Coronavirus Update

March 31, 2020 – Dr. Wendy Johnson with Richard Eeds Weekly COVID 19 Update


March 30, 2020 – Dr. Wendy Johnson on KSFR – COVID 19 Impact on La Familia Medical Center


La Familia adapts to COVID-19 precautions while continuing to care for vulnerable patients across the city


March 24, 2020: Listen to Dr. Wendy Johnson Interview with Richard Eeds / an Update


COVID 19 Update March 23, 2020

As of Sunday night, there are 65 cases of coronavirus in New Mexico with 10 in Santa Fe County.  5,368 tests have been performed so far, with about 700-1,000 tests per day over the last few days. That means only 1.2% of all those tested are positive in New Mexico, compared to over 10% of all those tested coming back positive in the entire country.

Another piece of good news for New Mexico is that we’ve ramped up testing faster than any other state or country in the world. At just 7 days into the epidemic in New Mexico (last week) had tested more per capita than any other country. The NM Department of Health is aggressively finding and tracing positive cases, and because NM is testing more broadly than many places, we can be assured that we are finding many, hopefully most, of the positives that exist in our communities.

Even though seeing the number of cases go up gives us anxiety, we have to expect that for the next few weeks, and remember that the cases being found today probably contracted the virus a week or two ago. That was just about the time New Mexico started aggressively implementing closures and recommending social distancing and self-quarantines for anyone coming back from out of state travel.  Hopefully the results of these measures will be seen in the next two to three weeks and positive case counts continue to rise slowly and eventually to start to come down.

La Familia Medical Center (LFMC) is working to implement several telemedicine options to better serve patients without coming into the clinic. LFMC is also screening all patients and staff before they enter the clinic so that those who are ill with any respiratory illness are separated from those who are not.  If you have to come to the clinic, LFMC is working to create a safe space for you.  If you have a scheduled appointment but it’s not urgent and you’d like to reschedule, or see if you can substitute a telephone call with your health care provider, give us a call (505.982.4425) to arrange that.

As before, if you have any respiratory symptoms or if you’ve traveled out of state in the past 2 weeks and you have a scheduled appointment, please call LFMC before coming in to see if your issue can be handled over the phone or via telemedicine.

If you think you may have symptoms of coronavirus, call LFMC and if your provider thinks the symptoms fit, you will be referred for testing to one of Santa Fe’s testing sites at Presbyterian Hospital or Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center. You may also call the Department of Health hotline at: 1-855-600-3453.

Many have asked what you can do to help our community. First of all, you can help your neighbors, especially those who are older or might be at higher risk for coronavirus; check in on them and help them with shopping.  And please, when you do go shopping, buy only what you need.  Help us all with social distancing by having your neighbors designate one person do the shopping for a block—that way only one person goes to the store rather than 4 or 5.

If you can sew, La Familia Medical Center is organizing a drive for homemade cloth masks to hand out to community members who can’t do social distancing, like the volunteers and guests at our homeless shelters and those who work at other social service agencies. This will help reserve the high grade surgical masks for health workers who need them most.

LFMC is also looking for donations of other materials for the clinic including bleach-based cleaning products and wipes, hand sanitizers, and surgical masks, eye goggles and gowns.

If you’d like to help our hardworking staff and also support struggling local businesses, our staff love it when folks bring breakfast or lunch or drop off other treats, contact Gloria Martinez, Development Director (505.955.0302, or via email: to coordinate these donations.

Finally, as LFMC has encouraged patients to stay home and worked to respond to their needs while keeping them out of the clinic, patient visits have decreased quite a bit; which is LFMC’s main source of revenue.  LFMC also had to cancel our annual chocolate extravaganza fundraiser which was to be held last weekend. If you are able, we would greatly appreciate any contribution you can make to help us continue to serve our community. Please call Gloria Martinez Development Director (505.955.0302, or via email: to coordinate or visit our website at to make a donation.

LFMC is so proud of the way the entire Santa Fe community has come together to fight this virus. We are already flattening the curve!  Keep up the excellent work Santa Fe. It’s an honor to care for and serve you.

Dr. Wendy Johnson, MD MPH

Chief Medical Officer


Here are the symptoms associated with COVID-19 and how they compare with symptoms of the common cold, the flu, and allergies:

covid 19 compared to other common conditions table


COVID 19 Update:  March 18, 2020

We now have 28 positive cases in New Mexico, and our first case that is unrelated to other cases or travel, in a 40 year old woman from Bernalillo. This means there is potentially community transmission occurring. There are 5 positive cases in Santa Fe and 1 in Taos. All of these are related to travel or another positive case. We have tested over 2350 people in the state, quite a bit more than most other states with under 100 corona virus cases, including many with much larger populations. Our rate of positives is also very low. So far, we are all doing a great job of “flattening the curve.”

