Please do not panic. That’s the message from Socorro’s Mayor Ravi Bhasker on the coronavirus.
During Monday night's Socorro City Council meeting, Bhasker said there had been no confirmed cases of the Coronavirus in the city of Socorro. And as of Monday night, there has been no evidence of “community spread.”
Nonetheless, the city has closed Finley Gym and the Socorro Public Library until further notice. In addition, there will be no Easter Egg hunt this year, and barrel racing at the Socorro Rodeo Complex will be limited to less than 25 individuals. Plus, the city's annual fishing derby set for the first week in April also has been canceled.
If you need to come to Socorro city hall to make a payment on a bill, Bhasker suggests that residents call before coming to City Hall. He also recommends residents who can pay their bill on the internet or drop off their payment in the dropbox outside city hall.
As a doctor, Bhasker urges residents to stay informed and follow the advice of their health care provider, your public health authorities on the state and national level, as well as your employer on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
Through the city’s “robocall" system, it will provide updates and information as it receives it. To receive the notifications, please long on to https://www.socorronm.gov/community-alert-and-messaging-sign-up/.
The County of Socorro is conducting business, but with strict precautions. County Manager Michael Hawkes said, "We are doing business, but if you can conduct business over the phone or internet, please do so. And if you've traveled lately, please refrain from coming in."
He said county office doors will be closed and most will be locked with personnel standing by waiting to assist people.
In addition, “a list of contact phone numbers will be displayed on the door regarding who you can contact by phone to answer your questions,” Hawkes said. “County offices will make appointments if business must be conducted in person.”
Otherwise, “you may be asked to use a hand sanitizer and put gloves on and to maintain social distancing of six feet or more and if you have to wait in the hall or near a county office, please do not congregate, as social distancing is imperative.”
Before and after business is conducted, office personnel will practice non-contagion spreading by sanitizing door knobs and handles, as wells as wiping surface areas on equipment or furniture.
He emphasized practicing hygiene and social distancing of six feet.
“We’ve shut down visitations to the detention center. As well as non-essential ancillary services in those facilities that we were allowing before," he said. "We’re trying to put together a task force if this gets worse. We’re working with the City and the hospital.”
County employees were sent home early last Friday.
“We closed county offices closed at noon last Friday to give employees with children a little extra time to make arrangements in light of the extra two weeks schools will not be in session,” Hawkes said. “Also, we are well aware that there are several families within Socorro County that rely upon school meals for nutritional needs for their children. Therefore, we are developing a cost estimate of possibly providing curbside pick-up meals for those families needing support for their children.”
According to Gail Tripp, Socorro County Emergency Manager, Socorro County will be serving breakfast and lunch for students K-12 Mondays through Fridays at the Senior Center on Ake Street from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. It will be curbside only.
In San Antonio, breakfast and lunch will be dispensed curbside at San Antonio Elementary School over the next three weeks Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
In addition, Socorro General Hospital will be providing a small lunch from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and a snack from 1:30 to 3 p.m. to youth 18-and-younger through the period.
This includes curbside for senior citizens at the Centers in Magdalena and Veguita.
“The state is supplying us with enough to cover our senior’s needs,” Hawkes said.
San Miguel Church is temporarily suspending regular services.
Santa Fe Diocese Archbishop John Wester has asked parishes across central and northern New Mexico to suspend the public celebration of Mass and other services.
“We urge all priests to continue celebrating the incomparable sacrifice and gift of the Mass at a pre-determined time each Sunday and even each day so that the souls in their care may join themselves spiritually to the Mass even in absentia,” the directive said. “All are urged to read at least the Mass readings of the day and to meditate on them with their families and friends, praying for a quick end to our current situation and for the welfare of all.”
San Miguel Parish pastor Father John Anasiudu has planned to celebrate Mass at 5 p.m. every Saturday until the suspension is lifted. He asks that families and friends gather at their homes each Saturday at 5 p.m. and join him as he celebrates Mass in absence of the congregation.
