COVID-19 UPDATES

UPDATES ON PUBLIC HEALTH ORDER - May 15, 2020

On Friday, May 15, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham provided further information regarding the amended public health order and many of the changes we expect to take place come May 16.

One of the major announcements that came from the Governor’s update was information on sector-specific COVID-Safe Practices, or CSPs. The Governor’s Office has identified universal CSPs for all businesses to adhere to, but there are sector-specific CSPs that tourism businesses must also follow in order to comply with the public health order and offer service to guests in a safe and responsible manner. Sector-specific CSPs along with the master document are listed below:

Complete document

CSPs - All Employers

CSPs - Hotels, Resorts and Lodging

CSPs - Tour Operators

*CSPs - Restaurants

CSPs - Retail

CSPs - Golf Courses

CSPs for other sectors of the tourism industry, such as events, casinos, museums and entertainment venues, will be published at a later date.

*Although restaurant CSPs are included in the master document, they are not yet permitted to operate dine-in service per the public health order. CSPs for restaurants were included in these guidelines to provide restaurant owners with advance notice so they can make the proper preparations for when restaurants are allowed to open.

Click here for COVID-Safe Practices for Individuals and Employers

All Together NM Fund awarding $750K in grants

May 8, 2020

Money to help micro businesses affected by COVID-19 

The All Together NM Fund will be awarding $750,000 for grants to help New Mexico’s smallest businesses survive the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding will be divided among four New Mexico nonprofit organizations that will award and administer grants of up to $5,000 for businesses with five employees or fewer. “Business relief from the federal government has been scattered, and far too much of what was first available went to large businesses. Many micro businesses in New Mexico and elsewhere didn’t get a fair shake,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said. “So thank you to the All Together NM Fund for reaching out and reaching in to support as many micro businesses as we can. No doubt that’s going to make an incredible difference,” she said. The nonprofits that will administer the grants are:

  • WESST
  • Rio Grande Community Development Corp
  • NM Community Capital
  • DreamSpring

“They were chosen because together they already serve micro businesses across the state and know who and where they are,” said Randy Royster, president and CEO of the Albuquerque Community Foundation who has been spearheading this aspect of the All Together NM Fund grantmaking. Micro businesses with existing relationships with one of the four nonprofits will receive guidance from the nonprofit about how to apply. Micro businesses seeking more information on the grant process should contact one of the nonprofits directly. “We’re committed to getting as much money as possible out to all the counties. We should not end up seeing a significant portion going to the larger population centers,” Royster added. The smallest businesses to qualify will be those operated by the owner plus one employee. Recipients will use the grants to make payroll or to buy needed materials. “The whole idea is we want to positively affect small businesses, especially those owned by women and people of color, that are employing people,” Royster said. “We’re really looking to help vulnerable businesses that are not likely to survive without this infusion of capital.” The New Mexico Coalition of Community Foundations started the All Together NM Fund in March to help New Mexico meet immediate needs during the COVID-19 pandemic and offer long-term support for the recovery work that lies ahead. The many donors who made these grants possible include:

  • Stanley E. Fulton Family Foundation
  • McKinnon Family Foundation
  • Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico
  • Intel Foundation
  • Pattern Energy
  • Blattner Energy, Inc
  • Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association
  • Illinois #3 Foundation
  • RALI New Mexico
  • PhRMA
  • Virgin Galactic
  • Isora Foundation
  • Comcast
  • Swire Coca Cola
  • Daniels Foundation

The Santa Fe Community Foundation is the fund’s administrator.
Donations to the fund are tax-deductible and can be made through the website, www.AllTogetherNM.org or:

  • Donors may contribute gifts of stock, property and electronic fund transfers by calling the Santa Fe Community Foundation at 505-988-9715 ext. 7006.
  • Gifts by check can be mailed to the Santa Fe Community Foundation, PO Box 1827, Santa Fe, NM 87504. Please note “All Together NM Fund” on the check itself.
  • Text “together” to (505) 333-4714 to give.

https://www.newmexico.gov/2020/05/08/all-together-nm-fund-awarding-750k-in-grants/ 

May 6, 2020

Retailers, businesses shall require employees to wear face coverings
Employers, public need to be prepared for reopening

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Tuesday urged business owners to begin preparing for the first phase of reopening New Mexico while the state continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Department of Health Secretary Kathyleen Kunkel has amended the state public health emergency order clarifying some of the steps businesses must take in order to operate.

