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Local COVID-19 prevention effort starts

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The Chaves County Health Council has launched a COVID-19 prevention campaign that is partly about providing information and partly about giving out free supplies.

“We wanted to do something meaningful to help slow the spread of COVID, and it’s a big priority in our county right now,” said Jennifer Smith, coordinator for the council.

She also said the idea for the project originated with the group’s chairwoman, Valerie Lopez.

The health council is one of the locally run councils established by state legislation to enhance public health in their regions and compile health information and research about the local community. It receives some of its operating funds from the state.

It began Wednesday to post printable images and flyers, available in both English and Spanish, about how to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. They can be found on the group’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/ChavesCountyHealthCouncil.

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Smith said the council wants people and organizations to post the information on their websites or social media sites, to email them or to share the information via word-of-mouth.

Those materials also let people know that they can call 2-1-1, which is the community information line staffed by the council, to receive a free COVID-19 prevention packet. Those contain a reusable cloth face covering, hand soap and hand sanitizer.

“We have enough for around 100 right now,” said Smith, “mainly because we have around that many masks. We have more of the other supplies, so we will hopefully be able to get more masks made soon.”

She said the organization does not intend to supply bulk orders right now.

The project also is supported by the Roswell Jobs Corps, Tascosa Office Machines and Starr Janitorial.

Chaves County has the second-highest incidence per 100,000 residents of COVID-19 in New Mexico, according to the data reported by the New Mexico Department of Health.

From Nov. 17 to Nov. 30, it had 174.4 cases per 100,000 population. Its positivity rate, or the percentage of people testing positive for the coronavirus, for that time period was 24.4%. The numbers are due to be updated Dec. 16.

Those numbers put the county at the “very high risk” red level in the state’s newly implemented tiered risk assessment that determines what public health restrictions and regulations will be in place for businesses, schools and community and individual activities. Thirty-one other counties also are in the red zone. One is at the yellow level.

To operate at the green level, which has the least restrictions, counties must have eight or fewer cases per 100,000 and also have a positivity rate of 5% or less.

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