Updated: November 24, 2020 10:47 PM
Created: November 24, 2020 10:22 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The state has launched a new proactive testing and contact tracing program to help keep more stores open.
The voluntary program is only being offered to essential businesses and allows businesses to avoid closing down after they’ve had positive COVID cases. Businesses must agree to test 100 percent of their employees to avoid the mandatory two-week closure.
There are currently about two dozen businesses around the state that have been forced to close down for two weeks. Some of those businesses include a few of Roswell’s major grocery stores. The ones that remained open quickly sold out of a lot of items.
“Some of the shelves were really just cleaned out,” said Steve Dodson, a Roswell resident.
In Albuquerque, the Sol Supermarket has been busy nonstop ahead of Thanksgiving. Christopher Schade, who works at Sol, said he’s on board with the proactive testing, but wonders how feasible it is for businesses.
“We test our employees once a month currently,” he said. “If we had a little bit of assistance, ‘cause we're sending them to the free testing sites right now, it would definitely help a lot."
But the state said testing would be at the employer’s expense.
“If we had more access to free testing or even some tests sent down to the stores themselves,” Schade said.
Some businesses, like American Home Furniture and Mattress, were forced to close under the governor’s two-week shutdown order because they’re considered nonessential.
"We sell what we think our essentially goods," said Jack Freed, with American Home Furniture. "Lift chairs, adjustable hospital beds, mattresses, of course, home office and studying aides."
Now, they’re pleading to be part of the state’s proactive testing program.
“We would love to take part in this and have our employees be tested every two weeks, and we just are not being given the opportunity to partake in that program,” Freed said.
While some businesses are in favor of the new program, there are still a lot of questions about how it’ll work. The state is asking for businesses to come up with a detailed plan about how they will carry out testing and surveillance, which is basically what the state is already doing with it’s COVID rapid responses.
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