean Workshops scheduled for the end of April. For updates and information, visit http://www.las-cruces.org/1288/Lush-Lean-Workshops. You can reach Las Cruces Utilities at 575-528-3500 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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The new normal?: Concerts, festivals canceled amid coronavirus concerns

1:37 PM: Doña Ana County Detention Center closes lobby to public

The adult facility lobby will be closed to the public, beginning at 5 p.m. Friday, March 20, to further enhance preventive measures and minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19 to the community, staff or detainees, County officials announced Thursday.

Only individuals with court-related business, attorneys, individuals posting cash bonds, or clergy will be allowed to enter the lobby. Individuals who are awaiting a detainee’s release will not be able to wait in the lobby and are encouraged to remain in their vehicle. 

The lobby kiosk for depositing funds into a detainee’s account will be deactivated until further notice. With the detainee’s identification number, funds can be placed into detainee accounts, using one of the following options:

  • Phone: Call 866-345-1884
  • Internet: Visit www.accesscorrections.com
  • Mail cashier's checks or money orders to: Detainee's Name and ID Number (for example, John Smith #20876); Doña Ana County Detention Center; P.O. Box 454; Las Cruces, NM 88004. Only money orders or cashier's checks are accepted at this address. Letters and other items enclosed will be returned to the sender.

More: Doña Ana County awaiting business plan to run triage center ahead of partial April opening

The juvenile facility lobby will have access restricted to a parent or guardian picking up a juvenile who was released. People with previously scheduled visits or court-related business will be escorted in. 

Visits will not be granted to walk-ins. All visits to the Doña Ana County Detention Center must be scheduled in advance by calling 575-647-7680.

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1:19 PM: New Mexico courts extend payment of fines and fees for 30 days

The state Supreme Court on Thursday issued an order extending the payment of fines and fees for 30 days to help financially struggling New Mexicans and reduce the number of people who appear in courthouses to resolve traffic and other cases.

“We understand New Mexicans are facing financial difficulties during this public health emergency and providing more time to pay fines and fees will offer temporary relief,” Chief Justice Judith Nakamura said.

The Supreme Court’s order will add 30 days to the payment deadline imposed by a magistrate, metropolitan, district or municipal court for fines and fees that must be paid between March 19 and May 29, 2020. The extension does not apply to amounts past due. People with questions about their payment deadline should contact the court that imposed the penalties.

The payment extension potentially affects thousands of New Mexicans. About 100,000 traffic cases were filed in magistrate courts statewide and the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court in the 2019 fiscal year.

The public can find information about court operations and coronavirus precautionary measures on the website of the New Mexico judicial branch of government at www.nmcourts.gov and on websites of each of the state’s 13 district courts. Links to district court websites are available from the Judiciary’s home page. 

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1:13 PM: City provides continuous televised COVID-19 coverage

The City of Las Cruces announced Thursday it is dedicating its government access channel, CLC TV, Comcast channel 20, to information about COVID-19 as it impacts the Las Cruces area.

The programming consists of information from the governor’s office, New Mexico Department of Health and other official sources. Information is updated as it becomes available.

The City will continue televising City Council meetings and work sessions live at 1 p.m. on Mondays with rebroadcasts at their regular times. The City will also air at their regular times meetings of the Planning and Zoning Commission, Animal Service Center of the Mesilla Valley, Dona Ana County Commission and Las Cruces School Board. This schedule is subject to change.

All City of Las Cruces news releases are available on the home page of the City website at las-cruces.org under News & Announcements and can be translated into Spanish and multiple other languages using the Select Language feature on the lower right side of the page.

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1:04 PM: ACTion Programs for Animals announces changes

In response to COVID-19 precautions, ACTion Programs for Animals will reduce hours open to the public beginning Saturday, March 21.

The Adoption Center at 800 W. Picacho Ave. will be open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Saturdays for adoptions. Adoptions may also be requested by appointment. To request an appointment, call 575-571-4654, leave a voice/text message at 575-644-0505 or email mail@apalascruces.org. 

APA is implementing a freeze on intakes until this situation is resolved.

APA's Pet Food Bank will open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for pet food bank services.

The Second Chance Thrift Store is closed effective March 19.

APA will monitor the situation and inform everyone when normal operations may resume. The organization announced it will continue to maintain high-standard cleaning practices each day for all dog kennels, cat rooms, thrift store, communal rooms, lobbies, exam rooms, play yards and facilities.