  • Beginning Wednesday, May 6, all large grocery and large retail spaces (those greater than 50,000 square feet in size) and all restaurants currently operating curbside and delivery service will be required to ensure that all employees have at least cloth face coverings.
  • All employees must wear their face coverings in the workplace at all times when in the presence of others.
  • Beginning Monday, May 11, all essential businesses of any size currently operating under the public health order must also comply with the face covering requirement.
  • All employers are strongly encouraged to acquire the face coverings for all employees over the next week, in preparation for a potential Phase One reopening in mid-May. Otherwise they may not be able to operate in compliance with state requirements.
  • Retailers will not be required to provide face coverings for customers but are encouraged to post signage strongly encouraging customers to wear their own masks. Retailers at their own discretion may require customers to wear masks.

The administration last week issued a set of COVID-safe practices for all employers and an additional set for all retailers (see attached). Other COVID-safe requirements and best practices specific to other industries are under development.

The governor last week extended her stay-at home order to May 15, with modifications allowing some limited, additional retail and recreational opportunities. Further reopening will depend on businesses and individuals doing their part to keep their neighbors safe in order to meet gating criteria.

“If New Mexicans don’t behave safely, we won’t be able to reopen more than we have. Every single one of us has to do their part,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. 

More info at: https://www.newmexico.gov

May 2, 2020

New Mexico enters “Preparation Phase” for safe reopening 

New Mexico state leadership on Thursday announced the extension of the state’s emergency public health order through May 15 as the COVID-19 pandemic remains a grave risk to residents of all ages and in all communities across New Mexico.

Click here for details on the order from the State.

May 1, 2020

Lenders in New Mexico Looking for SBA Loan Customers

Lenders in New Mexico are still able to help businesses with loan applications for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Economic Development Department Cabinet Secretary Alicia J. Keyes said today.

As of April 29, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has approved over 960,000 loans in the second round of the PPP. The dollar value of those loans was $90 billion, with smaller banks accounting for 587,000 loans or 61 percent of the volume.

The average loan size for round 2 of the Paycheck Protection Program is $95,000 compared with $206,000 in the first round of the program, according to the SBA’s New Mexico Office.

Following the initial approval of $349 billion for the Program, the U.S. Congress appropriated another $310 billion last week. As part of that bill, a certain percent of the money was reserved for small banks and community lenders. And applications opened again on April 27.

During a webinar Friday afternoon with the EDD Cabinet Secretary Alicia J. Keyes, U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-New Mexico, said there was about $200 billion left for PPP loans, “but this will go quickly.”

Rep. Lujan added that nearly all the community banks and credit unions in New Mexico “have completely cleared their backlog, and most of the community lenders are soliciting new loan applications and taking on new customers.”

“There are still lenders in New Mexico that have lending capacity. Especially among the community banks and federal credit unions,” said John Garcia, New Mexico District Director for the U.S. Small Business Administration.

“For New Mexico to have a full recovery we need businesses to be healthy,” Secretary Keyes said. “I would urge any businesses who have not yet applied for SBA assistance, to do so.”

For SBA program information go to SBA.GOV
For a list of qualified SBA lenders in the state go to the EDD COVID-19 Resources page or click here.
For information on all the state and federal emergency economic assistance, go to the EDD website, GoNM.biz
For comprehensive statewide information on the COVID-19 health emergency, visit NEWMEXICO.GOV.

April 30, 2020

ATTENTION BUSINESS OWNERS

​​Town of Taos wants to hear from you. Please take a few moments to provide feedback on how to safely and successfully reopen the Taos economy. 

TAKE SURVEY

April 27, 2020

Grant Opportunity: Family Stability

Sandia National Labs’ current grant opportunity is intended to support non-profit organizations that are helping families in crisis provide and sustain a stable home environment, especially for families with children. Programs should demonstrate sustainable improvement and where applicable, partnerships with other organizations to create efficiencies and avoid duplication of services. Priority will be given to programs that address: 1. Hunger relief services; 2. Short or long-term housing; 3. Workforce development serving under-employed populations. 4. Services and wrap-around support for children/families who are experiencing a temporary crisis. Deadline: May 8, 6:00 PM. Apply online at SHARE New Mexico.

https://sharenm.org/nm-grants 

Grant Opportunity: USDA Farmers to Families Food Box

USDA just released on Friday an RFP for a food box program to procure $3 billion nationwide in "food boxes" for families in need, addressing food supply chain and emergency food relief needs resulting from COVID-19. Applications are due at 1.00 pm Eastern/11:00 am Mountain time this Friday, May 1.

The program and application for bids is intended for any entity that can procure food, assemble the food boxes, and manage the distribution of the boxes to the target end-users, this includes (but is not limited to) farmers, food processors, and food distributors who can source, assemble, and deliver food boxes for partner non-profit organizations, food banks, and food pantries that are serving individuals and families in need during this pandemic. Depending on their capacity, other capable entities like farmer cooperatives, farmers market operators, schools, and even restaurants can apply.

