Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the state Department of Health said Wednesday four people have tested presumptive positive for COVID-19, the novel coronavirus.

After a press conference earlier in the day to announce the first three cases, health officials issued notice around 6:30 pm of the fourth.

The newest case is a woman in her 60s from Santa Fe County with known recent travel to the New York City area.
Two cases involve a Socorro County husband and wife, both in their 60s, who recently traveled to Egypt. Both are at home in isolation. The third case is a woman in her 70s in Bernalillo County who recently also went to New York. She also is isolated at her home. Those results will now be confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control.

Lujan Grisham declared a public health emergency and emphasized the importance that all three cases involved people who had traveled "because it means we aren't seeing the kind of community spread which we are working very diligently to prevent in the state."

Lujan Grisham said the state is monitoring all three people, and that the couple from Socorro had been self-isolating since their return from Egypt.

By declaring a public health emergency, the governor said the General Services Department will be charged with "making sure goods and supplies will be available," the Department of Finance and Administration will "immediately identify emergency fund" to make sure "government continues to operate" and will allow the Department of Health and Homeland Security to credential "health care professionals around the country and other countries" available to the state.

The governor said she has canceled all out-of-state travel for state employees, and asked non-essential state employees to work from home. She said the state also is "proactively and aggressively canceling large public events" including the Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque, and she is encouraging local governments and the private sector to follow suit.

The governor gave press conference with public health officials.
The governor gave press conference with public health officials. | Courtesy KRQE Channel 13

For the public, Lujan Grisham reiterated people should stay home if sick, wash their hands, avoid travel and public gatherings.

Officials said the state is "nowhere near" its capacity for testing, and currently has the ability to administer 2,400 tests, and will be implementing drive-through testing.

"You should think about not going to church," she said. "You should think about not going to your community meeting…if you minimize contact with other human beings, you will help us contain this virus."

The governor and officials said the state has been actively surveilling for coronavirus since January, and is confident in its response.

"No one who is leading this response is panicked," Lujan Grisham said. "No one in New Mexico should be panicked. We've been in touch with the private sector, insurance companies, providers, hospitals so we can assure the very best possible response."

"We expect to see more travel-related cases," Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase said in a statement issued Wednesday night. "All New Mexicans can help us and help each other to minimize the risk of spread by taking up preventive measures. That's why the guidance issued by the state today was so essential."

State COVID-19 website: https://cv.nmhealth.org

Coronavirus hotline, 1-855-600-3453