Here’s a look at today’s headlines:
The New Mexico Department of Health has reported a spike in the number of flu cases across New Mexico in the last few weeks. Compared to the same time last year, influenza-like illness activity is twice as great, with the current flu season not yet reaching its peak. The number of flu related deaths has risen in New Mexico to six, and flu related hospitalizations, especially among residents age 65 and older have been steadily increasing since the beginning of the flu season in October. The Department of Health has investigated 12 flu outbreaks in facilities around the state, seven of them in the last few weeks. Flu shots remain highly recommended for the following high-risk groups: Pregnant women; children younger than 5 years of age; people 65 years and older; and people with chronic diseases like asthma, diabetes, lung or heart disease, in addition to those with suppressed immune systems from medication or disease.
New Mexico State Representative, Debbie Armstrong, chair of the New Mexico House of Representatives Health and Human Services Committee, has demanded the re-instatement of contract services that assist vulnerable senior citizens in the state. Representative Armstrong, claims the Department of Aging and Long-Term Service’s decision to cancel a critical elder-care program is a violation of federal law, and is scheduled to take effect on February 1st, disrupting services such as in-home-care and meal preparation for seniors in rural communities. It is alleged that the Department did not comply with federal requirements to provide public hearings and the right to appeal. In New Mexico, the North Central New Mexico Economic Development District has operated the Non-Metro Area Agency on Aging, which manages a network of critical services to more than 70,000 seniors, for more than 30 years. The contract with them will be cancelled effective February 1st and all services would be taken on by the staff of the Area Agencies on Aging Department.
The Gila National Forest will be conducting an orientation and training session for the Gila Southwest Firefighter recruitment program for the 2018 wildland fire season. To be accepted into the program, candidates must meet all of the attendance requirements, successfully complete a 40-hour training course or the refresher courses as applicable. The SWFF program has a long and distinguished history in the southwest, and their crews are mobilized to wildland fires in the Gila National Forest and across the nation. To qualify for the SWFF recruitment program, candidates must attend the Introductory Session on January 10th from 6:00 to 8:00 P.M. at the Grant County Business and Conference Center located at 3031 Highway 180 in Silver City. For more information, call 575-388-8233.
In Deming area news, the Community Services Department will be expanding wireless internet services to eight city parks in addition with plans to improve speed and bandwidth in the future. Since 2015, the city has been working on negotiations with vendors and providing the proper infrastructure at the parks. Girl Scout Park on West Ash Street was the first Wi-Fi hotspot with the wireless equipment placed atop a water tower. Access to higher-speed connections and greater bandwidth are being improved at Girl Scout Park and Nacio Herb Brown Park. In addition, the city expects to expand service to Florida Street “Water Tower” Park, Elsie Vega “Chicano” Park, the Lloyd Pratz T-Ball Complex, Voiers “Pit” Park on Country Club Road, and Southside Park located near the Deming Literacy Center.