Santa Fe County has been working to help residents affected by COVID-19, from limiting contact in county work environments and areas open to the public, to assisting those who have lost their jobs, to helping nonessential businesses that have closed.
The county formed a task force to deal with COVID-19 in February, bringing together emergency services and all department heads. In March, they closed senior centers, community centers, and other public buildings, and started providing online services and limited appointments in their buildings. (However, the state mandates which businesses are essential, not the county.)
The county has partnered with the city to open up the CONNECT program to help vulnerable citizens in need. This program offers support in paying for utilities, rent, and food for those who can’t afford it due to a loss of work.
“CONNECT is the perfect service to assist Santa Fe County residents in accessing basic nonmedical needs so crucial during the COVID 19 crisis,” states Rachel O’Connor, the Community Services Director for Santa Fe County, adding that this program had already existed to help the most vulnerable citizens, such as the homeless and people with serious mental illness, but this crisis has prompted them to open it to the general public.
To access CONNECT, visit these websites: Santa Fe County or the City of Santa Fe.
The county has also begun to deliver more meals to seniors living in the county. Previously, the county would only deliver to homebound seniors while the rest of the senior population would go to senior centers to eat, but since these centers have been closed, the county is delivering to all seniors who need it. Seniors can access this service by calling (505) 992-3069.
When there are reports of people spending time in groups, the Sheriff’s office will follow up and disperse these groups. Signage has been put up on trailheads and trail parking lots due to reports of large numbers of people congregating there to remind them to distance themselves from others. The emergency call room has had many residents calling about group gatherings, according to Santa Fe County Major Gabriel Gonzales, indicating that the public is also contributing to making sure people are socially distancing.
While the county does not have direct funding for businesses that have been affected, they are coordinating with the city of Santa Fe to assist businesses in accessing federal and state funding.