The Diocese has also instructed the Easter Chimayo and the Tome Hill group pilgrimages to be postponed.
Socorro School District
Socorro Consolidated School District has issued guidelines.
• Students will report back to school on April 6 unless the state decides differently. Students will not have to make these days up, so the schedules for graduation and end of the year activities should remain the same.
• Meals will be provided for students at each school site from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. as “grab and go” meals starting the week after spring break. People will not be allowed to stay on site to eat the meals to prevent any transmission.
• Student-athlete practices are suspended until further notice. We will keep you apprised of any decisions by NMAA as they are given to us.
• We are working with the city and the county to provide any other help we can during this time. As decisions are made, we will pass them on.
School staff will all be working during these two weeks, so we will all be here to address needs.
In Magdalena, Mayor Richard Rumpf said regular village services would not be interrupted.
“We’ve got hand sanitizers at Village Hall for people who come to the clerk’s counter,” Rumpf said.
He said the Magdalena Public Library would continue having regular hours.
As of Monday, Magdalena Municipal School District has closed its facilities to the public. The use of the weight room, Fine Arts Center, and other facilities are suspended until further notice.
Grab and go lunch bags will be available Mondays through Thursdays from 9:30-11:30 a.m. in the Magdalena school cafeteria. Also in Alamo from 9:30-10:30 a.m. from the Magdalena School Suburban parked at the Alamo baseball field.
Superintendent Glenn Haven said in a message to parents that the suspension of classes will be in effect through Thursday, April 2. In addition, travel restrictions have been adopted.
"Magdalena Municipal School District has prohibited any out-of-state school-related travel for employees and students," Haven said. "As part of this order, all travel is highly discouraged, and families are asked to practice social isolation, which means all families should not leave their homes, if at all possible. This will be the most important containment measure to prevent the spread of the disease."
The risk of infection is based on exposure, Haven said. He encourages staff and students to stay home if sick.
“Do not return until you have been fever-free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medications,” he said. “You will help prevent others from catching your illness.”
Magdalena’s Principal Leslie Clark encourages parents and guardians of students to help continue the student’s learning while the school is closed.
“There are many simple things you can do for children of any age,” Clark says. You can give them spelling words, quiz them on their multiplication tables, and have them read a newspaper or magazine article. And talk with them about it … ask their opinion.”
Haven said to contact the Magdalena Schools if a household member of a person connected with the school tests positive or has a presumptive test outcome. The family should contact our school nurse Holly Hagy at 575-854-8030 or an administrator at 854-8001.
• Magdalena Community Church will continue to hold services every Sunday as long as ample distance can be maintained.
• Magdalena Samaritan Center will continue food distribution on Thursday's 10 a.m. to noon.
Due to the public health emergency, restrictions have changed on social gatherings in order to limit the incidence of COVID-19 in New Mexico.
The directive was issued Monday that all restaurants, bars, breweries, eateries and other food establishments cannot operate at greater than 50 percent of maximum occupancy and no greater than 50 percent of seating capacity. Also, tables and booths may not seat more than six people, and all occupied tables and booths must be separated by at least six feet. Patrons may not be seated at bars, and standing patrons will not be served.
"We must limit public gatherings to limit the spread of this virus," New Mexico Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel said. "Bars and restaurants are no exception. We want New Mexicans to stay home to the greatest extent possible. That kind of social distancing is our best strategy for reducing the risks to New Mexico."
The public health order prohibits gatherings of 100 or more but includes specific exemptions for shelters, retail or grocery stores, courthouses, correction and detention facilities, and hospitals, among others.
The order defines mass gatherings as events that bring together 100 or more people in a single room or connected space like auditoriums, stadiums, arenas, conference centers, and theaters.
The amended order also clarifies that all casinos and horse racing facilities must close until April 10. This provision does not apply to casinos operating on tribal lands.