Updates will be available through the organization's Facebook page.

Wednesday, March 18

8:39 PM: Cruces Creatives to temporarily close

Cruces Creatives, at 205 E. Lohman Ave., has decided to temporarily close. The makerspace announced Wednesday it will be monitoring the situation and tentatively plans to reopen April 11. 

Those needing special access to the facility — for example, to retrieve project materials— should send an email to support@crucescreatives.org.

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5:59 PM: White Sands National Park modifies operations

White Sands National Park late Tuesday announced modifications to operations to implement the latest guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, and local and state authorities to promote social distancing.

As of March 18, the visitor center, Western National Parks park store, White Sands Trading Company, is closed until further notice. All park ranger programs and backcountry camping is also canceled until further notice. Where it is possible to adhere to the latest health guidance, Dunes Drive and all hiking trails will remain open.

The National Park Service urges visitors to do their part when visiting a park and to follow CDC guidance to prevent the spread of infectious diseases by maintaining a safe distance between yourself and other groups; washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth; covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze; and most importantly, staying home if you feel sick.

For high-risk populations, such as the elderly and people with underlying conditions, we ask that they take extra caution and follow CDC guidance for those at higher risk of serious illness. 

The public will be notified of any changes, or when full operations resume. For the most current information, visit www.nps.gov/whsa and the park's Facebook page, www.facebook.com/WhiteSandsNPS. Updates about NPS operations will be posted on www.nps.gov/coronavirus.

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5:24 PM: NM Department of Veterans Services Las Cruces office goes appointment-only

The New Mexico Department of Veterans Services announced Wednesday the agency is adjusting its field office operations.

Effective March 19, the Las Cruces field office, at 2024 E. Griggs Ave., will remain open for normal business hours — 8 a.m.-5 p.m. — but will only accept appointment-based meetings with veterans. Those wishing to schedule an appointment should call 575-524-6124 or 575-524-6220.

All outreach visits by DVS Veterans' Service Officers are temporarily suspended and will resume at a later date. For VA benefits, veterans can also file online at www.ebenefits.va.gov.

5:13 PM: City cancels Team Up to Clean Up event

The City of Las Cruces Parks & Recreation Department’s Keep Las Cruces Beautiful announced Wednesday that the District 6 Team Up to Clean Up event scheduled for 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 21, has been canceled and will be rescheduled for a later date.

The City of Las Cruces Solid Waste will still provide a roll-off container at 2834 N. Telshor Blvd, in the former Tee Time parking lot. The container will be in the parking lot at the intersection where Telshor Blvd, Northrise Drive and Del Rey Blvd meet. This service will be available for District 6 residents to utilize from Friday, March 20 to Monday, March 23.

For information, contact Keep Las Cruces Beautiful at 575-528-4506.

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4:39 PM: City closes recreation areas

In an effort to limit large public gatherings, the City of Las Cruces has closed certain parks and recreation areas to reduce the number of people who gather. The following specialty parks were closed and secured with gates:

  • Butterfield Shooting Range
  • Skate Park
  • BMX Track
  • Dog Park
  • RC/Archery Park
  • Athletic Ballfields
  • Tennis/Pickleball Courts

These locations have signs posted with Parks & Recreation Department contact information. As social distancing guidelines become stricter, Parks & Recreation is asking for the public’s understanding that these measures have been put into place to keep person-to-person contact at a minimum.

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4:04 PM: KRWG Public Media to broadcast statewide COVID-19 call-in show

KRWG Public Media has joined with public radio partners across New Mexico to broadcast a statewide call-in show all about the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.

The broadcast can be heard from 1-2 p.m. Thursday, March 19 on KRWG-FM (and broadcast throughout New Mexico through KUNM, KANW, and KENW). You can also listen online at www.krwg.org or watch through KRWG’s Facebook Live page.

“This is a statewide radio broadcast the likes of which have never been done before,” says Adrian Velarde, KRWG Public Media General Manager. “We are in unprecedented times. Our goal is to bring timely information across the state.” 

Hosted by Anthony Moreno, the special guest will be Dr. Michael E. Woods, Ph.D, assistant professor of Physiology and Pathology and director of the BioSciences Research Laboratory at the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine. His research in infectious disease, specifically the Uganda plague, has been recognized with an award in Global Health Achievement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

KRWG Public Media encourages listeners to call in with their COVID-19 questions. The number to call is 888-922-5794 to participate in the program.

