BY SARA SCOTT
Los Alamos County Council Chair
First of all, a heartfelt thank you to so many community members for taking serious steps to limit the impact of COVID-19. It is hard, but the best thing we can do now is to stay home as much as possible (including self-isolation for those who have traveled out of state); keeping our distance will continue to slow the progression of transmission and help optimize the availability of our health care system and professionals.
Today, I signed an Emergency Declaration for Los Alamos County. Although the Governor has already signed a public health emergency order; this step was taken for the purpose of requesting federal or state aid, assistance, relief programs, and funding that may be available in the future.
Additionally, as summarized yesterday by County Manager Burgess, all employees not performing essential services which require them to be in the field will either be working from home or on Emergency Paid Leave status. If you have any questions about County services please call 311 (or 505-662-8333); the staff also has contact information for organizations that can help with issues such as paying for food or utilities, access to needed services, or how you can help the community at this time.
Many in the community are working hard to identify ways we all can help our businesses during this challenging time; the creativity and commitment to these efforts is recognized and very much appreciated. The Los Alamos Commerce Development Corporation and Chamber of Commerce are actively collecting information on programs available to help businesses. Councilor Randall Ryti is in contact with Smith’s and they have implemented special access for senior citizens and anticipate regular shipments of food and other supplies to the store to continue.
The County, the medical center, and LANL continue to be in regular and direct communication and actively coordinating efforts at multiple levels; through the County Manager and staff, our Emergency Management Coordinator, and Council. We are also in regular contact with Rep. Christine Chandler and NM State offices to address questions about response and preparedness and we have conference calls set up with our federal legislative representatives. We will continue to fully engage throughout this situation and appreciate all efforts to work together during this rapidly evolving situation.
In speaking with LANL, they summarized a range of precautionary measures being undertaken to protect the health of the people who work at the Laboratory and surrounding communities, including a liberal work from home policy, where possible, to promote social distancing. All of the measures at the Laboratory are closely aligned with the Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration. Examples of what the Laboratory has done, and will continue to do, include:
- LANL has stood up a Pandemic Advisory Team that is in regular contact with state and federal health officials
- LANL has stood up the Emergency Operation Center (EOC) at MedCon Level 4, and it is connected to other EOCs across the country
- LANL has advised all employees who can to telecommute to reduce the number of staff onsite at any time, decreasing the number of opportunities for transmission
- LANL has advised all employees to practice social distancing by conducting meetings via phone or teleconference and refraining from gathering in meeting rooms.
- LANL is closely monitoring and following all evolving NM Department of Health and national CDC guidelines; this includes emphasizing the importance of self-isolation efforts in compliance with those provided by the NM Department of Health, in particular, “that individuals who have traveled outside of the state be in self-isolation for a period of 14 calendar days.”
- LANL and the NNSA have suspended almost all official work travel with very few exceptions allowed in critical mission areas.
Please continue to monitor key websites for the status of testing in our state and pandemic guidance (cdc.gov and cv.nmhealth.org). The County has added a COVID-19 button to the front page of our website (losalamosnm.us), where you can find County announcements regarding COVID-19 measures and links to state and national information sources. Remember that if you feel you may have been infected with the Coronavirus, please call the Coronavirus emergency hotline at 855-600-3453 rather than going into a clinic or doctor’s office.
Let’s continue to show how much we care for each other through extra kindness and keeping connected, shopping for what we need but not more, and continuing social distancing and efforts. It is what we can do. Please don’t forget to take care of yourself as well. I know we’ll all continue to do our best to work through this situation together.