Home News COVID-19 Situation Council to discuss responses to state’s COVID-19 actions

Council to discuss responses to state’s COVID-19 actions

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A special meeting of the Roswell City Council on Monday will give councilors an opportunity to address Roswell residents about the state’s recent actions closing two stores and imposing tighter restrictions under the public health order, Mayor Dennis Kintigh said.

The council will consider taking action on four items on the agenda including ending lease negotiations with the state for a building at the Roswell Air Center, assisting the health care community and supporting a declaration from a local group, one of whose founders is Councilor Jacob Roebuck.

The meeting will be at 5 p.m. Monday in Meeting Room A of the Roswell Convention & Civic Center, 912 N. Main St. No public participation item is included on the agenda. The meeting can be viewed live over virtual meeting software GoToMeeting or on the city’s YouTube channel.

On computer, tablet or smartphone, the meeting can be joined on GoToMeeting at global.gotomeeting.com/join/815060573, or by calling 669-224-3412 and using access code 815-060-573.

The New Mexico Department of Health ordered temporary closures Nov. 18 to Dec. 2 of Albertsons Market, 1110 S. Main St., and Sam’s Club, 440 N. Main St., because each had four or more Rapid Responses within 14 days with reported positive cases of COVID-19 among staff.

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Albertsons was allowed to reopen Wednesday after agreeing to a new state policy to conduct regular testing of employees and to help with contact tracing.

Kintigh said Monday’s agenda will give city councilors the opportunity to discuss options the city can take in response but is largely a chance for councilors to speak on the state’s actions.

“Some of it is basically making a statement. Some of it’s actually striving to do some things that are viable. But to a large extent the purpose here is to provide the councilors the opportunity to speak to the city and articulate what their feelings are to the voters,” Kintigh said.

One of the items on the agenda is to consider directing City Manager Joe Neeb to discontinue lease negotiations with the Department of Health for a building at the Roswell Air Center.

Kintigh said the lease for Building 611, at 9 E. Challenger Ave., expires Monday. The 10-year lease was first put into place 20 years ago, with two extensions of five years each. The second five-year option is coming to an end.

The building houses administrative offices for the Southeast Region of the health department, which oversees Chaves, Lea, Curry, Lincoln, De Baca, Quay, Eddy and Roosevelt counties. About 30 people work there, according to Jimmy Masters, southeast region director.

“In many ways, that’s not an appropriate place for a non-aviation outfit because it’s so close to the ramp,” Kintigh said. “Is there a better use for it?”

Kintigh acknowledged the directive is in a way, a response to the governor and the state’s actions.

“We cannot resist the governor, so to speak. So it’s just a response. Like I said, this is an opportunity for the council to speak individually and as a group, and we’ll see how it turns out,” he said.

The council will also consider voting to direct the city manager to research options on how the city could assist Roswell’s health care community to recruit and retain critical health care workers.

That item is meant to address possible shortages in being able to care for patients as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rise.

“The underlying concern is that, especially at Eastern (New Mexico Medical Center), it’s not a space issue, it’s not that they don’t have enough beds to take on more patients. It’s that they don’t have the staff to cover those,” Kintigh said.

“We’ll see if that’s viable. It is a distressing issue and it doesn’t sound like we’re unique in any way,” he said.

The council will also consider directing the city manager to open all city facilities and return all city services to normal operation.

It would require Neeb to get consent from the City Council before closing any facilities and services for more than two days, but also gives him the discretion to implement any safety protocol he deems appropriate.

The directive would have an expiration date of March 1.

Another item is a resolution that would support a declaration by an organization, Protect Our New Mexico Children. On the group’s website, Roebuck is listed as one of its organizers. He said it is an informal, non-political group of people that believe the current restrictions of the public health order are detrimental to youth.

The group has scheduled a rally for 3:45 p.m. Monday in the parking lot of the Convention & Civic Center.

Protect New Mexico’s Children has posted on its website a “Declaration to Protect Our Children From Harmful COVID-19 Policies,” and invites people to add their signatures online. As of Friday, it had more than 100 signatures, many of them from Roswell.

Portions of the group’s declaration is taken directly from “The Great Barrington Declaration,” a statement written by a professor of theoretical epidemiology at Oxford University and two other medical researchers. It was sponsored by the American Institute for Economic Research, a libertarian think tank in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

It advocates for what it calls focused protection of those most at risk for COVID-19 while allowing those at lower risk to resume normal functions of work and social life.

The Great Barrington Declaration has received more than 45,000 signatures from medical and public health scientists and medical practitioners and more than 660,000 others. It has also been criticized by the World Health Organization, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and the National Institutes of Health, among others.

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com.

To keep up with local coverage of the coronavirus, go to rdrnews.com/category/news/covid-19-situation/.