3:08 PM: New Mexico reaches 28 coronavirus cases; testing center coming to Las Cruces

Five more COVID-19 testing centers will be brought online soon, including one in Las Cruces, the state's second-largest city. In a Wednesday afternoon press conference, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said the state so far had tested more than 1,700 people, and plans to test an additional 500 Wednesday.

Thus far, the 28 known cases in New Mexico are confined to Bernalillo, Sandoval, Santa Fe, Socorro and Taos counties, but the governor disclosed at the news conference that testing was limited to six sites statewide, with the capacity to run 700 tests per day.

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2:57 PM: ASCMV to stop accepting healthy stray animals

Beginning Thursday, March 19, the Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley will no longer accept healthy stray animals from the public.

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2:43 PM: Doña Ana County Government Center to close

The Doña Ana County Government Center, 845 N. Motel Blvd. will be closed to the public, effective at 5 p.m. on Friday, March 20. However, all departments will continue to provide essential services, the County announced late Tuesday. This action supports an effort to minimize in-person contact.

Community Resources Centers are also closed but will continue to provide meals for seniors.

Public access to County Commission meetings will remain available. However, the public is encouraged to access the live stream.

Employees providing essential services who have a job that requires them to be in the field, such as public safety, utilities workers and road crews will remain active, to meet the community’s needs. Employees who are at high risk for COVID-19 will work from home.

County departments will continue to provide essential services by staffing websites, social media and telephones to minimize in-person contact, county officials said. For additional guidance, please contact the appropriate department, as follows:

  • Assessor’s Office: 575-647-7400
  • Animal Control/Codes Enforcement: MVRDA 575-526-0795, option 6
  • Clerk/Bureau of Elections: See website or call 575-647-7421
  • Community and Constituent Services: 575-915-7710
  • Community Development: 575-647-7350
  • Community Centers: 575-635-7706
  • Dona Ana Sheriff’s Office: 575-525-1911
  • District Attorney’s Office: 575-524-6370
  • Engineering: 575-525-6164
  • Road Section: 575-647-7100
  • Fleet Management: Open
  • Flood Commission: 575-525-5558
  • Health & Human Services Court Compliance: 575-525-5833
  • Human Resources: 575-647-7210
  • Probate Judge: 575-524-6370
  • Santa Teresa Jetport: 575-589-1232
  • Treasurer’s Office: 575-647-7433
  • Utilities: 575-647-7142
  • Vector Control  (Mosquitos): 575-526-8150

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2:30 PM: Tax Policy Advisory Committee meeting available by teleconference

The New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department announced Wednesday the Tax Policy Advisory Committee will hold its second meeting on Monday, March 23.

In line with efforts to minimize the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the meeting will be held by teleconference from 2:30-4:30 p.m. Anyone wishing to listen in can join the teleconference by dialing 1-800-747-5150 and using the passcode 1140.

The committee is scheduled to discuss its work plan for the year.

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2:06 PM: Malls, gyms must close; restaurants now takeout or delivery only

At a news conference Wednesday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced a number of new measures meant to further restrict social contact. Beginning Thursday, all restaurants and bars must switch to takeout and delivery only. Recreational facilities such as shopping malls, gyms, movie theaters and more must close temporarily. Gatherings will be restricted to no more than 10 people, Lujan Grisham said.

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1:56 PM: County Treasurer extends office hours, limits in-person services

Doña Ana County Treasurer Eric L Rodriguez on Wednesday announced his office will extend payment services by phone through 6 p.m. and close in-person services, effective March 23 until further notice, in response to the County’s directive to limit in-person contact.

“We encourage people to use our online and extended phone services hours, during this time,” Rodriguez said. “Limiting in-person contact is part of our preventative measures as we keep our staff and the public’s well-being our primary objective while continuing to provide essential services.”

Restricted in-person payments are expected throughout the second half of the tax season, from April 10 through May 10.

The following convenience payment locations will also close:

  • The Village of Hatch
  • The City of Anthony
  • The City of Sunland Park
  • Lake Section Water Co. in Chaparral

The office is prepared to continue operating without hindering tax collections, Rodriguez said by "working diligently to ensure taxpayers will continue to receive the best service possible, even if it is over the phone.”  