Protecting our patients, staff and community:

Our goal at La Familia Medical Center (LFMC) is to continue to protect our patients and staff. To accomplish that, we have started screening all staff for symptoms and fever when they come in each morning. We will send staff home until they are well to protect our patients.

LFMC has set up separate areas in both the South Side and Alto clinics for all patients with respiratory symptoms. We are screening all patients and visitors to our clinics for symptoms and keeping those with symptoms separated. Please do not walk into our clinics without an appointment if you have respiratory symptoms. Please call first: 505.982.4425.

Again, we are asking our established patients to call before coming in if you have respiratory symptoms, especially a fever, dry cough, or shortness of breath. If you think you meet the criteria for testing, please continue to call the Department of Health hotline at 1-855-600-3453

If you do not have symptoms and are coming in for your appointment, please minimize the number of other people who accompany you. No one with cold symptoms will be allowed into the clinic. If you are coming for your own appointment, please do not bring your children. If you do not have child care, please consider rescheduling your appointment. We will ask you to leave other friends and family in the car or outside while you are seen in the clinic.

All of these procedures are designed to protect our patients and staff, to make sure those who need medical care can get that care safely, and to make sure that those who might need testing get tested safely and efficiently. LFMC is working to make our clinics as safe as possible for those who need care.

Hours change:

Starting Monday, March 23rd, LFMC will be changing appointment hours at both the Alto and South Side clinics to see patients from 9 am to 4 pm. Pharmacy and Lab will also be open these new, shorter hours. Saturday clinics are suspended. Hopefully, the shorter hours and suspension of Saturday clinics will be temporary, but for at least the next three weeks.


The LFMC Dental Clinic will be closed to all except emergency cases. Again, if you have symptoms of fever or recent onset of a dry cough, please call first: 984 5048


LFMC staff working as hard as they can to respond to your calls and concerns. Please realize that the volume of calls has increased exponentially, but a staff member will get back in touch with you as soon as possible. Please give as much notice as possible if you need prescription refills.

We want to thank our incredible community for helping us help you more efficiently in this difficult time. Please continue to follow all the New Mexico Department of Health recommendations which can be found here: Continue to check on your neighbors and friends who may need extra help. Together, we will get through this!

Dr. Wendy Johnson, Chief Medical Officer, La Familia Medical Center


March 16 2020: Listen to Dr. Wendy Johnson Interview with Richard Eeds / an Update


COVID-19 Update: March 14, 2020

As of this Saturday afternoon, March 14th, we are holding steady at 10 cases in New Mexico, still all related to travel or contact with a known positive case. We have test results for 247 people so far in the state, with 237 of them negative. That’s good news, as it means there is no documented community transmission yet. Still, it could be happening, Our state has had an incredible, cohesive and strong early response to the outbreak, so I think we have a good chance of minimizing the risks if we can all keep following recommendations.

This article, Social Distancing: This is Not a Snow Day has some great tips about how to stay safe, especially for kids and families.

And from our friend and colleague, Dr. Leslie Hayes at El Centro, here is the rationale for social distancing:

“Just a quick comment on social distancing. You are not doing this for yourself. You are doing this to protect other people, especially the sick and the elderly. Saying, “My risk is low,” completely misses the point.

A quick example from New Mexico. Our population is 2.1 million. 70% are adults, so we have 1.5 million adults. Assuming all 1.5 million of us went out tonight and did something with a 1% risk of COVID19, which is pretty low, still means 15,000 people get sick. Given a 20% hospitalization rate means 3,000 people in the hospital, which means (according to KOAT), we have just used up all the available hospital beds. We are probably completely out of ICU beds in that scenario.
Stay healthy, my friends, and please remember you are doing this to take care of not just yourself, but all the frail people in the community.”

And please remember, as above, this is a pandemic, not snowstorm. Unless you are on self-isolation or quarantine, you can go to a grocery store without risk. Just give yourself space, about 6 feet, from others. Please remember that there are people who need the products you are buying in bulk more than you do likely. No one needs 700 rolls of toilet paper. Keep checking in on your neighbors and asking if they need some help. And let’s remember to share everyone. I have seen many great offers of support on social media, so let’s keep up the good work and act as a community that supports each other. Big virtual hug to all of you offering to help others.