USDA is encouraging farmers, food processors, distributors, and other entities of all sizes to submit proposals, regardless of whether their supply and distribution scope is large or small. The proposal evaluation process will prioritize applicants who can demonstrate established relationships with emergency food relief partner organizations, a supply network of local and U.S. food producers, and who can provide boxes of eligible food items that are fresh, varied, and healthy.

https://www.ams.usda.gov/selling-food-to-usda/farmers-to-families-food-box 

Education: Online, Out-of-School and At Home

On March 16th, Governor Lujan Grisham announced that schools would shift to a learn-at-home model for the rest of the academic year. Each School District and public charter school was instructed to develop a Continuous Learning Plan that meets the needs of their community.

Internet access will be an issue for many families in New Mexico. Staff and students may lack the resources to connect remotely. So far, over 400 internet providers have signed the FCC’s "Keep Americans Connected Pledge" to not terminate service to any customers because of their inability to pay their bills and to waive late fees that customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic. These companies also have agreed to open their Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them. Information about several of these options is available here.

Cynthia Nava, former superintendent of Gadsden Public Schools and a board member of New Mexico First, calls on New Mexicans to step up and “take control of the situation. We need to be innovative and agile in reaching our kids even if we don’t do it through traditional means. The goal remains the same: for our students to have rich and robust academic progress that will enable them to learn and thrive. We have an opportunity right now to reexamine what we’ve been doing and creatively respond to children’s needs.”

Traci Curry, speaking for New Mexico Agriculture in the Classroom (NMAIC), agrees that “we’re all educators … it takes a village to educate our children.” NMAIC is helping teachers work with families to take stock of the materials students have at home. One teacher had planned for her students to grow something from seed. NMAIC worked with her to make that part of the lesson. Teachers and families together could organize a seed hunt to find seeds already in the house, such as beans or seeds from apples. Or parents could go outside with the children and ask, “Where do we find seeds? Where do seeds come from?”

Numerous sites have learning activities that can be done at home, with or without access to the internet. The New Mexican Out-of-School-Time Network (NMOST) has a list of lists for educational activities at home.

https://nmost.org/educational-activities-home 

What About Food?

It’s a fact of New Mexican life that many of our students rely on school for their meals. Before COVID-19 shut down our schools on March 12th, New Mexico was on track to serve more than 13,500,000 school breakfasts and 19,500, 000 school lunches to low-income students. So how are our students getting these meals?

In response to the Governor’s directive, school districts throughout the state developed food distribution plans. These meals are distributed on a “grab and go” basis at food sites in every school district. However, specific dates, times, sites, and other details differ for each school district. The NM Out-of-School-Time Network is keeping an updated list of pick-up sites, day, times, and details. Some school districts are opting to deliver food to students along established bus routes. The page also has links to Roadrunner Food Bank special distribution sites and to Presbyterian Free Healthy Meals for Kids.

https://nmost.org/fighting-hunger-through-ost 

Out-of-School Time Programs are Taking Care of Kids

Many out-of-school time programs have been forced to cancel programming for the duration of the emergency closures. But this doesn’t mean that these organizations are sitting on the sidelines. Some are applying to serve as emergency childcare centers, providing childcare for children of essential workers. For more information, click here.

Other out-of-school time programs are working with their school districts to add pick-up food sites for families. Moving Arts Española, an out-of-school time program, was forced to close its programming for the remainder of the Spring semester. Roger Montoya, Moving Art’s Artistic Director, quickly organized the Northern New Mexico Emergency Food Network, which includes nine other organizations focused on providing food and necessities to those in need. The purpose of the network is to work together in serving the community while reducing overlap and waste of resources. The organization is partnering with the Española Public Schools to be a curbside pick-up site for breakfast and lunch. Breakfast can be picked up at 8:00 am and lunch by noon, Monday- Friday. Also, Moving Arts is serving hot vegetarian suppers. These are also for pickup only and can be picked up at Moving Arts Espanola between 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm Monday- Friday.

http://www.newmexicokids.org/coronavirus/providers.php 

Resources for Families

Families aren’t just learning how to home school. Many are also holding down jobs, either working in or outside the home; figuring out how to safely take care of essential activities like shopping or keeping up with health care, including vaccinations, paying the bills; dealing with frustrations and fears. Ngage New Mexico, home of the Doña Ana County, prenatal to career, SUCCESS Partnership education initiative, is offering a series of webinars for caregivers in English and Spanish. Register to watch them on-demand.

Apoyando a los Niños Durante la Pandemia del Virus Corona. Register
Creating Effective Home Learning Environments Register

http://www.ngagenm.org/ 

A Tip for Parents and Families

Parents and families are the first and most important teachers in children’s lives. While partnerships with school personnel and staff are vital resources for families and communities, those who are parenting children during this pandemic and trying to juggle many other responsibilities are feeling stressed. It’s perhaps time to remind ourselves that we serve our children, ourselves and our families best by building from family’s strengths. The catch: there’s nothing like a crisis to make it hard to see strengths.