To pay property taxes, please use one of the following options:

  • By phone: 575-647-7433, Toll Free 1-877-827-7200 ext. 7433
  • Online at:www.donaanacounty.org/treasurer/payments
  • By mail: P.O. Box 1179 Las Cruces, NM  88004
  • 24 Hour drop box: In front of the County Government Center
  • Bill pay: This is a service provided by most banks

For questions or service requests, please contact the Treasurer’s Office:

  • Phone: 575-647-7433, Toll Free 1-877-827-7200 ext. 7433
  • Email: taxbill@donaanacounty.org
  • Mail: 845 N Motel Blvd. Las Cruces, NM  88007

Updated information will be provided at www.donaanacounty.org/treasurer.

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1:45 PM: Small businesses qualify for Federal disaster loan help

New Mexico has qualified for a federal disaster loan assistance program aimed at helping small businesses affected by the COVID-19 public health emergency, state officials said Tuesday. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said the Small Business Administration’s loan program is one of several tools that can help businesses.

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1:11 PM: CenturyLink to halt disconnections for 60 days

CenturyLink on Wednesday announced the company will suspend data usage limits, waive late fees, and will not terminate a residential or small business customer’s service for the next 60 days due to financial circumstances associated with COVID-19.

The company said it will adhere to the Federal Communication Commission's “Keep Americans Connected Pledge,” which outlines these actions.

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12:52 PM: Western Athletic Conference announces spring sports canceled

After moving to suspend all remaining winter and spring conference competitions last Thursday due to the ongoing developments related to COVID-19, the Western Athletic Conference announced Wednesday morning the remainder of the 2020 spring sports seasons for each of its member institutions have been canceled. 

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12:39 PM: City expands online COVID-19 Alert Center

The City of Las Cruces announced Wednesday afternoon it has expanded the online COVID-19 Alert Center initiated on March 12 to include a wider range of updated information to help keep residents informed of the latest coronavirus news impacting the Las Cruces area.

Information includes Resources for Small Business/Workers; When to Visit Your Doctor; Resources for Families & Youth, Resources for Senior Citizens and links to the New Mexico Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It also features a newsfeed with the latest information from the governor’s office and NMDOH.

The information is available at COVID19LasCruces.com and can be translated into Spanish and multiple other languages using the "Select Language" tab located in the lower right-hand corner of the site. Visitors can also receive updates by email by clicking "Notify Me" on the right-hand column.

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12:29 PM: Gov. Lujan Grisham confirms five new cases of COVID-19

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announces five new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Mexico, bringing the total to 28 cases statewide.

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NOON: New Mexico asks out-of-state visitors to self-isolate for 14 days

In a public health advisory issued Wednesday morning, the New Mexico Department of Health requested that anyone traveling into New Mexico from outside the state voluntarily isolate themselves for 14 days and watch for symptoms of COVID-19 disease. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has a press conference scheduled at noon, where the latest information will be made available.

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11:20 AM: DA's office to shift to appointment-only

Beginning Monday, March 23, the Doña Ana County Government Center at 845 N. Motel Blvd. will close to the public. The Third Judicial District Attorney’s Office will still offer limited public access.

The District Attorney’s Office will remain open by appointment only, so that it may continue to fulfill its constitutional and statutory duties. All in-person contact will be limited as a precautionary measure to ensure the safety of employees and clients.

Doors will be closed to all general walk-in traffic. Those with questions or business with the office may call 575-524-6370 or 575-647-8553 to set an appointment, speak with an attorney or victim advocate.

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10: 58 AM: Diocese of Las Cruces updates funeral stance

Although the Diocese of Las Cruces announced Monday that funerals would be suspended,  along with most other parish events — including mass — the diocese announced "upon further prayer and reflection," that directive has changed.

Funerals will be celebrated "in a private manner with only the immediate family present," meaning less than 10 people, the diocese reported Tuesday.

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10:29 AM: Make-A-Wish suspends some wishes

Make-A-Wish America announced Wednesday the organization has decided "to postpone all wish travel, as well as wish kid participation in all activities and events related to Make-A-Wish that involve large gatherings (e.g. large scale wish-granting events, theme parks, etc.) until further notice."

On average, 77 percent of wishes involve air travel, according to the organization. Make-A-Wish New Mexico has postponed 12 of the current 119 pending wishes across the state. Nationwide, 970 wishes were immediately impacted, with 30 more wishes estimated to be postponed each day.

Learn more about Make-A-Wish New Mexico at https://newmexico.wish.org/.

