The Sandoval County Clerk’s Office is struggling to find in-person polling locations for the upcoming primary election, and emergency managers are distributing small amounts of COVID-19 personal protective equipment from Fire Station 21.
County commissioners heard those updates during their half-hour telephonic, live-streamed meeting Thursday afternoon.
County Clerk Eileen Garbagni said the county would need to amend its election plans to have the minimum-required four early-voting locations, including the county administration building.
“At this point, we are looking for sites for Election Day, but we are first going by the approval list we had you approve last year in June of 2019,” she said.
She had received permission to use Bernalillo Public Schools facilities and county fire stations, but had been refused use of senior centers, City of Rio Rancho buildings and Rio Rancho Public Schools facilities.
Garbagni said she had inquired about sites on pueblos, but the only one to respond was Santa Ana Pueblo. Officials there said the pueblo was closed until May 3 and they’d let her know if the closure would be extended.
She also said her office would need more money for postage for absentee ballots, and poll workers would get personal protective equipment.
A resolution covering those issues is set to come before the commission May 7.
In another matter, Emergency Manager Seth Muller updated commissioners on COVID-19 in the county.
Cases had increased, and a county man in his 30s with underlying health conditions had died of the virus, he said.
The National Guard is managing the state emergency operations center, including ordering PPE, which comes to Station 21, just north of US 550 on Santa Ana Pueblo, and is distributed from there. He said he has some equipment from the national stockpile and has been able to fill small requests.
“But we don’t have a ton of stuff in storage,” Muller said.
He knew of no PPE shortages in the county.
Muller said the county was providing an ambulance crew to Zia Pueblo, which was hit hard by COVID-19, starting this weekend to help with medical calls.
Responding to a question from Commissioner Michael Meek, he said the governor and state Department of Health continued to refuse to identify communities or ZIP codes where COVID-19 patients lived, citing privacy concerns. Several commissioners expressed unhappiness with that situation.
“We can’t help people if we don’t know where it is,” Meek said.
Commissioner Jay Block said revealing distribution of cases by community or ZIP wasn’t a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act violation, and many states and municipalities were already doing that. He pointed out the governor had identified nursing homes that experienced outbreaks.
In other business, commissioners:
• approved publication of a notice of intent to refinance a 2012 loan at a lower interest rate, allowing the county to lease property to AMI Kids for lower payments, and
• approved a resolution supporting the National Park Service’s proposed purchase of property in the Village of Jemez Springs for the Valles Caldera National Preserve science and education center and administrative support facility.