Home News COVID-19 Situation Too early to reopen economy, governor says

Too early to reopen economy, governor says

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Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham Wednesday said that it is too premature to lift a public health order suspending the operation of businesses not deemed essential by the state.

“It’s still too early. I wish it wasn’t, but this virus is vicious,” she said during a press conference streamed online.

Lujan Grisham also said any plans to allow businesses in New Mexico to reopen that have not been deemed essential must be made based on public health and done statewide to minimize infections, deaths, and ensure the safety of first responders.

“We are not seeing any benefit at all from having one community be different than another,” Lujan Grisham said.

She said Wednesday the virus can still be transmitted in smaller groups. “It doesn’t care whether you are in a small county or community, in terms of population, or an urban center,” she said.

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The state has issued a public health order requiring businesses not deemed essential by the state to suspend operations until the order is rescinded, as a means of curbing the virus and to avoid the healthcare system being overwhelmed by infected patients.

One business owner who took part in a virtual press conference hosted Monday by the Republican Party of New Mexico said rather than uniform standards across the state, requirements on whether businesses can be open should vary, based on the population density and number of cases within a county.

Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, also pushed back against allegations by Steve Pearce, Republican Party of New Mexico chair, that the restrictions favor big box stores that can continue to operate while small businesses must close down.

“The notion that if you’ve got risk at one place, it’s fair to have risk at two places is not an effective strategy when you are dealing with a public health emergency,” she said.

Restrictions on how many people can be in a large store at one time have been put in place, she said, and the only reason businesses are deemed essential and remain open is to provide food and other needed services to individuals.

Lujan Grisham at the press conference also reported 80 additional cases of COVID-19. The latest numbers bring the total number of confirmed cases in the state to 1,484. No new deaths from COVID-19 were announced. The death toll in New Mexico from COVID-19 now stands at 36.

No new positive test results for COVID-19 were reported Wednesday in Chaves County, according to a press release provided by the Office of the Governor. The number of positive cases reported so far in Chaves County stands at 19.

By county, the new infections included: 13 in Bernalillo County, one in Cibola County, four in Doña Ana County, one in Grant County, 38 in McKinley County, nine in Sandoval County, 11 in San Juan County, two in Santa Fe County and one in Socorro County.

A total of 90 individuals in New Mexico are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, of which 22 are on ventilators, Lujan Grisham said.

Kathy Kunkel, New Mexico Secretary of Health, said at the press conference that as of Wednesday, 32,850 tests had been administered at 60 sites in each of New Mexico’s 33 counties.

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

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or breakingnews@rdrnews.com.