Positive Parenting is an approach to parenting that focuses on relationships rather than challenging behaviors. It is normal during this time for children of all ages to revisit developmental milestones that you thought they’d outgrown. This is a natural and normal response to stress. If you have questions or concerns about your child’s behaviors and how best to support their social and emotional health, please contact your pediatrician or family physician. The American Academy of Pediatrics has also published helpful tips. Many of these may affirm what you’re already doing, so keep at it! You might also find some new and helpful ideas. Be gentle with yourself and your children. These are trying times. Lilly Irvin-Vitela, President and Executive Director provided the parent and family tips. Connect with Lilly at lilly@nmfirst.org.

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/family-dynamics/communication-discipline/Pages/Positive-Parenting-and-COVID-19_10-Tips.aspx 

April 27, 2020

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will resume accepting applications at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, April 27. The state is urging business owners who still need assistance to get application materials to lenders so they can file early on Monday.

The next phase of the CARES Act has passed Congress and was signed into law by the President on Friday, April 24. It allocates an additional $310 billion into the PPP small-business assistance program. One of the big changes in the program is that a portion of those dollars are earmarked to community lenders in rural areas and credit unions.

Funds for the first round of PPP were depleted with record demand. Approximately 1.6 million businesses nationwide were approved for assistance with 8,277 businesses in New Mexico approved for $1.4 billion from PPP.

But many businesses were not able to apply by the time the applications closed.

“We know there are businesses in New Mexico that were not able to submit their applications and are still waiting for assistance,” Cabinet Secretary Keyes said. “This is another opportunity, and we urge business owners to get with a lender and file as early as possible when the SBA begins taking applications again on Monday morning.”

A list of approved participating lenders can be found here. DreamSpring and the LiftFund are non-profit Community Development Financial Institutions and also are available to process PPP applications and accept new customers.

The Economic Development Department hosted a webinar on Friday, April 24 along with the SBA and New Mexico Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to discuss how to apply to the program and answer questions about accessing the funding.

The presentations were provided in English and Spanish. Go here to view the webinars:

The SBDC has many resources, provides daily online trainings, and is able to answer technical assistance questions about the PPP and other SBA program: nmsbdc.org.

The webinar also made clear that sole proprietors as well as non-profit businesses and organizations qualify for the PPP.

For information on all the state and federal emergency economic assistance, go to the EDD website, GoNM.biz

April 15, 2020

Applications Open for BizSprint Accelerator
Special BizSprint cohort addressing COVID-19 challenges to focus on online marketing and branding

Arrowhead Center at New Mexico State University, with support from New Mexico Gas Company and the New Mexico Economic Development Department (EDD), is offering a BizSprint accelerator program online and free of charge.

Participating businesses will receive mentoring, coaching, and micro-grants that can be applied towards business development.

  • Applications are due April 20, 2020
  • Participation is free (microgrants for participant support will be awarded upon completion of BizSprint)
  • Classes will be virtual and will be held on Saturdays from May 2 through June 20 .

Businesses will also receive assistance in marketing, branding, and website creation as well as help with boosting an internet footprint.

Program graduates gain access to follow-up support and continued mentorship through Arrowhead Ventures, as well as funding opportunities and resources to access during the COVID-19 health emergency.

Businesses at any stage are urged to apply.

"Arrowhead is excited to offer our BizSprint accelerator early this year,” Dana Catron, Director of Strategic Operations at Arrowhead Center said. “Given the strain and challenges our New Mexico businesses are facing at this unprecedented time, we designed this cohort to provide the real-time support they need now and during the recovery phase.”

Arrowhead Center is one of seven business incubator facilities certified by the New Mexico Economic Development Department in a program created in statute in 2005.

For information about the program, please forward your inquiry to Dana Catron, Director of Strategic Operations, at dderego@ad.nmsu.edu or call 505.469.8411.

APRIL 7, 2020

Public Health Order Amendment - Effective April 7 at 8:00 am

On Monday, April 6, 2020, the New Mexico Department of Health amended the Public Health Emergency Order clarifying that current guidance documents, advisories and emergency public health orders remain in effect; and amending the March 23, 2020, Public Health Emergency Order closing all businesses and non-profit entities except for those deemed essential and providing additional restrictions on mass gatherings due to COVID-19 be extended to April 30, 2020. Please click here to view the amended Public Health Emergency Order dated April 6, 2020, in its entirety.

APRIL 6, 2020

Quick links

· SBA Resource Guide
· NM SBDCs
· NMEDD Regional Reps
· DWS COVID-19 Response Page
· Governor Lujan Grisham’s COVID-19 Response Page

Upcoming webinar

New Mexico Economic Development Department COVID-19 Response: Update on Community Development Resources
Monday, April 13, 11-12:30
Register HERE

N.M. small businesses urged to apply quickly for federal stimulus loans

New Mexico small businesses in financial distress due to the coronavirus crisis are encouraged to apply as soon as possible for loans made available under the federal stimulus bill.

