Citing an exponential rise in COVID-19 cases in New Mexico and surrounding states, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham temporarily paused the state’s reopening and warned stricter actions could be taken if New Mexicans do not follow social distancing practices.
“So we are on hold,” she said during a remote press conference Thursday.
Lujan Grisham said she wants to see more data about the virus’ rate of transmission, and the sustained rise in cases, for an another week before moving forward with phase two of the plan to reopen New Mexico’s economy, allowing additional businesses to reopen and increasing the limit of people at mass gatherings.
Phase two of the three-part plan would allow bars, casinos and theaters to resume operations using COVID-19 safe practices and capacity limits, according to the plan crafted by the Economic Recovery Council.
In recent days, New Mexico has seen a steady rise in cases. The state had 128 cases Monday, 147 Tuesday, 156 Wednesday, and 207 Thursday, Lujan Grisham said. All regions across the state are seeing numbers of cases increase.
Dr. David Scrase, secretary of Human Services, said at the conference while the northwestern and central parts of the state remain below target in terms of spread, sharp increases have become evident in other parts of the state, including the southeast.
The surge in New Mexico cases corresponds with those of neighboring states such as Arizona, California and Texas.
Throughout the conference, Lujan Grisham and Scrase both stated travel to neighboring states, such as for graduations in Arizona, and residents from other states can have an impact on the virus.
Lujan Grisham said she believes New Mexicans and others gained a false sense of security when there was a drop in cases and measures were taken to reopen the economy. She noted seeing pictures and hearing about people throughout the state not taking social distancing precautions.
Scrase said that is the opposite of what should occur, and people should become more diligent in wearing masks and adhering to social distancing practices as restrictions are lifted more.
Repeatedly throughout the conference, Lujan Grisham and Scrase both urged people to wear masks, a symbol that has become politically charged. If people feel the need to make a political statement with their masks, Lujan Grisham suggested people write that message on their mask and wear it.
Lujan Grisham said New Mexicans need to wear their masks and warned if they don’t, she will be forced to look at using “other vehicles” to manage the spread of the disease.
Unlike many other states, New Mexico still has a stay-at-home order in place.
The best way to slow the spread of COVID-19, Lujan Grisham said, is for people to stay home when possible.
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 email@example.com.