Los Alamos County Council Chair Sara Scott declared a local public health emergency Wednesday because of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, joining dozens of other local governments who are dedicating additional resources to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.
“As our residents know, from the outset of COVID-19 in New Mexico, we have been actively monitoring, preparing and taking steps every day to keep our community safe,” said Scott, noting that most recently, the County implemented a policy for some employees to telecommute from home in order to reduce health risks to employees and the general public that might result from face-to-face transactions.
“Declaring this public health emergency is a prudent step for us to take at this time. It opens the door for us to allocate resources to immediate needs, as well as being able to access state or federal funds for recovery and response,” Scott said.
County Manager Harry Burgess said budgetary tracking codes for staff time and materials or services have already been initiated within the Finance and Payroll Divisions this week. Burgess said that all departments submitted reports last week regarding their readiness for anticipated COVID-19 affects. These reports were utilized in determining facility closures and in the development of the recently implemented telecommuting policy, and the County is ready to implement additional measures.
“Right now, everything is running very smoothly with no issues despite the announced closures and reduction of on-site personnel,” he said, “however, we have assessed our staffing and resources at this time, and we know what kinds of options we may be exploring in the weeks to come if this becomes a public health emergency in Los Alamos. The emergency declaration is just the next step in our process to be ready to respond rapidly in this ever-evolving situation. Because of the nature of this crisis at the national level, local government needs to be ready to step in and do what it can rather than relying on federal and state governments, who will be very busy working through myriad issues at their own level of response.”
Chair Scott said that the County (County Manager, staff, Council), Los Alamos Medical Center, LANL, and state representatives and agencies continue to be in regular and direct communication and are actively coordinating efforts underway to limit the spread of the virus and promote readiness in Los Alamos.