Calling a resurgence in cases of COVID-19 “the most serious emergency New Mexico has ever faced,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham gave a grim assessment of the state’s battle to contain the virus, announcing several new restrictions meant to limit the spread of the virus, and warning that additional actions could be taken.
Speaking from the governor’s residence on the final day of her 14-day quarantine after coming in contact with an individual who tested positive for the disease, Lujan Grisham, during a press conference via Zoom, painted a picture of a state now overwhelmed by the virus.
“The virus is winning,” she said, adding that the state’s three-week rolling average of cases, positivity rate and hospitalizations have all “doubled and more.”
That has come as measures to curtail the spread — such as mask wearing, hand washing, social distancing and reducing travel — has ebbed.
“We’ve let up. We’ve succumbed to the national rhetoric that it is not as bad of a problem,” Lujan Grisham said.
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As a result, the governor said she will sign a revised emergency public health order. Starting today, food and drink establishments that serve alcohol will face a mandatory nightly closing time of 10 p.m.
“We are seeing that at these establishments, that people are staying far too long and engaging in activity that is not safe in a COVID world,” she said.
Also among the orders, sizes of limits on public gatherings will drop from 10 to five people.
Maximum occupancy for hotels who have completed the New Mexico Safe Certified Training Program will drop from 75% to 60%, while those that have not completed the program will be reduced from 50% to 25%, according to a release from the governor’s office.
Out-of-state visitors from 42 states deemed high risk will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days. Lujan Grisham added the state can and will enforce mandatory quarantines of individuals who do not comply.
State breaks another record
The new measures come on the same day that the New Mexico Department of Health reported 672 additional positive tests for COVID-19 across the state, bringing total cases in New Mexico since March to 34,958.
Thursday’s numbers surpassed Wednesday’s record-breaking daily case total of 577. Of the cases reported Thursday, 37 were in Chaves County. To date in Chaves County, 27,453 tests for the virus have been conducted with 1,664 testing positive.
Currently in New Mexico, the governor said statewide, there is an 8.1% positivity rate. But Chaves County surpasses that number with a positivity rate of 9.5%, according to the Department of Health’s website.
Other counties that reported high numbers of cases were Bernalillo County with 303; Doña Ana County with 89; Sandoval County 29; San Juan County 28; Lea County 28; Eddy County 26; Valencia County 20; Santa Fe County 18; Curry County 17; and Luna and McKinley County each had 14. All other counties reported less than 10 cases.
Six new positive results were also found among federal agencies at the Otero County Prison Facility; two New Mexico Corrections Department inmates at the Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Valencia County; and there new cases among New Mexico Corrections Department inmates at the Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility in Doña Ana County, according to the Department of Health.
One woman in her 70s from Luna County who was hospitalized with underlying conditions died bringing the state’s COVID-19 fatalities to 922. Chaves County remains at 16 deaths since March.
Hospitalizations, Lujan Grisham said, have risen 74% in the last month, leading to worries about the state’s health care capacity. She also braced the state for a higher death toll in the coming weeks.
She said the pattern in a surge in cases is often followed by an increase in transmissions and then a rise in deaths.
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.