ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — More than 400 workers at a meat packing plant in southern New Mexico have been tested after state officials say one employee at the facility turned up positive for COVID-19.
Test kits for the workers were flown by the Civil Air Patrol to the state Health Department’s lab in Albuquerque for quick processing Monday and Tuesday.
The rapid testing was done to provide information needed to keep the plant operating safely for employees as well as the public. Officials didn't identify the plant by name and haven't said whether any more of the workers have tested positive.
“We are grateful to plant management who voluntarily reached out to have their staff tested after one employee tested positive last week,” said David Morgan, a spokesman with the Health Department. “The plant is still safely operating, and employees already are following all state and federal guidelines for safe food handling.”
The confirmed case at the plant is among the 4,031 cases reported so far in New Mexico. Several thousand tests have been done in Dona Ana County, turning up 170 total cases — far less than McKinley, Bernalillo, Sandoval and San Juan counties. McKinley County, which includes Gallup and part of the Navajo Nation, accounts for three of every 10 cases statewide.
The Civil Air Patrol also has helped transport test kits from Memorial Medical Center in Las Cruces to the Albuquerque laboratory and delivered a shipment of personal protective equipment to the Farmington area and brought test kits to the lab on the way back.
In southern New Mexico, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has recruited two Hollywood actors to help raise money for areas of Doña Ana County that were already struggling before the pandemic. Colonias — the unincorporated, low-income areas along the U.S.-Mexico border — often lack adequate housing and potable water, but the issues have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
Richardson's philanthropic foundation is partnering with The Las Cruces Sun-News to promote a relief fund, the newspaper reported this week. Richardson says he reached out to Edward James Olmos and Danny Trejo to see if they would join.
The fund has amassed $40,000. The Community Action Agency of Southern New Mexico will process applications for those looking for assistance. The Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico will manage the fund.
Trejo runs his own taco restaurants in Los Angeles, where he has been helping to hand out food to families and health care workers.