The stimulus bill, or Cares Act, allocates $349 billion for loans to small businesses. But businesses have until only June 30 to access the money, and loans will be made on a first-come, first-serve basis.

“This money will go quickly, and New Mexico small businesses must act as soon as possible to obtain loans,” Economic Development Secretary Alicia Keyes said Saturday. “Many businesses struggling through this crisis need a financial bridge to help them survive and recover once this crisis eases.”

There are two loan programs for small businesses under the stimulus bill: the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program and the Paycheck Protection Program.

Under the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, a small business can borrow up to $2 million, with an immediate grant advance up to $10,000 that can distributed in three days to a business.

Small businesses can apply for the loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/

Applications also can be made through the SBA’s Small Business Development Centers. There are 19 centers in New Mexico, and they offer instruction and guidance on how to apply for the loans. The website for the centers is www.nmsbdc.org

Under the Paycheck Protection Program, a small business can borrow up to $10 million, with an interest rate of 1 percent. The loan is deferrable for six months.

The SBA will forgive Paycheck Protection Program loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest or utilities. A small business must work through its lender to apply for a loan. For more information, go to www.sba.gov/paycheckprotection

In addition to the loans made available under the stimulus bill, the New Mexico Economic Development Department also has created loan-guarantee and no-interest loan programs for businesses. For more information, go to https://gonm.biz/

APRIL 2, 2020

Proclamation of Civil Emergency

Notice of Public Curfew effective Thursday, April 2, 2020 from 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM, daily.

By order of the Mayor of the Town of Taos, and as ratified by the Town Council, a State of Health and Civil Emergency is hereby declared and a nightly curfew is put in place for the hours of 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM each day with in the Town limits until further notice. Read full text of the proclamation here.

COVID-19 Resources and Tips for Businesses, Organizations and Workers

State Loans, Federal Loans and more.

MARCH 26, 2020 UPDATE

A cross-agency collaborative called the Economic Rapid Response Taskforce has been formed representing the Economic Development Department, Workforce Solutions and the Tourism Department who are working directly with the Office of the Governor.

The following announcement is from the Economic Rapid Response Taskforce and all information can also be found at: newmexico.gov in the “Jobs and Economy” section.

UNEMPLOYMENT: 

Unemployment Insurance Benefits Expanded for COVID-19

Eligibility for unemployment benefits extended to workers whose hours are reduced or who are laid off, including due to temporary business closures, because of the COVID-19 public health emergency. Under a previously announced emergency provision to the Unemployment Insurance (UI) rules, the work search requirement for affected workers has been waived for up to four weeks by the Department of Workforce Solutions. This allows employees at businesses that close temporarily to access benefits without having to search for a new position while they wait for their employers to restart operations.

Online by going to the New Mexico Workforce Connection Online System at www.jobs.state.nm.us. By phone at 1-877-664-6984

LOAN PROGRAMS:

Small Business Administration - Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) (Federal)

New Mexico is one of the first states to be approved for the SBA’s $50 billion disaster loan assistance program. Disaster loan assistance will be available for businesses in all 33 counties. Press release issued 3/17/20.

SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance.

The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses without credit available elsewhere; businesses with credit available elsewhere are not eligible (request for financial forms to make assessment of cash flow and asset). The interest rate is 2.75% for non-profits.

Long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years.

Website: SBA.gov/disaster. 1-800-659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov

Expected processing time: 2 - 3 weeks followed by 5 days for first disbursement

COVID-19 Business Loan Guarantee Program

The New Mexico Economic Development Department (NMEDD) has created a program to assist businesses seeking emergency loans or lines of credit to deal with negative economic impacts from COVID-19. NMEDD can guarantee a portion of a loan or line of credit up to 80% of principal or $50,000. Loan proceeds are flexible and can be used for (and not limited to) the following: working capital, inventory and payroll.

Lenders and borrowers can apply here. Or Download a PDF version of the application.

Contact: Johanna Nelson, Johanna.Nelson@state.nm.us or 505.469.6204.

LEDA Zero-Percent Interest Loans

Limited to expenditures for land, building and infrastructure

Can be used for lease abatement or mortgage assistance.

Company must be a qualified entity (manufacturer, non-retail service business with more than 50% of revenue generated out of state, or a retail business in a community of less than 15,000 in population).

All loans will be required to provide security equal to the amount of the loan.

Contact: Mark Roper, Mark.Roper@state.nm.us or 575.562.0327

MISCELLANEOUS:

Personal Income and Payroll Tax Extension

New Mexicans now have an extra 90 days to file and pay their 2019 personal income taxes in recognition of the economic hardships many are facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Taxpayers will have until July 15 to file and pay any taxes due.