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9:43 AM: 

The Las Cruces Police Department announced Tuesday it would reduce working hours for non-essential and civilian employees beginning Wednesday. The change will impact lobby hours at the downtown police station and the East Mesa Public Safety Complex.

On Tuesday, local bars and restaurants were weighing their options as they try to mitigate a public health crisis while also risking economic devastation. The El Paso City Council on Tuesday ordered all bars, taverns, arcades and clubs to close.

GALLERY: Peek inside Las Cruces restaurants amid coronavirus crisis

The New Mexico court system on Tuesday suspended all new criminal jury trials until at least April 30. Meanwhile, all in-house visits to the Doña Ana County Detention Center have been suspended until further notice. Visitation remains open for the Juvenile Detention Center, with restrictions.

And Las Cruces Public Schools Superintendent Karen Trujillo on Tuesday provided updates to the Board of Education about the district's response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Tuesday, March 17

4:27 PM: Town of Mesilla closes Mercado

The Town of Mesilla on Monday announced the Mercado — which takes place from noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays — will be closed until further notice.  

"We understand this is a inconvenience but have decided this is in the best interest for not only our guests but vendors are well," organizers wrote in an email to vendors.

Anyone choosing to set up will be asked by the Mesilla Marshal's Department to leave.

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4:17 PM: Doña Ana County Detention Center suspends in-person visits

All in-house visits to the Doña Ana County Detention Center have been suspended until further notice, county officials announced Tuesday. 

Visitation remains open for the Juvenile Detention Center, with restrictions.

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3:30 PM: Some SCRTD routes impacted

Due to statewide school closures, the South Central Regional Transit District will no longer operate some bus trips while the schools are closed. Early morning trips on the Turquoise and Purple routes will be discontinued until school resumes. SCRTD has increased cleaning and sanitation on all buses.

Up-to-date notices of these and future service changes are available at http://scrtd.org/ or by phone at 575-323-1620.

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3:10 PM: City says tap water remains safe to drink

As Las Crucens rush to stock up on bottled water, City of Las Cruces officials want to assure residents and guests that the City’s water supply is safe and readily available at the tap.

"Each year the City of Las Cruces provides residents with a Consumer Confidence Report explaining where our water supply comes from and details the quality of the water that is delivered to homes and businesses," a Monday news release stated.

Water testing conducted by the New Mexico Environment Department monitors up to 121 potential contaminants. Copies of the CCRs are available in Customer Service at City Hall, the Branigan Library, NMED and New Mexico Department of Health offices, or online at the City’s Water Quality Resources Page.

"Please remember that bottled water will not stop the spread of coronavirus," the release stated. "Individuals are encouraged to wash hands often, cover coughs and sneezes, and to limit person-to-person contact if possible."

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2:52 PM: County Clerk's office limits in-person services

The Doña Ana County Clerk’s Office announced it will limit in-person services, beginning Thursday, March 19, and until further notice.

Businesses with access to the online e-recording and filing portal are directed to use that service. Individuals who do not have access to the online portal who need to record documents may do so via mail or through a vendor who has access.

Business registrations may be completed via mail, and those seeking to apply for a marriage license are encouraged to postpone their application until further notice. Appointments for marriage licenses will only be accepted on a case-by-case basis.

The office's Documents Online tool allows the public to research and request some documents from home. Title companies needing to perform in-person research may also request to do so by appointment only. These requests will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Inquiries related to the Bureau of Elections department can be submitted by email at elections@donaanacounty.org. The completion of statutory tasks related to deadlines for the primary election will continue.

Completed election-related documents — including voter registration forms or absentee applications — may be returned to the County Clerk via a marked, secured, dropbox located outside of the Clerk’s Office. To register, update or change your voter registration or to request an absentee ballot, you may also visit NMVote.org. County information related to the primary election is available at www.dacelections.com

For other questions, the Clerk's Office can be reached at 575-647-7421.

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2:41 PM: Social Security offices close

All local Social Security offices will be closed to the public for in-person service beginning Tuesday, March 17. However, critical services will continue to be provided, according to a news release from the Social Security Administration.

Secure and convenient online services remain available at www.socialsecurity.gov. Local offices will also continue to provide critical services by phone at 1-800-772-1213. SSA will work closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state and local governments, and other experts to monitor COVID-19 to determine when in-person services can safely resume.  

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2:24 PM: New online tool helps track high-risk areas

RS21, a local data science and visualization company, has created a tool to help better understand high-risk populations in New Mexico's three largest cities, including Las Cruces.

