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AZTEC — The cities in San Juan County are taking steps to make sure federal funding reaches people who need it in the community.

The Aztec City Commission approved a resolution on March 24 declaring a public health emergency. Meanwhile, the Bloomfield City Council ratified San Juan County’s declaration on March 23 and the Farmington City Council ratified both the county’s declaration and a declaration signed by the mayor last week when it met on March 24.

These declarations came as a response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Farmington Mayor Nate Duckett described the declarations as a process of dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s to make sure the emergency assistance funds reach the community. He emphasized that it does not increase the city’s power.

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Meanwhile, the city leaders are encouraging people to abide by state orders and avoid going out in public as much as possible.

“It’s important that we have a singular message as a collective,” Duckett said in a video released on March 25.

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In the video, as well as in the council meeting, Duckett said people need to minimize human-to-human contact to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

Duckett encouraged people who need assistance to call the United Way hotline at 2-1-1.

During the council meeting, Duckett encouraged people to take a deep breath and to make the best of the current situation.

“This is a temporary situation," Duckett said. "It will be a small blip on our timeline here on the Earth.”

Farmington City Councilor Linda Rodgers thanked community members for the outpouring of donations, including people sewing masks and restaurants offering discounts to first responders.

“I’ve really seen us come together as a community and it’s really impressive,” she said.

Bloomfield City Councilor Matt Pennington urged people to check on their neighbors and make sure they have what they need.

The city governments had to adjust their normal meeting formats due to the coronavirus.

Farmington reserved a couple of seats inside the council chambers as well as in the lobby for members of the public. These seats were positioned to maintain at least six feet of distance in between people. Duckett was the sole elected official physically present at the meeting. The four city councilors participated by calling in to the meeting.

Duckett said the city hopes to have a more interactive format for its next meeting that will allow members of the public to make comments without being present in the council chambers.

Bloomfield asked people to call in to participate in the meeting. This did allow for public comment.

The Aztec City Commission had two commissioners participate via webcam and streamed it on YouTube, however the audio did not come through on the livestream. City Manager Steve Mueller verified that the commission had approved the declaration of public health emergency.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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