This week we have stepped up our triage of patients and staff. We are taking the temperature of all staff at the beginning of the day and those staff with fevers above 100 degrees will be sent home.

We are also setting up a triage for patients in the front of our clinics. All patients with respiratory symptoms or recent travel will be given masks and kept away from other patients. Again, we are recommending that any patient with an upcoming appointment who has traveled to the high risk areas or has respiratory cold symptoms please call us first before coming in.

Please consider rescheduling your appointment if you are only mildly ill or if you have had travel and your appointment is not urgent. We are working to scale up our telemedicine service very quickly, but for now, a doctor can call you and order lab tests or refills if you can’t come in. If you are a Dental or Behavioral Health patient, we will insist you reschedule your appointment if you have cold symptoms or fever. Currently, the high risk areas with confirmed community transmission are:
Europe (especially Italy)
South Korea
Seattle, Washington
Portland, Oregon
New York City, New York
San Francisco, California

We know a lot of folks in New Mexico have allergies this time of year. If you know you have allergies, you know how that feels, with watery eyes, runny nose, usually no sore throat and definitely not fever. If you know you have allergies and you think your symptoms are from allergies, please let us know. We will probably still ask you to wear a mask in the clinic just to be safe. We are asking our staff with allergies to do the same.

We do have the ability to test here, but still very limited and we are still only testing those with travel and symptoms or those who are high risk for serious illness (those older 60 or with other chronic illness) and symptoms. We will let you know if our testing capacity expands.

If you are short of breath or having severe symptoms, please go to the emergency room to be evaluated. We do not have the ability to do chest xrays at La Familia or to care for you if you are very ill and will need to be admitted to the hospital.

We love taking care of our Santa Fe Community and are so proud of how you all have responded to this challenging time. We are here for you.

Wendy Johnson MD MPH
Medical Director
La Familia Medical Center

COVID-19 Update, March 12

As of this writing, Thursday March 12, there are 4 confirmed cases in New Mexico, including one in Santa Fe. So far all are likely related to travel and there is no evidence of community transmission, but that is likely a matter of time. Our actions as a community can continue to slow down the spread of the virus and protect our most vulnerable. Please continue to follow the previous recommendations and remember:

  1.  If you are ill with MILD cold symptoms please call first before coming in (505.982.4425). Please do not come in to the clinic without an appointment. La Familia Medical Center (LFMC) wants to keep you and all patients safe, and there is little that can be done for you in the clinic if you have only mild symptoms.
  2. If you have a chronic condition and have an appointment with LFMC in the next couple of weeks that is not urgent, consider rescheduling. An LFMC provider or nurse may also be able call you back to answer questions, give you refills, etc.
  3. Continue to practice “social distancing,” frequent hand-washing and avoid large gatherings. If you feel ill with respiratory symptoms, please self-isolate and call your doctor before you come in.
  4. La Familia Medical Center does not have much testing capacity right now, that might change, however; in the mean-time LFMC staff are prioritizing those with symptoms and a travel history to get tested, especially older folks and those with chronic illness. Please call first if you think you fit this description. We hope that we will be able to test more widely soon.
  5. If you think you may have Covid-19, please call the New Mexico Department of Health phone number for more information about where to go and how to get tested: 1-855-600-3453

Additional Resources
New Mexico Department of Health
City of Santa Fe
Signup for The City of Santa Fe Rapid Alert System 

March 9, 2020

By:  Wendy Johnson MD, MPH

We are fortunate so far that no one in New Mexico has yet tested positive for COVID-19, but it is likely just a matter of time before cases are identified.

At La Familia Medical Center, we are taking precautions to protect the most vulnerable in our community from becoming infected. Currently, we are working with the New Mexico Department of Health, our other local hospitals and healthcare facilities, and the City of Santa Fe coordinating a community-wide response. We are dedicated to providing our patients and community with the most up-to-date information about how to best protect yourself, your family and our entire community.

First, it’s important to know how Corona virus is transmitted:

Corona virus is respiratory disease transmitted by droplet transmission. This means that an infected person can only spread it by oral secretions in droplet form, someone who might cough or sneeze near you or directly on you (probably needs to be no more than 6 feet away) can transmit it to you only if their oral secretions come in contact with your mucous membranes. That can happen in a few ways: 1. They cough and their oral secretions land on your lips, mouth or nose. 2. They cough and their oral secretions land on your skin or clothes, you touch that area and then touch your mouth or nose. 3. They cough and their oral secretions land on another surface, then you touch the surface and then touch your face (this is the least likely method).

