A MESSAGE FROM COMMISSIONER COLLIE:
IMPORTANT INFORMATION & UPDATES:
On March 23, 2020, New Mexico Department of Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel announced a new public health emergency order effective at 8 a.m. Tuesday, March 24, closing all businesses and nonprofit entities except for those deemed essential, and further restricting mass gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
All New Mexicans must immediately heed the directive to stay home except to maintain continuity of functions critical to public health and safety.
Read the Executive Order here.
See the full list of what businesses and services are deemed essential here.
Find the below FAQs online here.
Q: When should I leave my house?
A: You may leave your home for these reasons:
- If you work for an “essential business”
- If your job is part of essential government services that cannot be conducted through telework (the latest order does not change this)
- To conduct “necessary activities” – obtaining medicine or seeing a doctor, purchasing necessary supplies such as groceries and personal hygiene products, picking up educational supplies from your child’s school or providing necessary care and supplies to family members in another household.
- You may leave your house to take a walk, or jog, or to walk the dog. But you may not do these things in groups. And you should limit your time outside to only what is essential.
Q: What’s open?
A: Essential businesses and nonprofits, as defined in the order, will remain open. These include:
- Gas stations
- Food providers: Grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, convenience stores, school meal distribution sites and restaurants (but only for delivery and take-out).
- Laundromats/laundry services
- Farms, ranches and other food cultivation operations
- Essential state and local government functions, including law enforcement and emergency management services
- Homeless shelters
- Health care operations
- Child care facilities necessary to provide services to workers employed by essential businesses and essential non-profit entities.
- Essential state and local government functions, including law enforcement and emergency management services
- U.S. government and military installations
The full list is available here.
Q: Are there additional closings because of this order?
A: Yes. If a business does not fall under one of the “essential” categories, employees must either telework or it must suspend operations.
Q: The new order revises what’s considered a prohibited mass gathering. What’s the new rule?
A: This order defines a mass gathering as any public or private gathering that brings together five or more individuals in a single room or connected space or an outdoor space where people are within 6 feet of each other.
Q: Are there any exemptions to the 5-or-more rule?
A: Yes. If five or more people live together, they are exempt inside their residence. Also exempt are churches, synagogues, mosques or other places of worship.
Q: What’s closed?
- Entertainment venues
- Gyms and fitness studios
- Public events and gatherings
- Convention centers
- Hair and nail salons
- Casinos and horse-racing facilities
Q: How long will this order be in place?
A: This order is in place through 8 a.m. April 10, 2020, unless otherwise amended.
Q: What about government services?
A: This order does not change the status of state and local government operations. Previous orders exempted all persons necessary to maintain the operations of state and local governments. State government has already moved to a largely telework system; local government agencies are strongly encouraged to do the same.
Q: Is there a curfew associated with the order?
Q: My employer has asked me to come to work at a non-essential business – what do I do?
A: The main line at newmexico.gov, 833-551-0518, will soon have a reporting mechanism to report non-compliance to the state.
SCHOOLS AND CHILD CARE
Q: My school is providing free grab-and-go meals, instructional materials and supplies, and child care. Are those still open?
Q: Are child care services still open? Can my babysitter still come to the house?
A: Yes. Child care facilities necessary to provide services to workers employed by essential businesses and nonprofit entities may continue to operate. Child care services are also available to serve families with young children when the parents are involved with protective services, behavioral health and/or juvenile justice services.
Child care facilities that remain open must employ heightened cleaning and distancing requirements; guidance will be released shortly.
Babysitters may travel to homes to care for the children of parents working in essential sectors.
Q: Can I go to the park?
A: No, you should not.
Q: Will public roads be closed?
A: No. All streets, roads and highways will remain open.
Q: What about public transportation?
A: Public transportation is considered an essential service; it will continue to operate.
Q: How does the order affect people who are homeless?
A: Previous orders exempted those who are homeless, and that has not changed. Like everyone, they are encouraged to practice social distancing of at least 6 feet.
Services that provide for the homeless, like shelters, may remain open.
Q: Can I still get my mail and deliveries?
A: Yes. You will still be able to get mail and other deliveries at your home. Mail is considered an essential government function, and businesses that deliver goods or services directly to residences are considered essential businesses.
HEALTH CARE AND HELPING SICK RELATIVES
Q: Can I visit loved ones in the hospital, nursing home, skilled nursing facility, or other residential care facility?
A: The Department of Health’s March 13, 2020, public health order states that visitors are only allowed at nursing homes and other facilities that care for seniors if they are receiving end-of-life care and the visitor meets certain conditions (i.e. temperature taken at the entrance).
