By RANDALL RYTI
Los Alamos County Council
As we approach the end of 2021 I would like to give the community an update on the County’s ongoing response to COVID-19 as well as highlight some items we expect to have on our Council agendas in the next two months.
One of the main County activities has been to coordinate COVID-19 vaccination clinics. As many of you know, there was a clinic this last Sunday, October 10 for third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. I want to say thank you to the County Emergency Manager Ms. Beverley Simpson, Dr. Robert McClees and Trinity Urgent Care staff, and all the volunteers for making these clinics possible. The logistical support for the third booster clinics was in progress ahead of FDA authorization so Los Alamos County and New Mexico would be prepared.
The County has also been active in supporting the broader community. With the recent cases at two Los Alamos Public Schools sites, I asked the County Manager to contact Acting Superintendent Guy to see if we could assist. Based on this conversation the Fire Department will assist with the testing needed, to document cases, and control spread. Under former Chair Scott’s leadership the County provided funding for the purchase of shade structures for all the school sites. These shade structures have assisted with outdoor learning this year and will continue to do so for years to come.
Another area where the County has helped the community is with the financial impacts of COVID-19. We were able to use Federal funds last year for business and resident assistance programs. On August 31, we had a discussion and voted on how to allocate funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. We voted to allocate the bulk of $3.7m in funds to address negative economic impacts, including assistance to households, small businesses, and nonprofits.
One other COVID-related item to highlight is the current availability of testing. The Curative nasal swab test is available on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Mari Mac Village Shopping Center parking lot. You need to make an appointment at https://curative.com. A second option is the Vault at-home saliva test. Visit the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH)/Vault webpage to order your test: https://learn.vaulthealth.com/nm/. NMDOH was offering testing at its Los Alamos Public Health office but is no longer offering that service to focus on vaccine boosters and other public health services. There are some testing locations in the region – visit the NMDOH web site to see what is available https://cvprovider.nmhealth.org/directory.html. Given the current conditions it is my priority to make sure we have adequate testing options here in Los Alamos.
On the Council calendar for the next two months are some items related to development and redevelopment. We will consider adding the Los Alamos and White Rock downtown plans as amendments to the 2016 Comprehensive Plan. The revision of the Code Chapter 16 “Development” is in progress with two more modules scheduled to be presented to Council. Land use requirements are being considered by some items including a short-term rental amendment to the Code and requirements for cannabis retail establishments. Although not scheduled to go to Council in the next two months, the Community Development Advisory Board and our consultants are working on public outreach and proposed changes to Chapter 18 “Environment” that is also known as the Nuisance Code. Lastly, we are also expecting to have a contract to review and approve for the White Rock Wastewater Treatment Plant (being designed as the Water Resource Reclamation Facility).