The deadline for 2019 corporate income taxes also will be extended until July 15. In addition, the state is extending deadlines for employers to remit withholding taxes.

For more information, please visit the Tax and Revenue Department’s fact sheet here.

Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Paid Family Leave (Federal)

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act expands access to emergency paid sick leave to as many as 87 million U.S. workers, and extends paid family leave to ensure that workers can care for their children without sacrificing their paycheck. Many of these workers currently have no paid leave and are being forced to choose between their paycheck, their health, and the health of the people around them. This is a critical step toward protecting families’ financial security and mitigating the spread of the coronavirus.

Sick Leave: full-time employees are entitled to two weeks (80 hours) of fully paid time off (up to $511 per day) to self-quarantine, seek a diagnosis or preventive care, or receive treatment for COVID-19.

Family Leave: Eligible full-time employees and part-time employees are entitled to 12 weeks of job-protected leave to take care for their children in the event of a school closure or their child care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19.

Eligibility:

Employees at companies with fewer than 500 employees

State and local government employees and certain federal government employees

Employees who work under a multi-employer collective agreement and whose employers pay into a multi-employer plan

Full fact sheet from House Appropriations here.

MARCH 26, 2020

UPDATED DISTRICT WORK PERIOD PACKET: Updated Materials on The Two Enacted Coronavirus Bills, Plus Resources for Constituents on Coronavirus

From the Office of Congressman Ben Ray Lujan

This updated packet includes updated materials on the provisions of the two bills that House Democrats have taken a leadership role in already getting written and enacted by Congress in response to the coronavirus pandemic: the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

The packet also includes useful resources for constituents from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regarding the coronavirus.

Finally, the packet includes suggestions for virtual events and social media suggestions for Member offices, including a Resource Kit, prepared by the Office of Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), on holding a Telephone Town Hall on the coronavirus.

Click here to review.

MARCH 25, 2020

Preserving personal protection equipment is goal of two new health orders

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Wednesday announced two public health orders that will protect New Mexico’s supply of the personal protective equipment health care workers need to stay safe during the COVID-19 crisis.

One order prohibits non-essential health services, defined as services that can be delayed for three months without undue risk to the patient’s health. Eliminating non-essential medical procedures will slow the use of personal protective gear. Read it here.

The second order prohibits health care providers and wholesale medical suppliers from selling or otherwise distributing personal protective equipment without prior approval from the New Mexico Department of Health. Read it here.

MARCH 24, 2020 UPDATE

A community update from Mayor Dan Barrone.

https://youtu.be/RN8ODVivIB8

MARCH 24, 2020

The state Supreme Court has ordered a temporary moratorium on evictions for inability to pay rent during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

“New Mexicans are struggling financially as workplaces close because of the public health emergency,” said Chief Justice Judith K. Nakamura. “The Court’s order will provide temporary relief for families and individuals facing the possibly of losing their housing at a time when the governor and public health officials have ordered New Mexicans to remain at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

Under the Court’s order, judges will stay the execution of writs of restitution that property owners can obtain and give to law enforcement to force the removal of a tenant.

If your landlord has filed a petition for a writ of restitution (an eviction or collection proceeding) against you for nonpayment of rent or any other reason you must participate in the hearing set by the judge.  If you want the court to stay your eviction for NONPAYMENT OF RENT, you will need to provide the judge with evidence of your current inability to pay your rent at the hearing on the petition.  

The hearing will be held by video or phone, unless the parties file a motion for an in-person hearing.  The summons you receive from the court will give you directions about how to participate in the hearing.

If you would like assistance with your eviction proceeding please contact:

  • Senior Citizens Law Office - (505) 265-2300
  • New Mexico Legal Aid - (505) 633-6694
  • United South Broadway - (505) 764-8867

The Supreme Court’s order is the latest restriction and precautionary measure imposed on operations of state courts to protect public safety and safeguard the health of New Mexicans. Other measures provide New Mexican additional time to pay fines and fees, require the use of audio and video teleconferencing for court proceedings that need to continue and allow self-represented litigants to submit case filings to local courts by email and fax to help them avoid courthouse visits.

For more information about COVID-19 updates and the courts, please visit the NM Courts website.

MARCH 23, 2020 UPDATE

Public Health Emergency Order Closing All Businesses and Non-Profit Entities Except for those Deemed Essential and Providing Additional Restrictions on Mass Gathering Due to COVID-19

Read entire Public Health Order.