Many hospitals are implementing modified visitation policies at this time. Check with the specific hospital location about what the policy is at this time.
Q: Since health care is a necessary activity, may I keep my appointment for an eye exam or a dental cleaning?
A: Non-essential medical care like eye exams, teeth cleaning and elective procedures should be postponed. If possible, health care visits should be done remotely.
Q: May I still go out to get my prescriptions?
A: Yes. Pharmacies remain open, as do medical marijuana dispensaries.
Q: Can I leave home to care for family members or friends who have disabilities, or who require assistance to care for themselves?
A: Yes. Be sure that you protect them and yourself by following social distancing guidelines such as washing hands before and after, using hand sanitizer, maintaining at least 6 feet of distance when possible, and coughing or sneezing into your elbow or a tissue and then washing your hands. If you have any symptoms of a cold, however, please stay away.
Q: Can I still go outside for a hike or walk?
Yes, but you must maintain a distance of at least 6 feet with those outside of your family unit.
Gyms, fitness centers, recreational centers, golf courses, swimming pools and skating rinks are all closed.
New Mexico State Parks have been temporarily closed to protect public health.
Q: Can I walk my dog? Take my pet to the vet?
A: You may walk your dog. You may also take your pet to the vet; emergency veterinary services are exempt from the orders.
Q: Have any other states done this?
A: Yes. As of Sunday, March 22, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, New York, New Jersey, Ohio and Illinois had issued similar orders.
CDC has reported:
• 33,404 confirmed and presumptive positive cases of COVID-19
• 400 COVID-19-related deaths
• All 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands have reported cases of COVID-19.MAIN KEY POINTS –
• On March 16, 2020 President Trump and the White House Coronavirus Task Force issued new guidelines to help protect Americans during the Coronavirus pandemic.
• The initiative, called 15 Days to Slow the Spread, lays out guidelines for a nationwide effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. It calls for the implementation of measures to increase social distancing between people at all levels of society.
• This is a massive proactive, preventive response to COVID-19. It aims to slow the spread and blunt the impact of this disease on the United States.
• All segments of U.S. society have a role to play at this time:
• People across the country are asked to stay home as much as much as possible and otherwise practice social distancing.
• This includes canceling or postponing gatherings of more than 10 people and closing schools in some areas as determined by local and state governments.
• It also includes special measures to protect those people who are most vulnerable to this disease.
• Older people and people with severe chronic conditions should take special precautions because they are at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness.
• If you are a healthcare provider, use your judgement to determine if a patient has signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19 and whether the patient should be tested. Factors to consider, in addition to clinical symptoms, may include:
• Does the patient have recent travel from an affected area?
• Has the patient been in close contact with someone with COVID-19 or patients with pneumonia of unknown cause?
• Does the patient reside in an area where there has been community spread of COVID-19?
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham authorized emergency funds for the Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) to assist in relief efforts during the statewide public health emergency and school closures. An additional $750,000 is now available to New Mexico families for assistance with child care provider costs. To apply, complete the application and submit to CYFD. Click here for questions and more information.
If you would like to volunteer, please email ALTSD-Volunteers@state.nm.us,
Subject Line: Ready to Help, identify your city/town, and your phone number. The department will be in touch if/when volunteers are needed to mobilize a donation drop-off center.
In the event that school is directed to remain closed longer than the current three week closure, Albuquerque Public Schools is asking for the support of our area elected officials and communities to help create individual, at-home supply kits for our students. In APS, we have 36,808 students in Kindergarten through Fifth Grade.
● APS is teaming with KNME-New Mexico PBS to create broadcasts of teacher lessons, which will begin broadcasting on April 6, 2020 (the end of the current three week closure)
● Lesson plan broadcast schedule will be available soon
● Students will be able to pick up supplementary packets for the lessons at grab and go meal distribution sites
● Starting April 6, individual school supply kits could also be distributed to students at grab and go meal distribution sites
For K-5 learning at home, to accompany teacher lessons on KNME-New Mexico PBS, we suggest individually packed kits for students to include:
- Graph paper
- 1 ream of white paper
- Pencil sharpener
- Lined paper or spiral notebook
- Manuscript paper (K-3 penmanship practice paper)
- Composition books (Grades 4-5)
- Playing cards (new only) for math instruction game support
Other items to have available for students may include:
coloring books—--puzzles—–games– board games (ex: Monopoly) or—— card games (ex: Uno)——--flash cards (math or vocabulary)
If you can create one or more individually bundled packages, or want to donate individual supplies on the list or other fun learning suggestions, please deliver to:
912 Oak St SE- Building M (South of Milne Stadium)
Monday through Friday
Rhubarb & Elliot
Rhubarb and Elliot is committed to making sure everyone in the community has access to nutritious food. They are donating one meal for every meal purchased. If you know of a vulnerable person in your community you’d like to receive a free meal, please contact them directly to arrange delivery.
