New Mexico COVID-19 Cases Jump to 191

Updated: Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham discusses cases/ orders self-isolation for air travelers

New Mexico experienced a big jump in COVID-19 cases reported today: 55 additional positives, bringing the state's total to 191. The state has tested 9,387 people. There remain no new deaths following the one reported death last Sunday.

As of today's report, 17 people have been hospitalized and according to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in a public Facebook live address at 5 pm, six of them are in critical care or on ventilators.

Those 17 people may include ones who who tested positive for COVID-19 out of state but currently hospitalized in New Mexico, but does not include New Mexicans who tested positive for COVID-19 and may have been transferred to a hospital out of state.

Lujan Grisham also said that 47% of the cases reported in New Mexico are people 45 years old or younger.

"That's a really important data point," she said, "because it tells us younger people who are more mobile, who are maybe not engaged as productively in social distancing as some other populations, continue to be potentially a high risk factor… I want us all to think about how we might do that better."

Santa Fe had seven new reported cases today, bringing the total to 29. Two new counties, Roosevelt and Valencia, now have cases as well. The full breakdown of new cases and total cases can be found below.

New Mexico's latest figures come as the US overall experiences 85,000 cases in all 50 states. The New York Times today released publicly its data in an effort "to broaden understanding of the virus's toll."

Lujan Grisham also issued an executive order today that requires people arriving by airplane to the state to self-isolate for at least 14 days to help combat the spread of COVID-19. Those who fail to do so "will be subject to forced isolation or quarantine by the New Mexico Health Department," a news release says.

The order comes, reportedly, because "many" of New Mexico's COVID-19 cases have come from instate or international travel, according to the order. Health officials have previously stated that both Bernalillo and Santa Fe County have community spread, meaning cases in which there is no known cause such as travel or contact with someone who has the virus. The governor's press secretary was initially unable to provide a number or percentage for travel-related cases, but those statistics were made available during Lujan Grisham's live update.

Approximately 45% of the current cases are travel-related, and about 20% are related to those original travel cases. Another 20% are under investigation and approximately 15% appear to be community spread.

"That's the number that gives us real pause," Lujan Grisham said, noting that an infected person could then infect another 2.5 people within a few days and as many as 400 in the course of 30 days.

"That means we get to a place where we have insufficient healthcare resources to meet the needs of the individuals who would require health and hospital care and support," she said. "That's this whole effort is just making sure don't get beyond that capacity."

As difficult as the situation is now, Lujan Grisham said she expects it to worsen in early April, and that she would have more information next week.

"Having your numbers double in three days is not the best sign we could see," she said regarding today's uptick in cases, noting that it's still not as rapid as some of the virus epicenters in the US. "It means there's more social distancing that must be done and it means I need more information about the rate of transmission, the number of positive cases and where they're coming from." Over the weekend and into next week, she said,  "Everyone in New Mexico should expect…we will have sufficient data to come to you and show you by the numbers where we are at bending that curve and what we're doing about protecting capacity and what we're doing,  all of us, to protect every single New Mexican."

Travel order, school closures

Today's travel order acknowledges the high rate of cases in the state traced to people who have traveled. It reads: "Because some individuals infected with COVID-19 are asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms, travelers may be unaware they are carrying the virus. For this reason, persons arriving in New Mexico's airports must self-isolate for a period of time sufficient to ensure that the public health and safety is not jeopardized."

Under the order, people who are self-isolating can only leave their place of lodging to receive medical care. Family or household members can visit them, but then also need to self-isolate for at least two weeks.

The governor also has directed the Department of Health to take necessary measures to ensure the screening and isolation of air travelers coming into New Mexico, including executing temporary holds of individuals or groups, obtaining court orders to require isolation and imposing civil and/or criminal penalties. The order does not apply to airline employees or people performing public safety or public health functions, such as "military personnel, federal employees, employees of national defense contractors, emergency first responders, health care workers or employees of shipping and freight companies.

Other states have passed similar measures for domestic travel, such as Alaska, Florida and Hawaii.

The governor and Education Secretary Ryan Stewart also announced today that public schools will be closed through the end of this academic year.

New Mexicans are under stay-at-home orders. Those who report symptoms of COVID-19 infection, such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath, should call their health care provider or the NMDOH COVID-19 hotline immediately (1-855-600-3453).

Today’s new cases:

  • 27 new cases in Bernalillo County
  • 1 new case in Cibola County
  • 1 new case in Eddy County
  • 1 new case in Lea County
  • 2 new cases in McKinley County
  • 1 new case in Rio Arriba County
  • 1 new case in Roosevelt County
  • 5 new cases in Sandoval County
  • 3 new cases in San Juan County
  • 7 new cases in Santa Fe County
  • 5 new cases in Taos County
  • 1 new case in Valencia County

Statewide totals

  • Bernalillo County: 82
  • Cibola County: 2
  • Chaves County: 4
  • Curry County: 1
  • Doña Ana County: 16
  • Eddy County: 2
  • Lea County: 2
  • McKinley County: 5
  • Rio Arriba County: 3
  • Roosevelt County: 1
  • Sandoval County: 15
  • San Juan County: 17
  • San Miguel County: 1
  • Santa Fe County: 29
  • Socorro County: 2
  • Taos County: 8
  • Valencia County: 1
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