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City Reports Additional 72 Positive COVID Cases at Westside Emergency Housing Center

City is working with the state and nonprofit partners to prevent further spread

Oct. 11, 2020

The City of Albuquerque today is reporting an additional 72 COVID-19 cases at the Westside Emergency Housing Center (WEHC). The 72 additional positives reported today bring the total number of positives at the WEHC to 93. The first positive cases were reported in April.

“Through coordinated efforts with our partners at the state and nonprofit organizations, we were able to move swiftly to ensure every individual who tested positive or has come in contact with a person who tested positive is in a safe location and receiving the support they need as they recover,” stated Roger Ebner, Director of the Office of Emergency Management. “We will implement our response plan to ensure those who are healthy remain so.”

Since March when the first positive COVID-19 case was detected in New Mexico, the City of Albuquerque established a working group with partner agencies to develop and implement plans to care for individuals experiencing homelessness. Under the guidance of Dr. Laura Chanchien Parajón of UNM Health Sciences Center, the City is screening every individual seeking to utilize the WEHC by taking temperatures and answering questions related to any recent symptoms. Anyone experiencing symptoms, exposed to someone with COVID, or traveled from a high-risk area is immediately placed in isolation or quarantine and administered a COVID-19 test. Those who end up having a positive test continue their isolation in a non-congregate hotel setting to receive food, medical attention and time to recover.

The City has also established protocols for identifying vulnerable individuals, such as seniors and those with chronic medical conditions that put them at risk for severe COVID such as diabetes, hypertension, and chronic kidney disease, and offering them shelter in locations other than the WEHC. The goal is to help reduce the risk of COVID exposure for vulnerable individuals.

The Westside Emergency Housing Center located at 7440 Jim McDowell NW, is usually open to men, women and families experiencing homelessness in Albuquerque. While the WEHC is not currently taking new residents and transportation has been suspended through the weekend, individuals and families in need of assistance can call 768-HELP, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

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Emergencies challenge the delivery and management of emergency public information, warning and emergency protective action notifications. The Albuquerque Joint Information Center (JIC) functions as a coordinated Albuquerque Metro Area public information system that will gather and analyze data related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in New Mexico and serve as a source of accurate and comprehensive information.