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City Holds Briefing on COVID Status in Metro Area, Deterring Delta Variant Impact

City releasing $7.5 million in business aid, requiring masks at indoor City facilities

Mayor Tim Keller held a briefing today to provide an update on the status of COVID-19 in the metro area. Due to the rise of the highly contagious Delta variant, the City re-instituted a mask requirement inside all City facilities on Monday, regardless of vaccination status. The Centers for Disease Control updated their guidelines last week, recommending that masks be worn in indoor public spaces by all. The City’s update comes in tandem with other regional bodies including Bernalillo County, APS, the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority. The City urges all eligible residents to get their COVID-19 vaccine to slow the spread of the virus. City employees can take paid time to get vaccinated and vaccinations are free and easily available. To help buffer business disruption due to COVID, the City is releasing $7.5 million in business, non-profit, and arts and entertainment support.

“We’ve got to keep Albuquerque ahead of the Delta variant and we’re moving in accordance with CDC guidance to put extra protection in our indoor City facilities, and to support local businesses and organizations” said Mayor Tim Keller. “While cases are rising in Albuquerque more slowly than many cities in our region, we can’t underestimate this virus. We can all do our part by getting vaccinated and staying smart about prevention, especially as kids get ready to go back to school.” 

The $7.5 million grant program to support small businesses in economic recovery opened on Wednesday. Of the categories available, the following still have availability.

  • Mainstreet Business Grants
  • Hotels & Public Safety Grants
  • Arts & Entertainment Grants
  • Youth & Education Sector Grants

Grants are available to Albuquerque small businesses with 50 or fewer employees, and you can find more information at cabq.gov/RecoveryGrants.

“We’re thankful to the Keller Administration for allocating these funds that will aid in our City’s economic recovery, and support the families that own, operate, and work at local small businesses,” said Economic Development Director Synthia R. Jaramillo. “There is significant work to be done in revitalizing our economy, and these grants are one piece of creating an equitable and prosperous future for Albuquerque’s citizens.”

The Delta variant is the most contagious COVID strain to emerge, posing substantial risk to unvaccinated individuals. Early evidence shows that the variant can also be transmitted by vaccinated individuals, even when symptoms are mild or non-existent. Getting more people vaccinated is by far the best way to reverse the rise in cases and slow future dangerous variants from emerging. The COVID-19 vaccine is a safe and effective way to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19.

While cases rise across the country, Albuquerque continues to lead the region with first or second best COVID health metrics such as positivity rate and total cases to-date. Today, 68.7% of eligible residents in the metro area are fully vaccinated and 75.9% have received their first shot, nearly 20 percentage points higher than the national average. With additional precautions and continued vaccination efforts, Albuquerque is looking to prevent spikes in serious illnesses and fatality, maintain hospital capacity, and continue on the path towards a strong recovery.

“We need to see this through and stamp this out to prevent a future variant,” said Environmental Health Deputy Director, Mark DiMenna. “Unvaccinated people are the most at risk for this virus and unfortunately that includes our children who can’t yet be vaccinated. With school starting around the corner, getting your vaccine is critical to keep our kids health until they’re able to get a vaccine themselves.”

Find a COVID-19 testing location at https://cvprovider.nmhealth.org/directory.html and a vaccine appointment at vaccineNM.org.