MARCH 23, 2020

National Forests in NM To Close Developed Recreation Sites

Visitors Still Welcome for recreation opportunities that support social distancing. https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/carson/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD714957

The five national forests in New Mexico, including the Carson National Forest, will begin the orderly closure of developed recreation sites as early as Monday, March 23, to protect public health and safety and align with state and local measures already in place to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. Read More

MARCH 20, 2020

Check out a time lapse map of the expansion of the virus in the United States:
U.S. Spread of COVID-19 Map

Created to visually demonstrate to U.S. citizens the rapidly expanding nature of the COVID-19 virus so individuals and organizations will take to heart the warnings, precautions, and preventive measures requested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others in the medical and Public Health sectors

MARCH 19, 2020

As the country enters into a new era with the COVID-19, another door opens for scammers who are willing to take advantage of you and your pocketbook. The scams are rampant with more on the way as people, institutions and governments become more economically disadvantaged.

The easiest vehicle for scammers is through email and the internet, though some are coming through text messages. The distribution method will continue to grow, most likely expanding into social media and other marketing sites. Everyone needs to take a moment and examine all electronic correspondences to verify they are legitimate and appear to be authentic. Take the time to look at the sender’s information and the source. When unsure, don’t respond even if it appears to be someone you think you may know. Choose another avenue to get in touch with those contacting you and don’t respond or open the email you just received. 

Some of the more common scams you may see are as follows:

  1. CDC alerts. Cybercriminals send phishing emails designed to look like they are from the U.S. Center for Disease Control. The email might falsely claim to link to a list of coronavirus cases in your area. “You are immediately advised to go through the cases above for safety hazard,” the text of one phishing email reads.
  1. Health advice emails. Phishers send out emails that offer purported medical advice to help protect you against the coronavirus. The emails might claim to be from medical experts near Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus outbreak began. “This little measure can save you,” the phishing email may say. “Use the link below to download Safety Measures.”
  1. Workplace policy emails. Cybercriminals may target employees’ email or home accounts. The phishing email begins something like this, “All, due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Town of Taos is actively taking safety precautions by instituting a Communicable Disease Management Policy.” If you click on the fake company policy, you’ll download malicious software.
  1. Smart phone apps. Last week, a malicious Android app called CovidLock claimed to help users chart the spread of the virus. Instead, it led to a slew of Android phones being locked and held for ransom by hackers.
  1. Social media. Random Facebook groups offering supposed home cures for COVID-19, long Twitter threads from self-appointed health experts and cleverly designed websites -- there are dozens of ways misinformation can lure unsuspecting victims into a position of vulnerability. While it can be hard to sort the solid information from the scam-baiting, here are a couple of ways:
    1. By clicking the "about" section of a Facebook group, you can see whether that group has changed its name multiple times to reflect new national crises -- a sure sign that the group is trawling for an audience rather than promoting reliable news.
    2. Keep an eye on official sources on Twitter, including the accounts of trusted news sites and their news reporters, and avoiding political operatives where possible.
    3. If a site claims to be an official government publication, check the URL to see if it ends in “.gov.”

In general DO NOT click on any link(s) you are unfamiliar with as you don’t know what or where it may take you even if it looks legitimate. Disregard the email and seek an alternate avenue for the information you seek. Obtain COVID-19 information from trusted sights such as:

As always take safeguards to protect yourself and your critical information. It’s a big internet out there and someone wants your hard earned money or personal information. Don’t give them the opportunity to take it from you!

MARCH 18, 2020

State agencies encouraging take-out, delivery options at restaurants

During this difficult time for New Mexico restaurants and food establishments, the New Mexico Departments of Economic Development and Environment are encouraging New Mexicans to patronize local eateries by utilizing home and curbside delivery and take-out options as much as possible to minimize contact with others.

“Communities must step up for our local New Mexico businesses,” said Economic Development Department Cabinet Secretary Alicia Keyes. “New Mexicans can both help mitigate the transmission of COVID-19 and support these local businesses by choosing take-out over dining in.”
“The standing advice from experts is to avoid groups of people if possible,” said Environment Department Cabinet Secretary James Kenney. “By using delivery or takeout options, you are minimizing contact with others, a critical tool for preventing the spread of COVID-19.”

The departments also strongly encourage restaurants to actively promote their carry-out options and those that don’t currently offer carry-out options to consider doing so. The New Mexico Environment Department Food Program regulates restaurants and food establishments in the state, with the exception of those in Bernalillo County and Albuquerque.

The latest information about COVID-19 in New Mexico is available at https://www.newmexico.gov.

MARCH 17, 2020

On Friday, March 13, the Town of Taos passed a Resolution declaring a Health Emergency and activating its Emergency Management Team to deal with the COVID-19  / Novel Coronavirus.

Our goal is to protect the health of every employee, volunteer, visitor and all of our constituents. Toward that goal we are implementing a series of measures to create a safe workspace for each employee and the public and instituting policies and practices based on the best available health information that we think will keep us all safe. 

