Sancre Productions thanks the community for its enthusiastic support of the summer concerts. Courtesy/Sancre
By KIRSTEN LASKEY
Los Alamos Daily Post
As far as the pandemic – the future is starting to look hopeful. It was on that optimistic note that the Los Alamos County Council approved an amendment to the general services agreement with Sancre Productions, LLC during its Tuesday night 9 meeting.
The amendment, which passed unanimously, modifies the scope of services for Sancre Productions, which organizes and operates the Los Alamos County Summer Concert Series. The scope of services now includes virtual performances if live concerts are canceled due to COVID-19.
Community Services Department Director Cory Styron said this is the second amendment to the services agreement. The first amendment was made last year, which moved all last year’s live concerts to a virtual format. Styron said originally it was agreed to have 15 live concerts, five of which would have a regional draw to bring in tourists and provide a great experience to residents. In the end he said there were nine virtual shows.
Despite the change, Styron said the virtual performances attracted a lot of views. He added the hope is to offer live shows this year but after the events of 2020, “we knew we would have an unpredictable schedule”.
However, Sancre Productions needs the agreement settled by mid-April to secure acts, Styron said. Plus, the need becomes even more critical as the rest of New Mexico and neighboring states reopen, he said.
As a result, Styron said there is a provision in the agreement that allows the first half of the concert season to be virtual if the state is still operating under the public health order for COVID. Going past June there may be some type of in-person events but there would still be some flexibility if virtual programming is necessary, he said.
“We think that this is a good agreement to continue the relationship and continue to provide services to our community,” Styron said.
In other news regarding COVID, Council heard an update on County COVID vaccinations and testing.
County Manager Harry Burgess reported that there has been a decline in positive COVID cases reported statewide and nationwide. As of March 9, the New Mexico Department of Health designated Los Alamos County as green. It has since been re-designated to the least restrictive turquoise level. In response, Burgess said there has been discussion of reopening and already Atomic City Transit is offering routes and the County libraries have changed their hours and are allowing people in. Additionally, Burgess said there are conversations about reopening various rental spaces as the maximum number for congregating increases.
Los Alamos County Emergency Manager Beverley Simpson said the number of positive COVID cases in Los Alamos remains at 486 (488 as of today, March 13). In fact, as of March 9, there has only been 11 new cases in the past two weeks, she said.
While Los Alamos is designated turquoise, Simpson said the state is considering another color after turquoise although what that would entail is still being debated.
Despite all the good news, “I wanted to let the council and community know that we need to continue testing,” Simpson said.
She explained that the County has performed 1,733 tests in the last two weeks and that does go into the denominator for calculating how many positive cases there are in Los Alamos. Therefore, testing either through Curative or the Public Health Office still needs to be encouraged, Simpson said.
As for the vaccination effort, Simpson said public schools are scheduled to reopen fully April 5 and a new phase has been created, 1-B-0, which is for teachers and day care center workers. She said she is waiting to get the number of people in this category from the state who registered for the vaccine.
During the Tuesday’s meeting, Simpson reported on the most recent vaccination clinic, which was held March 8 at the high school. She said it was “a marathon” – 649 vaccines were administered. Simpson thanked Councilor Sara Scott for her assistance during the clinic.
Simpson said 115 teachers still require the vaccine, and she anticipates 25 daycare center employees need to be vaccinated. There is no new information about when more of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine doses will be received in the state. She said the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is on hold due to a production issue, but more doses are expected to come to New Mexico the week of March 26. County-wide, 6,792 vaccinations have been administered, she said.
“We are making a good dent,” Simpson said, “and we continue to work the teachers, daycares and individuals in the 1-A and 1-B-1 into the vaccination clinics and that’s really the focus for the next couple of vaccine clinics … we anticipate these big events will be every Monday, thanks to Nambe Drugs. They are the lead on this and they are doing a phenomenal job.”
Other providers are working toward administering the vaccine. Simpson said Smith’s is working through the national pharmaceutical program, but it doesn’t know when it will receive the vaccine. Trinity Urgent Care and Medical Associates of Northern New Mexico have been put on hold, too; however, both should get their vaccination provider approval before the end of the month, Simpson said.
Simpson added that there should be an uptick in vaccinations that come through the state and federal stockpile by March 26.
Scott commended Simpson on her work.
“We are so lucky to have her as our Emergency Manager,” Scott said.
In an unrelated matter, council heard results from the 2020 County employee survey. Human Resources Manager Jennifer Dorian reported that the results were positive.
In fact, she said nine out of 10 survey participants felt the County was a good employer. Furthermore, Dorian said the employee-supervisor relationship and work group performance ratings were higher than the national average as were the ratings for wage and benefits, which include employee appreciation, compensation and benefits.
No key drivers were below the national benchmarks, Dorian said. Moving forward she said the hope is to conduct the survey every two years to establish benchmarks, provide opportunities for promotion, open lines of communication, improve support services in areas that received less favorable scores and look for opportunities to increase employee participation in the next survey.
Dorian reported that Polco/National Research Center (NRC) was contracted to do the survey, which was administered Oct. 26-Nov. 13, 2020. The results were returned Jan. 22. Of the 677 eligible employees, 274 took the survey.