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City Gives Updates on Enforcement, Vaccine Distribution, and Expanded Testing Availability

Testing available in every corner of the city, key to Metro Area getting to yellow, green tiers

Over the past week, City of Albuquerque compliance officials conducted 347 compliance interactions with businesses and individuals regarding State- and City-enacted Public Health Orders (PHO), and also worked with businesses, specifically restaurants, on acceptable outdoor expansions.

At a briefing Wednesday, Fire Marshal Gene Gallegos said, “We want to help our restaurants to expand their outdoor seating correctly. Call our office to ask us questions before you spend money on adjustments. There are regulations on how many walls can be up or down in a tent, if you can use heater, where a tent can be used, and more.”

Mayor Keller provided an update on the City’s role in distributing the now-approved COVID-19 vaccine, when it becomes available to the general public. In coordination with the State Department of Health and the New Mexico COVID Vaccine Distribution team, the City is preparing to open and operate up to 12 points of distribution for the public to access both the first and second rounds of the vaccine.

Mayor Keller called the vaccine “a light at the end of a tunnel.” However, he added, “It’s still a long, long, tunnel. The vaccine is one tool to fight the virus, but it is no substitute for the common-sense COVID-safe habits we’ve been working hard to build over time. Since the vaccine prevents infection, but not necessarily transmission, it’s still important to wear masks, keep your distance, and wash your hands regularly.”

New Mexico Environment Department Secretary James Kenney also joined today’s update to highlight a state initiative that brings testing—an important part of the effort to control the virus—directly to workplaces to give employees easy access. Secretary Kenney said, “The partnership between the State and Bueno Foods gives us an opportunity to test employees, their families, and the larger South Valley community. Testing is critical. People without symptoms can unknowingly spread the disease, so it's important to get tested whether you have symptoms or not. It's one of the fastest ways for New Mexico to get from red to green.”

Gene Baca, Vice President of Bueno Foods, which has utilized the program to test their employees, said, “We volunteered our parking lot as a testing site. It's going really well, the test is absolutely painless. We're happy to participate in this testing; as part of the community we want to do everything we can to help the community and protect our employees and family.”

Mayor Keller also highlighted the extent to which testing--central to the Albuquerque Metro area effort to move from red, to yellow, and into green status--is now more readily available than at almost any time during the pandemic. Two city sites feature testing. Balloon Fiesta Park, in partnership with Curative and the NM Department of Health, is providing non-invasive saliva-based tests. And Alamosa Community Center, on the city’s Southwest Mesa, is providing drive-thru nasal swab testing. To eliminate long lines, both sites are available by appointment to those who may have been exposed or are experiencing symptoms.

In the Metro Area there are more than a dozen testing sites available. Find a map, contact, and registration information at https://cvprovider.nmhealth.org/directory.html. Some sites are by appointment only, while others require only a pre-registration or are open to walk-ins, so residents should check the website for requirements at their preferred location before they go. As always, once a test is conducted, the City reminded people to self-isolate while awaiting results.

“If you are symptomatic, please get tested. It’s fast and free, just remember to isolate while you await your results to ensure you aren’t spreading COVID. Testing is also available for asymptomatic individuals and we strongly encourage anyone who may have been exposed to seek testing,” said Mayor Keller.

Download slides from today’s presentations.