Visit Albuquerque is tracking business and event updates and sharing them with the community as we receive notifications.
Please see the following pages for more information:
Visit Albuquerque will make daily updates to these pages to ensure they are as comprehensive as possible.
They also invite their Partners to submit additional information for inclusion on our lists.
Book Review: The Plague by Albert Camus
What We Can Learn (and Should Unlearn) From Albert Camus’s The Plague
Liesl Schillinger on Catastrophe, Contagion, and the Human Condition
By Liesl Schillinger, March 13, 2020
Usually a question like this is theoretical: What would it be like to find your town, your state, your country, shut off from the rest of the world, its citizens confined to their homes, as a contagion spreads, infecting thousands, and subjecting thousands more to quarantine? How would you cope if an epidemic disrupted daily life, closing schools, packing hospitals, and putting social gatherings, sporting events and concerts, conferences, festivals and travel plans on indefinite hold?
In 1947, when he was 34, Albert Camus, the Algerian-born French writer (he would win the Nobel Prize for Literature ten years later, and die in a car crash three years after that) provided an astonishingly detailed and penetrating answer to these questions in his novel The Plague. The book chronicles the abrupt arrival and slow departure of a fictional outbreak of bubonic plague to the Algerian coastal town of Oran in the month of April, sometime in the 1940s. Once it has settled in, the epidemic lingers, roiling the lives and minds of the town’s inhabitants until the following February, when it leaves as quickly and unaccountably as it came, “slinking back to the obscure lair from which it had stealthily emerged.”
Camus shows how easy it is to mistake an epidemic for an annoyance.
Whether or not you’ve read The Plague, the book demands reading, or rereading, at this tense national and international moment, as a new disease, COVID-19, caused by a novel form of coronavirus, sweeps the globe. Since the novel coronavirus emerged late last year in the Chinese city of Wuhan (the city has been in lockdown since January), it has has gone on the march, invading more than a hundred countries, panicking populations and financial markets and putting cities, regions, and one entire country, Italy, under quarantine. This week, workplaces, schools and colleges have closed or gone online in many American towns; events have been canceled; and non-essential travel has been prohibited. The epidemic has been upgraded to pandemic. You may find yourself with more time to read than usual. Camus’s novel has fresh relevance and urgency—and lessons to give.
Be assured, before you take up this book, that however fearful COVID-19 may be, it is nowhere near as destructive as Camus’s plague. In the 14th century, the bubonic plague, also known as the “Black Death” killed almost a third of the people on the continent of Europe. When it rampaged through London in 1656 and 1657, it killed nearly a quarter of the population. In case you didn’t know, the bubonic plague still exists today, not only in pockets of Asia and Africa, but in the American Southwest. It’s transmitted by fleas from infected rodents, and causes high fever, vomiting and painful swellings called “buboes” (hence the name “bubonic). Even when treated with antibiotics it has a death rate of 10 percent; and if untreated, up to 90 percent. Coronavirus is not remotely like that.
When Camus wrote this novel, there was no epidemic of plague in Oran. Still, it had decimated the city in the 16th century and the 17th. (There was a monthlong outbreak in Oran in 2003.) But while The Plague quite literally and clinically relays the symptoms and consequences of that disease, the bacillus under the author’s lens is not so much physiological as sociological, and philosophical. Although his novel tracks the progression of a specific epidemic in a specific city, country and time frame, Camus’s true subject lies outside of time and place.
His intent is metaphorical: he addresses any contagion that might overtake any society; from a disease like cholera, the Spanish Influenza, AIDS, SARS, or, yes, COVID-19; to a corrosive ideology, like Fascism, or Totalitarianism, which can infect a whole population. Camus had seen the Nazis overrun Paris in 1940 during World War II. While he was writing The Plague, he was the editor in chief of Combat, the underground magazine of the French Resistance, whose contributors included André Malraux, Jean-Paul Sartre and Raymond Aron. He saw a connection between physical and psychological infection, which his book sutures together.
