COVID-19: New Mexico Shuts Down Manufactured Home Builder Solitaire Homes in Deming
According to a report by the Deming Headlight, Solitaire Manufactured Homes in Deming has temporarily suspended home production after receiving a cease and desist order served by the New Mexico Environmental Department.
Brett Jenkins, general manager of Solitaire Homes is frustrated and confused over the cease and desist order. Jenkins contends he has complied with the New Mexico Department of Health and Safety and OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) since spring regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and the state’s Rapid Response protocols.
“We have gone above and beyond since spring when this pandemic came about,” said Jenkins. “We initiated mandatory mask wearing, touchless temperature checks, provided signage and made social distancing a directive. Employees who are symptomatic are sent home and must get tested. We have worked with the Rapid Response team whenever we had someone test positive and followed all of their requirements to date.”
The New Mexico Environmental Department announced a temporary shut down (14 days) of Deming Manufactured Homes LLC, (Solitaire Manufactured Homes), based on its Rapid Response COVID-19 Watchlist. The list shows New Mexico places of employment that have two or more rapid responses in the last 14 days. There are currently 134 establishments on the Watchlist.
A rapid response is initiated when the state learns of a positive COVID-19 case in the workplace. NMED or the state agency initiating the rapid response will offer direction to establishments regarding testing, quarantining, isolating, disinfecting, and COVID Safe Practices.
Challenges Designation As “A Public Health Risk”
The Watchlist currently only includes organizations for which NMED conducts rapid responses, including grocery stores, restaurants, retail stores, gyms, salons and business offices. The Department will include other establishments on the watchlist soon.
“We do not fall under those categories,” Jenkins stated. “We have been in compliance throughout. I have been investigated and cleared of complaints twice by OSHA.”
In Auust, Solitaire Homes an employee tested positive, and within four hours Jenkins was contacting the state health department. The NM Environmental Department reported five has tested positive prior to the shutdown.
“I have a great working relationship with Dr.(Victor) Cruz and we began testing here at the plant.” Jenkins said. “We have cooperated with the health departments in terms of contract tracing and I did all the right things in compliance. We were told we are doing great.”
Jenkins has reached out to local leaders Sen.John Arthur Smith and State Rep. Candie Sweetser. “The logic behind this is mind-numb,” Jenkins said. “…No warning or answers from the health department. I need to know how we are a public health risk,”
A lack of communication has been frustrating for Jenkins, along with the stoppage of manufacturing operations. He has had to cancel truck deliveries of materials and deal with the financial loss of closing the plant. “We have a backlog of orders to fill that we will have to push back and the loss in sales is frustrating,” Jenkins explained.
The 150,000 square foot facility employs 150 who were sent home on Wednesday for two weeks. “I paid them for the day’s work, but now they will file for unemployment to make ends meet,” Jenkins said.