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LAS CRUCES CITY COUNCIL

City council calls for more equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccine

Posted

The Las Cruces City Council has unanimously approved a resolution calling on Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the New Mexico Department of Health to provide equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine to Las Cruces and Doña Ana County.

The resolution, which the council approved at its March 16 regular meeting, states that the city and county “should be prioritized in receiving a greater proportion of vaccines. The region remains in the highest risk level in the state’s framework, yet Doña Ana County has received proportionally fewer vaccines than all but a few counties in New Mexico. This is the case even though the county has many citizens who are at a greater risk of developing serious, life-threatening complications if they contract the virus including a large elderly population and many individuals with chronic medical conditions.”

The resolution says NMDOH “should greatly increase the proportion of vaccines being delivered to the city and county.”

Councilor Tessa Abeyta-Stuve, who is chair of the city vaccination task force created by the council in January, brought the resolution forward, she said, because the city needs to continue to advocate for an increase in vaccines coming to the city and county.

Assistant City manager Eric Enriquez said a city application to NMDOH for the Las Cruces Fire Department to become a vaccine provider is still pending.

“I don’t know what the delay is,” Enriquez said at the meeting. “We have a pharmacy, we have a medical director; we meet all the criteria,” he said.

“It looks like we’re not getting the proportion of vaccines that we should be,” Councilor Yvonne Flores said. She also is a member of the city’s vaccine task force, along with Mayor Pro-Tem Kasandra Gandara.

“We’re seeing a disconnect with how the state is communicating with our community,” Gandara said, adding that vaccinations being done by Memorial Medical Center are not being counted in NMDOH totals.

The NMDOH vaccine dashboard (https://cvvaccine.nmhealth.org/public-dashboard.html) shows that, as of March 15, 25.8 percent of Doña Ana County residents have received at least one shot of the vaccine and 13.1 percent are fully vaccinated, with 47.4 percent registered for the vaccine. That compares to 27.9 percent and 16.9 percent for Bernalillo County, with 49.6 percent registered; 31.1 percent and 16.9 percent for Santa Fe County, with 59.8 percent registered; 31.2 percent and 17.6 percent for Sandoval County, with 46.8 percent registered; 36.2 percent and 25.8 percent for San Juan County, with 23.2 percent registered; 22.8 percent and 14.3 percent for Otero County, with 30.6 percent registered; 22.1 percent and 9.2 percent for Eddy County, with 27 percent registered; 31 percent and 17.1 percent for Luna County, with 41.6 percent registered; 37.5 percent and 25.4 percent in Sierra County, with 43.8 percent registered; and 37.2 percent and 22 .5 percent in Socorro County, with 43 registered.

Councilor Johana Bencomo said there also is a “large discrepancy by race in terms of who’s getting vaccinated.”

The dashboard shows that, as of March 15, 33.5 percent of the state’s Native American population of the state (145,589) has received at least one shot of the vaccine and 21.7 percent has been fully vaccinated; Asian/Pacific Islander population (31,147): 30.1 percent has received at least one shot and 18.4 percent fully vaccinated; black/African American population (36,934): 16.1 percent has received at least one shot and 9.2 percent fully vaccinated; Hispanic/Latino population (780,908): 20.9 percent at least one shot, 12 percent fully vaccinated; white population (686,030): 29.5 percent has received at least one shot, 17.5 percent fully vaccinated.

Mayor Ken Miyagishima directed City Manager Ifo Pili to contact NMDOH and find a department official who can answer city council questions about vaccine distribution at a regular or special council work session.