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Mayor Keller Convenes Key Stakeholders for COVID-19 Preparedness Meeting

NM Department of Health, City Environmental Health, other Central NM agencies preparing for future action

February 28, 2020

Today, Mayor Tim Keller assembled City of Albuquerque officials and representatives from various regional agencies to discuss plans for coordination and response related to COVID-19 (Coronavirus). The New Mexico Department of Health and the City Environmental Health Department provided a briefing and reviewed current planning status. The meeting also provided a forum for the group to discuss coordination of efforts for a variety of potential scenarios.

Mayor Tim Keller said, “There are no reported coronavirus cases in New Mexico but we want to step up and protect residents, so today was about getting the right people in the room and prepare in advance. Key City officials and our Central New Mexico partners outlined clear protocols, planned for a coordinated response, and discussed the current state of our readiness as well as extra efforts that will be made to prepare. Conversations like this help us keep a close watch on this for New Mexico.”

The following planning considerations were discussed in the meeting:

  • Create a Business Continuity Plan: This plan helps workplaces map out how to provide essential services if a number of employees are sick or unavailable. Be sure your employees know what is expected of them.
  • Ensure Sick Employees Stay Home: Sick employees should not come to work. If employees come to work with symptoms, ask them to go home. Take this time to review sick leave sick leave policies for your staff.
  • Devise a Contingency Work-From-Home Plan: This may include equipping staff with laptops and supplies needed to work from home and using conference calls and video conferencing in lieu of face-to-face meetings
  • Offer Flexible Leave Policies: Staff may need to stay home to care for sick household members or for children if schools are canceled. Make plans for staff to work from home or take leave.
  • Keep a Well-Stocked Supply of Tissues, Hand Sanitizer, and Disinfecting Wipes: Make these available in common areas and offices. CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to prevent respiratory illnesses, including coronavirus.
  • Ensure Workspaces Are Cleaned and Disinfected Frequently: Work with cleaning staff to ensure this is done correctly.  The CDC has basic information on cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing:  https://www.cdc.gov/flu/school/cleaning.htm
  • Encourage Employees to Get the Flu Shot: In the future, consider mandatory flu vaccination policies. Post signs about coughing/sneezing etiquette and handwashing. If soap and water are not readily available, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. CDC has lots of resources reminding people about this: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/resource-center/freeresources/print/print-businesses.htm

In addition to the Department of Health, attendees of today’s meeting included over 10 City of Albuquerque Departments such as Environmental Health, Aviation, APD, and AFR; Bernalillo, Valencia, Torrance and Sandoval Counties; the City of Rio Rancho; Office of Congresswoman Deb Haaland; UNM; APS; Visit ABQ; the Mid-Region Council of Governments and others.

As with any new disease, knowledge evolves with time. It is difficult to predict how this situation will develop. As more information about COVID-19 becomes available, and as response needs change, the City of Albuquerque will provide updates to staff and our constituents.