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Mayor Keller Gives Updates on Metro Area Path to Yellow Status, Chief Search

Residents urged to continue getting tested, set an example by taking the vaccine when it is offered

Jan. 21, 2021

Today, Mayor Tim Keller gave an update on the ongoing COVID response, the City’s work to offer the vaccine to employees—including police and firefighters—and preparations to stand up Points of Distribution for the general public when given the go-ahead and the necessary doses by the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH). Mayor Keller also highlighted the importance of following the current Public Health Order and getting tested to move Bernalillo County from red to yellow on the NMDOH’s framework.

Although vaccines provide a light at the end of the tunnel, the availability of a vaccine does not diminish the importance of Albuquerque residents continuing to get tested for the virus if they are concerned about the possibility they may be infected. Testing and the percentage of positive tests remain one of two key factors in evaluating the metro area’s ability to re-open businesses and, combined with COVID-safe practices, is the quickest route to moving Bernalillo County to yellow and then green status under the NMDOH guidelines. Wearing a mask, socially distancing, and quarantining if you test positive remain just as important as before a vaccine was available. For information on testing visit cv.nmhealth.org.

By the end of the week, more than 600 City employees will have received the vaccine, including more than 317 firefighters, 218 police officers, and more than 70 workers who are on the frontlines or are required for government continuity, like EOC staff working at testing and vaccination sites or providing services to the homeless population.

“With the vaccine rolling out, there’s a glimmer of light ahead, but we need as many people as possible to get vaccinated so we can see the full impact for our community,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “So we’re putting the message out loud and clear that when you are offered the vaccine, set an example and take it.”

The City is preparing to operate as many as a dozen different Points of Distribution (PODs) to distribute the vaccine to the general public, under the phases directed by the NMDOH. This week, with a limited number of doses available, the City distributed 250 vaccines in a POD at Albuquerque High School, and is exploring the potential of a high-capacity site like the Albuquerque Convention Center for future distribution.

The phases of distribution are set by the NMDOH and can be found at their vaccination information website. All New Mexicans are encouraged to register for their vaccine at vaccinenm.org, or by calling 1-855-600-3453. HIPPA laws, designed to protect individuals from discrimination for seeking healthcare of any kind, protect each individual’s information, including whether or not that person has been vaccinated.

Mayor Keller was joined by Herb Crosby, the consultant hired to help lead the search for a new Police Chief, who spoke and took questions from the press about the search and extensive public input process. Three finalists were named this week: Harold Medina, Clinton Nichols, and Joseph Sullivan. All three will be participating in a public webinar for the community this weekend in a virtual format, on Saturday, January 23, at 1:30pm. The information to join is available at cabq.gov/police-chief-search.

Mayor Keller said the new chief will be expected to make tough choices and lead the department in major crime-fighting initiatives moving forward. “Fighting crime and making neighborhoods safer is still our top priority, and our next Chief will be someone we trust to lead that fight, lean into the DOJ reform process, and bring our police force to full strength. We’ve had an extensive public input process, and now it’s time to make a decision.”

Mr. Crosby said, “It was critical for us to hear from as many people as possible during this search—this needed to be a community-guided process. That’s why we conducted more than 40 input sessions with hundreds of folks from the community, reviewed more than 2,300 survey responses, and tapped an experienced and broadly representative group of leaders to help review the applicants.”

While finalists have been selected, the public input process has not closed. The public can view the resumes of the finalists here, and is encouraged to provide input at any stage of the search process, including suggestions for questions to be asked of the finalists, to [email protected].