As the story begins, rats are lurching out of Oran’s shadows, first one-by-one, then in “batches,” grotesquely expiring on landings or in the street. The first to encounter this phenomenon is a local doctor named Rieux, who summons his concierge, Michel, to deal with the nuisance, and is startled when Michel is “outraged,” rather than disgusted. Michel is convinced that young “scallywags” must have planted the vermin in his hallway as a prank. Like Michel, most of Oran’s citizens misinterpret the early “bewildering portents,” missing their broader significance. For a time, the only action they take is denouncing the local sanitation department and complaining about the authorities. “In this respect our townsfolk were like everybody else, wrapped up in themselves,” the narrator reflects. “They were humanists: they disbelieved in pestilences.” Camus shows how easy it is to mistake an epidemic for an annoyance.
But then Michel falls sick and dies. As Rieux treats him, he recognizes the telltale signs of plague, but at first persuades himself that, “The public mustn’t be alarmed, that wouldn’t do at all.” Oran’s bureaucrats agree. The Prefect (like a mayor or governor, in colonial Algeria) “personally is convinced that it’s a false alarm.” A low-level bureaucrat, Richard, insists the disease must not be identified officially as plague, but should be referred to merely as “a special type of fever.” But as the pace and number of deaths increases, Rieux rejects the euphemism, and the town’s leaders are forced to take action.
Authorities are liable to minimize the threat of an epidemic, Camus suggests, until the evidence becomes undeniable that underreaction is more dangerous than overreaction. Most people share that tendency, he writes, it’s a universal human frailty: “Everybody knows that pestilences have a way of recurring in the world; yet somehow we find it hard to believe in ones that crash down on our heads from a blue sky.”
Soon the city gates are closed and quarantines are imposed, cutting off the inhabitants of Oran from each other and from the outside world. “The first thing that plague brought to our town was exile,” the narrator notes. A journalist named Rambert, stuck in Oran after the gates close, begs Rieux for a certificate of health so he can get back to his wife in Paris, but Rieux cannot help him. “There are thousands of people placed as you are in this town,” he says. Like Rambert, the citizens soon sense the pointlessness of dwelling on their personal plights, because the plague erases the “uniqueness of each man’s life” even as it heightens each person’s awareness of his vulnerability and powerlessness to plan for the future.
This catastrophe is collective: “a feeling normally as individual as the ache of separation from those one loves suddenly became a feeling in which all shared alike,” Camus writes. This ache, along with fear, becomes “the greatest affliction of the long period of exile that lay ahead.” Anyone who lately has had to cancel a business trip, a class, a party, a dinner, a vacation, or a reunion with a loved one, can feel the justice of Camus’s emphasis on the emotional fallout of a time of plague: feelings of isolation, fear, and loss of agency. It is this, “the history of what the normal historian passes over,” that his novel records, and which the novel coronavirus is now inscribing on current civic life.
“A feeling normally as individual as the ache of separation from those one loves suddenly became a feeling in which all shared alike,” Camus writes.
If you read The Plague long ago, perhaps for a college class, you likely were struck most by the physical torments that Camus’s narrator dispassionately but viscerally describes. Perhaps you paid more attention to the buboes and the lime pits than to the narrator’s depiction of the “hectic exaltation” of the ordinary people trapped in the epidemic’s bubble, who fought their sense of isolation by dressing up, strolling aimlessly along Oran’s boulevards; and splashing out at restaurants, poised to flee should a fellow diner fall ill, caught up in “the frantic desire for life that thrives in the heart of every great calamity”: the comfort of community. The townspeople of Oran did not have the recourse that today’s global citizens have, in whatever town: to seek community in virtual reality. As the present pandemic settles in and lingers in this digital age, it applies a vivid new filter to Camus’s acute vision of the emotional backdrop of contagion.
Today, the exile and isolation of Plague 2.0 are acquiring their own shadings, their own characteristics, recoloring Camus’s portrait. As we walk along our streets, go to the grocery, we reflexively adopt the precautionary habits social media recommends: washing our hands; substituting rueful, grinning shrugs for handshakes; and practicing “social distancing.” We can do our work remotely to avoid infecting others or being infected; we can shun parties, concerts and restaurants, and order in from Seamless. But for how long? Camus knew the answer: we can’t know.
Like the men and women who lived in a time of disruption almost a century ago, whom Camus reimagined to illustrate his ineradicable theme, all we can know is that this disruption will not last forever. It will go, “unaccountably,” when it pleases. And one day, others will emerge. When they do, his novel warned long ago, and shows us even more clearly now, we must take care to read the “bewildering portents” correctly. “There have been as many plagues as wars in history,” Camus writes. “Yet always plagues and wars take people equally by surprise.”
For more book reviews and reading recommendations go to: