New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said Thursday she will call for a special session of the Legislature next week with the purpose of getting pandemic relief to New Mexicans.
The announcement came during a livestreamed press conference Thursday afternoon in which the governor also pleaded with New Mexicans to follow the state’s stay-at-home instructions for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Lujan Grisham said the special session would be scheduled for Tuesday and that she expected it to last one day. Its focus will be to distribute $300 million in federal coronavirus relief.
The governor proposed the funds to be used for an additional $300 per week to those receiving unemployment assistance, housing assistance and grants to small businesses.
“We want to get this relief out to New Mexicans. That gives us a day to get the processes well underway that Wednesday before Thanksgiving so that the Monday when we get back, we’re pushing money out the door. It’s critical that we do that,” she said.
Support Local Journalism
Subscribe to the Roswell Daily Record today.
Support Local Journalism
In the press conference, Lujan Grisham encouraged New Mexicans to not have mixed-household gatherings for Thanksgiving and to support local businesses such as by ordering their holiday meals for curbside pickup.
On Nov. 13, the governor issued a “reset” of high-level restrictions including the stay-at-home instructions and closing in-person services for non-essential activities to help stem the spike of COVID-19 cases. The order lasts until Nov. 30.
“I know it’s hard because we’ve had eight months where we can’t be with our friends and families. We haven’t been able to travel. There’s been no meaningful familial celebrations as we’ve fought against this deadly virus. This holiday is going to be like all the others. It’s going to be hard,” she said.
“If you’re coming into contact with non-household members, even if it’s small, even if it’s outdoors, it isn’t going to be enough, because you’ve got to take masks off to eat Thanksgiving dinner. It is something high risk and something our modeling team is incredibly concerned about,” she said.
Dr. David Scrase, human services secretary, presented data from the Centers for Disease Control that suggested if one person in a household is carrying the coronavirus, other people in the house have a 53% chance of contracting the virus.
“If you are going to be with people from another household, everyone should wear masks. It doesn’t really matter if they’re in your family or not,” Scrase said.
In households where one member has COVID-19 or has been exposed, all members of the household should wear masks as well, Scrase said, adding his own family just went through a two-week period with everyone wearing masks.
To emphasize the stay-at-home instructions, Lujan Grisham showed slides illustrating the exponential spread and deaths. In the early days of the pandemic, it took New Mexico 100 days to get to 10,000 cases of COVID-19. Now, it takes seven days. To reach the first 200 deaths took 46 days, but now the state has seen 200 deaths in a two-week period.
“This is the outcome of that exponential spread. If we don’t get this under control as quickly as possible, you’re going to see 200 deaths in seven days and that exponential gruesome number will grow, but it doesn’t have to,” she said.
Scrase said if everyone follows the stay-at-home instructions and wears masks when they are in public, the curve of new daily cases could begin to level off by the first week of December.
The number of new daily cases continued to rise Thursday, however, with the state announcing 3,675 cases of COVID-19 in its daily update. Twelve deaths were also announced.
Thirty-one counties and three correctional institutions reported new cases on Thursday, led by Bernalillo County with 1,122. Doña Ana County reported 502, Sandoval County 270, Santa Fe County 266 and Valencia County 131.
Chaves County reported 110 new cases.
Three of the state’s deaths were in Eddy County; two each were from Bernalillo, Doña Ana and Sandoval counties; and one each in Lea, San Juan and Valencia counties.
Their ages ranged from a man in his 30s to two women and a man in their 90s.
The state’s total number of cases since March is now 74,116, with 3,563 in Chaves County. The Roswell Correctional Center has had a total of 219 cases.
As of Thursday, 774 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 in the state. Scrase presented a graphic showing the state’s number of available general hospital beds as of Thursday morning at 60 and the available ICU beds at 29.
City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or email@example.com.
To keep up with local coverage of the coronavirus, go to rdrnews.com/category/news/covid-19-situation/.