The Urban Health Vulnerability Index is designed to help local health planners identify urban populations at high risk for COVID-19, including older adults and people with serious medical conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes and lung disease.

The interactive map can be viewed at covid.rs21.io

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2:12 PM: Community Action Agency closes

The Community Action Agency of Southern New Mexico will be closed to the public until further notice. The agency will attempt to maintain essential services during the closure. However, free tax preparation is suspended until further notice. Please check the agency's Facebook page or call 575-527-8799 for updates.

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1:10 PM: DASO limits in-person services

The Doña Ana Sheriff’s Office announced it will limit in-person services, beginning Thursday, March 19, until further notice. As of Wednesday, March 25, the Las Cruces office at 845 Motel Blvd. will open to the public only on Wednesdays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The department's Anthony Substation will close to the public beginning Thursday, March 19. Please call 575-525-1911 between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, for any nonemergency needs for this location as well as the main station. The department's office staff will continue to serve residents by phone as needed. There will be a charge for copies of reports. 

The changes will be in effect for the foreseeable future, according to Sheriff Kim Stewart.

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12:53 PM: NMDOT closes offices statewide

The New Mexico Department of Transportation announced it has closed its offices to the public for the next few weeks. NMDOT will continue to provide essential services — including road maintenance and construction, according to Transportation Secretary Michael Sandoval. Rest areas will remain open to the public, and cleaning methods and frequency are being increased to minimize public health risks. Some workers have been asked to telework from home in order to limit person-to-person contact and emphasize social distancing but services deemed essential will continue.

In addition to the general office in Santa Fe, all six district offices — as well as the construction and maintenance patrol buildings — will be closed to the public until further notice. The districts will be available to answer questions, provide assistance and process requests, not limited to permit applications. District personnel teleworking from home will respond to all requests through telephone and email.

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12:15 PM: City manager update

The Las Cruces City Council is still interviewing finalists for the city manager position Tuesday amid the coronavirus pandemic. However, two panels have been postponed, a live stream presentation has been canceled and two finalists have dropped out.

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NOON: NMSU president to host virtual town hall Wednesday  

President John Floros and members of the New Mexico State University campus leadership will host a virtual town hall at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 18. President Floros will briefly address the Aggie community and then take questions. Joining him at the town hall will be Carol Parker, Provost; Luis Cifuentes, Office of Research; Renay Scott, Student Success; Andrew Burke, Administration and Finance; Katrina Doolittle, Environmental Health, Safety and Risk Management; Lori McKee, Aggie Health and Wellness Center; Gena Jones, Human Resource Services; and Justin Bannister, Marketing and Communications. Questions can be emailed in advance to president.floros@nmsu.edu.

The webinar is limited to 1,000 connections. Please practice social distancing. If you connect in a location with others, please limit your group to fewer than 10 individuals.

Webinar Link: https://nmsu.zoom.us/j/806462615

iPhone one-tap: US: +16699006833,,806462615# or +13462487799,,806462615#

Or telephone: Dial (for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):

US: +1 669 900 6833 or +1 346 248 7799 or +1 301 715 8592 or +1 312 626 6799 or +1 929 205 6099 or +1 253 215 8782

Webinar ID: 806 462 615

International numbers available: https://nmsu.zoom.us/u/abTTYuQwCl

Or an H.323/SIP room system:

H.323: 

162.255.37.11 (US West)

162.255.36.11 (US East)

For information, call 575-646-2127

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11:31 AM

The New Mexico Department of Health announced two more confirmed cases of coronavirus, or COVID-19, on Tuesday morning, bringing New Mexico's total to 23.

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11:18 AM

The George Lopez show scheduled for March 20 at Inn of the Mountain Gods has been postponed until July 18, 2020.

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10:51 AM

Allen Theatres has announced it's closing though April 1, following what movie theaters are doing across the nation.

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10:01 AM

Las Crucens won't have to worry about late utility bills during the coronavirus crisis, one of several measures meant to help residents and businesses affected by the situation. Those wishing to pay their Las Cruces Utilities may still do so in person at City Hall, the East Mesa Customer Service Center, and other locations around town. 

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6 a.m.

Dollar General is encouraging stores to dedicate the first hour of each shopping day to senior citizen shoppers. 

Monday, March 16

Sunday, March 15

Saturday, March 14

Stay tuned to links to stories published earlier than March 14.

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