Story by E.C. McRoy

COVID-19 commonly known as the coronavirus has arrived in New Mexico, but Mayor Tim Keller said that the city is ready and has been preparing for the arrival of the virus for several weeks.

Mayor Keller said that it is the city’s responsibility “to answer this call to action by continuing our operations that the public relies on every day.”

Keller said that those City facilities that are frequented by the public are scheduled for regular and additional cleanings.

Currently, public services and offices are running normally; the City will update the public with developments moving forward, said Keller.

Albuquerque will be following the same guidelines as the NCAA in regards to athletic events and public events will be reviewed to determine if postponement or cancellation will be necessary, according to Keller.

The City has activated the City Emergency Operations Center and Joint Information Center as a means of handling the response to the virus, said Keller.

Public safety is a priority for the City, said Keller, and public safety services and first responders are prepared to take care of the local response.

“[Albuquerque is] participating in national networks of emergency medical providers … to share information, expertise, and knowledge,” said Keller.

Keller said that the City is banning out of state travel for employees when it is unnecessary and those who are able are encouraged to telecommute.

COVID-19 is spread person-to-person via coughs or sneezes and has similar outward symptoms to the flu including fever, coughing, and respiratory problems, said Keller.

“It is critical that anyone experiencing symptoms [of COVID-19] not go straight to doctors or hospitals,” said Keller as this could compromise medical resources.

Keller also stated that 911 continues to be an emergency number and those with non-emergencies who are experiencing symptoms should call the New Mexico Department of Health at 855-600-3453.

The public is encouraged to stay home if sick, avoid large events, and for individuals to their hands, said Keller, but is important to be reasonable.

Hoarding supplies such as soap, food, and other basic goods is “inappropriate and detrimental” to handling the crisis, said Keller.

“Stigma and xenophobia will drive suspected cases underground and aid the further spread of the virus,” said Keller. “Coronavirus does not discriminate based on race, ethnicity, or any other demographic factors, and neither should we.”

Keller said that we should “show compassion and support” instead of discrimination.

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