Home News COVID-19 Situation Governor: Roswell being looked at to handle COVID-19 surge

Governor: Roswell being looked at to handle COVID-19 surge


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Roswell is one of several cities that could see a U.S. Army field hospital or similar facility to handle a surge of COVID-19 cases, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said late Tuesday afternoon.

In a live-streamed press conference, Lujan Grisham said President Donald Trump had agreed to grant New Mexico a field hospital. The exact size of the hospital, which is not yet known, along with state data on COVID-19 cases will determine where the field hospital will be located, but Albuquerque is a likely candidate.

“We’re going to have a field hospital. We’re going to locate that field hospital, which will have ICU beds, in areas where we think we’re going to have the kind of surges where that leveraging of capacity will make the most sense,” she said.

Additional facilities are being identified, however.

“We also already have the Army Corps of Engineers on the ground looking at creating additional hospital bed capacity,” Lujan Grisham said, adding the state has secured a former Lovelace Hospital in Albuquerque, increasing bed capacity by about 200 in Bernalillo County.

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“They’re looking in Gallup, Farmington, Roswell, Las Cruces and Santa Fe for additional locations where we build out surge capacity,” she said.

Roswell Mayor Dennis Kintigh said Roswell/Chaves County Emergency Services Manager Karen Sanders and Deputy City Manager Mike Mathews have been keeping up with that possibility.

“Here’s what our understanding is. The National Guard is looking at state-owned and -maintained facilities first to see what would work for them,” Kintigh said.

“It’s understandable because it makes things a lot simpler,” he said.

Those facilities include the National Guard Armory, the New Mexico Youth Challenge Academy or possibly at Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell, he said.

“We are prepared to cooperate with them in any way and lend them all the assistance they need,” Kintigh said.

Kintigh said he has also been briefed by the chief operating officers of both Lovelace Regional Hospital and Eastern New Mexico Medical Center on their plans for dealing with a surge in COVID-19 cases.

“I know that both hospitals are ready to begin dealing with individuals,” he said.

In the press conference, Lujan Grisham stressed that social distancing is still necessary to help contain the spread of the virus so as not to overwhelm medical facilities. It could be the middle of May before health orders could be relaxed, she said.

New Mexico Secretary of Human Services Dr. David R. Scrase discussed in the press conference data showing social distancing is working. Specifically, the doubling rate — the amount of days it takes for confirmed cases to double in number — is increasing.

“We started out in New Mexico with a doubling rate very similar to that of New York, at two. We believe the social distancing interventions that have been made through the cooperation of the people of New Mexico, that doubling time has gone to three,” he said.

“That makes a substantial difference in the number of cases that we’re seeing in New Mexico. The more we can separate ourselves, the less opportunity people in New Mexico have to get the virus from someone else,” he said.

To keep up with local coverage of the coronavirus, go to rdrnews.com/category/news/covid-19-situation/.

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com.


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