The most important factor for infection control is to identify the possible source of infections (a confirmed infected patient who is symptomatic) and minimize the risk that they will spread it to others. The sicker someone is with lots of coughing, sneezing and sniffles; the more likely they are to transmit the virus. Asymptomatic people may also spread the virus, but since they are not actively coughing or sneezing, it’s probably much less likely for them to spread it to casual contacts.

If you are exposed to coronavirus and become symptomatic, it will probably take about 5 days to start to feel ill, usually with a fever and dry cough first. But the onset of symptoms could be as little as 2 or as many as 14 days, which is why many states are quarantining people who have been exposed for 2 weeks.

Finally, it likely that when we have all the data, the fatality rate overall for COVID-19 will be less than 1%. The vast majority of those deaths will be in people over 70 or with weakened immune systems. For most of us, getting the virus will feel just like a bad cold. We don’t need to worry about ourselves too much if we get it, but we do need to make sure we don’t spread it to others. We all need to be very careful and protective of those in our community who are older, pregnant, or have other chronic illnesses.

What we are doing at La Familia Medical Center to reduce the risk of spreading the virus:

Keeping sick patients isolated – We are asking those who have symptoms to call first, and identify themselves at the front desk so we can make sure they get efficient care while exposing the fewest number of other people. We are not turning any of our established patients away, but we are advising those with milder cold symptoms, like cough and fever without shortness of breath, to call us before coming in so we can advise them on next steps. For most folks, there will be nothing additional we can do for them at the clinic, and keeping those who do not need clinical attention out of the clinic will better protect other vulnerable patients and staff.

Hand washing: Regular soap completely eliminates the virus and works even better than hand sanitizer. We are washing our hands frequently, especially before and after each patient encounter, before and after we touch patients, and before and after we touch any potentially contaminated surfaces. We Here are some good videos on hand washing technique:

Masks: Masks will only partially protect the one person wearing the mask for a short time. Also, they can also give you a false sense that you are protected when you really are not. If a sick person coughs on you, even if you have a mask on, and you touch the area where they coughed, and then touch your face, you may become infected EVEN IF YOU ARE WEARING A MASK. The mask itself can become a vector for illness if you wear it for too long or take it off incorrectly. The same mask on a symptomatic person however can protect all of the dozens of people they may come in contact with while in the clinic and prevent them from spreading the infection to other surfaces. If we have limited masks, we will use them for patients first.

Cleaning surfaces! We will have to give special, extra attention to this. Bonnie and the nursing staff are working to make sure everyone knows proper cleaning procedure and follows it. If we do get coronavirus in New Mexico, we might designate only certain rooms for those with symptoms and other rooms in a separate pod for patients more likely to have weakened immune systems.

What you can do:

Social Distancing: Refrain from shaking hands and keep some distance between you strangers in public places if you can.

Hand Washing: Remember that soap and water is the best way to eliminate the virus. Wash your hands for 20 seconds and make sure to rub all surfaces, including between fingers and
thumbs and the sides of your hands. Hand sanitizer is a good option if you don’t have access to water.

Be careful what you touch: Try to minimize touching your face, any surfaces in public places, and your phone! This is the perfect time to work on decreasing your phone use and be attentive to cleaning your phone periodically.

Stocking up on supplies: Remember that this is a pandemic, not a snow storm. If you are not ill, the risk of going to the grocery store is very low. When a few people hoard all the supplies, those who need them most have to do without, and that can endanger all of us. For example, the people who probably need hand sanitizer most are our home health aides, who go in and out of the homes of the most vulnerable every day. Health care workers really need to have access to masks. And if you’ve ever tried to change a messy diaper in public without baby wipes, you know how much parents of infants need those wipes more than you do! Please remember that for most people, all they need to stay safe is soap and water, and to remember these tips.

If you are ill, stay home. This is critical. Please do not expose others if you are ill, even if you are sure it’s not coronavirus. Especially stay away from those over 60, pregnant women, or anyone who may have a weakened immune system. Stay home from work, and if you live with others, try to sleep separately and use a separate bathroom. If that is not possible, do not share towels with others.

Get a flu shot! So far this year about 30 million people have gotten the flu and 17,000 have died. The large number of flu cases combined with coronavirus has the potential to seriously strain our healthcare system. By protecting yourself, you can

Helping the most vulnerable in our community: Check in with neighbors who live alone or are older, offer to help them with shopping or other errands. Ask if there’s anything they need.