Based on the Resolution, the Town of Taos Pandemic Continuity of Operations Plan, Pandemic Action Plan, and 

Executive Order of the Governor and State Director of Health, the following actions have been taken that the public should be aware of:

  • All non-essential facilities of the Town that involve significant interaction with the public that we are unable to assure complete health safety will be closed. As of today, this includes: Taos Youth & Family Center, Taos Library, Taos Visitor Center and the Guadalupe Gym. 
  • Public access to Town Hall will be limited to the front lobby from 8 am to Noon and 1 pm to 4 pm, Monday through Friday. All business will be conducted through the Utility Billing counter. If you need to meet with staff, please call that department in advance and schedule an appointment. All public business will be conducted outside of Town Hall.
  • All business with the Town, where possible, will be conducted electronically. Please contact us by phone, email or on-line through our website. We will provide instructions on how to access forms or get your completed paperwork to us. Many forms, requests for records, accessing meetings, etc. can be done from our website at taosgov.com.
  • All Town public events, trainings and meetings and any events, trainings and meetings planned to be held in or on Town property are hereby cancelled until further notice. If your group has not been notified yet or you have questions, please contact our Special Events Department.
  • Town Council, Planning Commission, Historic Preservation Commission and all other Town public meetings for March are cancelled and will be rescheduled. Meetings will only be held when absolutely necessary and will be conducted as teleconferences conducted by staff with a public call-in and live real-time streaming capability for public participation. These will continue to be accessed from our website under the “Agendas” link on the front page of taosgov.com.
  • Our partners at Taos Air and Taos Ski Valley have closed operations for the year. Taos Air summer service has been cancelled for now. A NM State Health representative will be greeting all private and charter incoming flights from out-of-state.
  • The state has issued an Executive Order by the Governor and State Health Department that bans all gatherings of over 100 people. The Town will enforce this order.
  • Eateries and bars shall operate at no greater than 50% of their maximum occupancy and to reduce their hours to not later than 10 pm. Live entertainment for dancing or listening is, therefore, discouraged, regardless of audience size. Food establishments and bars are encouraged to adapt to serving carryout orders through pick-up and drive through windows. The Town’s Marketing, Code and Planning Departments will work with you to make that 
  • happen and to help get the word out.
  • Non-essential businesses are encouraged to weigh the economic hardship versus the health benefit of closing for at least the next 30 days. We will be contacting businesses in the next week with additional information.
  • The Town has activated its public safety Emergency Management Team to monitor the health crises and to recommend additional actions to protect public safety, assist local businesses and to maintain the local economy and the Mayor and Town Manager have been given the authority to be able to rapidly respond to the crises by implementing recommendations of the Team and such measures as are deemed necessary to maintain the health, welfare and safety of the public during this crises, including relaxing codes and regulations to assist local businesses and to provide public assistance.

Avoid social gatherings.
Wash your hands frequently.
Avoid non-essential travel.
Stay home.
We are all in this together!

MARCH 16, 2020

On Friday, March 13, 2020, Town Council passed Resolution 2010, “Declaration of Health Emergency for the Town of Taos” that is consistent with the World Health Organization, the Federal Government, and the Governor of the State of New Mexico. Please click here to view Resolution 20-10 in its entirety. 

The Declaration authorized the following:

  • The Mayor and Town Manager to conduct emergency measures.
  • The Town Emergency Management Team was activated to update the Town of Taos Pandemic Continuity of Operations Plan and the recommended COVID-19 Action Plan.
  • All Town public events, trainings and meetings of the Town or planned to be held on Town property or in Town facilities are hereby cancelled until further notice, with the status to be reviewed every 30 days.
  • That all out-of-state travel or trainings for Town business are hereby cancelled, with the status of this prohibition to be reviewed every 30 days.
  • That all non-essential facilities of the Town that involve significant interaction with the public will be closed to be reviewed every 30 days.  At this time the Youth & Family Center, the Town Library, Visitor Center and the Guadalupe Gym are closed.
  • The Finance Director will establish an emergency account in the amount of $900,000.
  • The Town will apply for any and all available Federal and State emergency funding.

In addition, access to offices in Town Hall is now restricted. All services should be accessed by phone and email or an appointment made in advance. All services may still be accessed through the front desk in the Lobby, just inside the entrance. This area is closed daily from noon to 1pm and closes at 4pm.

COVID-19 / NOVEL CORONAVIRUS RESOURCES

CORONAVIRUS HEALTH HOTLINE
1-855-600-3453
For HEALTH related questions.

CORONAVIRUS INFO HOTLINE
1-833-551-0518
For questions relating to school closures, job issues, etc.

NMDOH / New Mexico Department of Health Coronavirus Micorsite
cv.nmhealth.org
Public resource for all things COVID-19.

CDC / Center for Disease Control and Prevention
coronavirus.gov

WHO/ World Health Organization
who.int/emergencies