New Mexicans need to remain vigilant because the rising COVID-19 cases statewide indicate people are growing lax.
That was the general message delivered by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and other state officials, who say plans to move to the next phase of reopening July 1 have been paused, and plans to open schools in August will be thwarted if residents don't continue adhering to social distancing and mask requirements intended to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The announcement came as health officials reported 207 new COVID-19 cases today, bringing the statewide total thus far to 11,192. Today's new cases follow a week of rising cases in the state, rising rates of transmission and a failure to meet half of the gating criteria for the state.
As of today, 135 people are hospitalized, 41 on ventilators. The health department has designated 5,047 COVID-19 cases as recovered.
The state also reported five new deaths; New Mexico has now had 485 total fatalities. A complete list of new cases, fatalities and statewide figures is available at the end of this story.
"Our goal should be to reduce cases," Lujan Grisham said as she introduced today's new case numbers. "What happens when we reduce cases? Fewer deaths, fewer hospitalizations and we are managing the virus. So, we are clearly not there and, while that's not enough data to tell you what's going to happen over the next several days or what the trends are looking like, this is not what I think is the best news. We think a lot of that are the personal mitigating behaviors are not being met."
In addition to rising case numbers, New Mexico's effective rate of transmission also has been on the rise in four of the five state's health regions. "We don't want the spread rate to be going up," Health and Human Services Secretary David Scrase said. "We want it to be going down."
New Mexico is in a particularly precarious position because border states Arizona and Texas have both had case surges and massive pressure put on their hospital systems. Scrase said that both visitors to the state as well as New Mexicans leaving the state, create risk of new cases. "Because people move from state to state, this creates problems for us," he noted.
Scrase said New Mexico health officials know of cases from New Mexicans who went to graduation parties and a baseball tournament in Arizona and brought back cases. Similar situations have unfolded from travel to Texas, he said.
"We know of cases in New Mexico of people who have gone across the border, toward Lubbock, toward Amarillo, and have come back infected with COVID and that is another way our case counts go up," he said.
New Mexico currently has a 14-day mandatory quarantine for people arriving in New Mexico via an airport, and Lujan Grisham indicated she would be willing to take more stringent measures, but did not detail what those might be.
Moreover, the state also is not currently meeting, as of today, its testing goals of 5,000 tests per day—falling slightly short with 4,600, its targeted transmission rate of 1.05 or less (it's at 1.12 today), nor its 36-hour goal for contacting people who are connected to people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
New Mexico went into its current phase of re-openings on June 1. People being out more and visiting more places requires more diligence, Scrase said.
"It would appear for our recent data, we're not doing as good a job," he said. "Anytime there's any kind of re-opening, we have to do even more. We have to do more of preventive measures, not less."
While a previous spike in cases appeared to be attributable to the rising cases at Otero County Prison facility, the seven-day average look makes it clear that cases are rising, he said.
This message, repeated throughout the public briefing, has become even more direct this week as education officials released a plan for students to return to school in August. That plan—described as a hybrid measure—would alternate students attending school in person versus participating remotely from home. Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists, who are helping the state model COVID-19, looked at a variety of scenarios to determine the safest one for school re-opening. Switching off between in-person and virtual learning had the best outcomes, Scrase said.
This hybrid model, Lt. Gov. Howie Morales noted, will allow the state to either move forward with more in-person instruction or scale back to more virtual education as the situation warrants.
"If we have an outbreak or a spike in cases, we can revert back to that hybrid model," Morales said, adding "I want to be extremely clear with the public and people across the state of New Mexico, we're at this point to talk about students re-entering because of the work you as New Mexicans have done." Nonetheless, "there is still more that can done."
And, re-opening schools could be jeopardized if New Mexico doesn't make progress in learning to live with COVID-19 and curtail the spread, the governor said.
"We can not go back to school unless we manage this virus and the spread of this virus better," she said. "We owe it to every single student and their parent and their educator, and if we don't do a better job, we're signaling to New Mexico families that we don't care enough about their education to do a better job managing this virus."
Lujan Grisham also referenced photographs she's received from the public showing residents not wearing masks and/or socially distancing in certain places.
"New Mexicans have gotten really lax about wearing masks and taking it seriously because it felt like we were safe," she said. "Until there's a vaccine, we are not."
Re-opening some parts of the economy, she said "is not an invitation" to ignore the public health laws, which still call for staying at home when possible and wearing a mask when in public. "If you care about the state and you respect your fellow New Mexicans, even if you disagree about wearing a mask, it's not a political statement," she said, adding, "If you want a mask to be a political statement, write your political statement on your mask."
In light of the recent numbers, plans to move to the next phase of re-openings, which includes limited openings for theaters, bars and casinos, have been paused.
"It doesn't mean we won't get to Phase 2," Lujan Grisham said. "It doesn't mean I might not make an announcement about it in two, three, four, five days…it depends on you."
- 60 new cases in Bernalillo County
- 2 new cases in Chaves County
- 3 new cases in Cibola County
- 2 new cases in Curry County
- 46 new cases in Doña Ana County
- 2 new cases in Eddy County
- 1 new case in Hidalgo County
- 3 new cases in Lea County
- 1 new case in Lincoln County
- 7 new cases in Luna County
- 37 new cases in McKinley County
- 1 new case in Otero County
- 3 new cases in Rio Arriba County
- 1 new case in Roosevelt County
- 9 new cases in Sandoval County
- 18 new cases in San Juan County
- 3 new case in Santa Fe County
- 2 new cases in Sierra County
- 2 new cases in Socorro County
- 2 new cases in Torrance County
- 1 new case in Valencia County
- 1 new case among New Mexico Corrections Department inmates at the Otero County Prison Facility
- A male in his 60s from Bernalillo County. The individual had underlying conditions and was a resident of the Camino Healthcare facility in Albuquerque.
- A male in his 80s from McKinley County. The individual was hospitalized and had underlying conditions.
- A male in his 50s from San Juan County. The individual was hospitalized and had underlying conditions.
- A male in his 70s from San Juan County. The individual had underlying conditions and was a resident of the Cedar Ridge Inn facility in Farmington.
- A female in her 80s from San Juan County. The individual had underlying conditions and was a resident of the BeeHive Homes of Farmington facility in Farmington.
The Department of Health has identified at least one positive COVID-19 case in residents and/or staff in the past 28 days at the following facilities:
- Advanced Health Care of Albuquerque in Albuquerque
- Albuquerque Heights Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Albuquerque
- Artesia Healthcare and Rehabilitation in Artesia
- BeeHive Homes of Farmington in Farmington
- BeeHive Homes of Gallup in Gallup
- Blue Horizon Assisted Living in Las Cruces
- Bonney Family Home in Gallup
- Brookdale Tramway Ridge in Albuquerque
- Brookdale Santa Fe in Santa Fe
- Camino Healthcare in Albuquerque
- Camino Retirement Apartments in Albuquerque
- Casa Real in Santa Fe
- Cedar Ridge Inn in Farmington
- Clayton Nursing and Rehab in Clayton
- Dungarvin New Mexico, LLC in Gallup
- Good Samaritan Society in Grants
- Heartland Continuing Care Center in Portales
- The Jim Wood Home in Hatch
- Laguna Rainbow Elderly Care in Casa Blanca
- Life Care Center of Farmington in Farmington
- Little Sisters of the Poor in Gallup
- Mimbres Memorial Nursing Home in Deming
- Mission Arch Center in Roswell
- Namaste House Assisted Living in Farmington
- Princeton Place in Albuquerque
- Red Rocks Care Center in Gallup
- Robin House Assisted Living Center in Albuquerque
- South Valley Care Center in Albuquerque
- Sundance Care Home in Gallup
- Tohatchi Area Opportunity Services (TAOS) in Tohatchi
- Uptown Rehabilitation Center in Albuquerque
- The Village at Alameda in Albuquerque
- The Village at Northrise in Las Cruces
According to a state news release, previously reported numbers included four cases that have been identified as not lab confirmed: one in Bernalillo County, one in Luna County, one in Sandoval County and one in Socorro County. One case in Bernalillo County was determined to be an out-of-state resident. These have been corrected. County totals are subject to change upon further investigation and determination of residency of individuals positive for COVID-19.
- Bernalillo County: 1,937
- Catron County: 2
- Chaves County: 71
- Cibola County: 204
- Colfax County: 9
- Curry County: 125
- Doña Ana County: 806
- Eddy County: 63
- Grant County: 17
- Guadalupe County: 20
- Harding County: 1
- Hidalgo County: 40
- Lea County: 89
- Lincoln County: 9
- Los Alamos County: 7
- Luna County: 63
- McKinley County: 3,215
- Otero County: 34
- Quay County: 5
- Rio Arriba County: 89
- Roosevelt County: 55
- Sandoval County: 701
- San Juan County: 2,268
- San Miguel County: 18
- Santa Fe County: 206
- Sierra County: 9
- Socorro County: 59
- Taos County: 37
- Torrance County: 42
- Union County: 6
- Valencia County: 99
Cases among people being held by federal agencies
- Cibola County Correctional Center: 2
- Luna County Detention Center: 1
- Otero County Prison Facility: 275
- Otero County Processing Center: 146
- Torrance County Detention Facility: 32
Cases among people being held by the Mexico Department of Corrections
- Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Valencia County: 1
- Northwest New Mexico Correctional Center in Cibola County: 1
- Otero County Prison Facility: 427
- Penitentiary of New Mexico in Santa Fe County: 1
*Per the health department, hospitalization figures include people who were tested elsewhere but are hospitalized in New Mexico, but don't include people who were tested here but are hospitalized out of state.