With COVID-19 cases continuing to rise in New Mexico, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham today announced rollbacks for some elements of the current public health order.
As of Monday, July 13, indoor dining at restaurants will no longer be allowed, the exercise exemption for masks has been eliminated and out-of-state visitors can no longer visit state parks.
"I know most New Mexicans, because they pay attention, are clear that the trends in New Mexico are going in the wrong direction, that we have reason for concern, and that we may have to make adjustments," Lujan Grisham said.
The amended public health order comes as the days tick closer to a proposed Aug. 3 re-opening for schools under a hybrid model in which students would switch off between online and in-person learning. That plan will not be able to go forward, the governor and other health officials said, unless the state can return to flattening the curve. Lujan Grisham said she could not pinpoint a specific date by which the decision to reopen schools would be made, but said districts were proceeding with readying for an Aug. 3 date.
Otherwise, the fall semester might be delayed by a weeks, or indefinitely or the state might have to proceed with only online classes, which the governor described as "poor substitute." The governor also announced changes to school sports that will be implemented if and when schools reopen.
The changes to the public health were announced as state officials report another day with a high number of new COVID-19 cases: 238. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham also announced six additional deaths, including two women in their 30s from McKinley and San Juan counties, which health officials emphasized as cases begin to rise among younger demographics.
As of today, 154 people are hospitalized and 32 are on ventilators. New Mexico has now had 533 deaths. There have been a total of 14,251 cases, 6,118 of which have been designated as recovered.* Details on new cases and fatalities are available at the end of this story.
New Mexico has experienced a "very rapid increase in cases," Human Services Secretary David Scrase said—a 79% increase over 16 days—as he reviewed this week's modeling reports for the state, noting the "astronomical" growth in Lea County, as well as growth above the state average in Eddy and Chaves counties.
The state also is currently not meeting its gating criteria—used to gauge safely reopening—for spread rate or contact tracing.
"We're seeing a lot more cases," Scrase said, "and now we're seeing them everywhere."
In addition to discussing the current state of COVID-19 in New Mexico, Scrase also shared research emerging on potential effects of the disease, including lung scarring and strokes among younger patients, as well as male infertility.
“These are not things to be taken lightly,” Scrase said, “and I think as time goes on…as we see these changes occurring in New Mexico…it’s kind of waking us up to the fact that this is a disease that affects all ages, and care needs to be taken for young adults as well as older adults.” This is particularly true, he notes, as cases begin to rise in younger age groups in the state.
To reinforce the medical importance of following COVID-safe practices (wearing masks, washing hands, socially distancing), Nancy Wright, a Las Vegas pediatrician and president of the New Mexico Medical Society, discussed the need to use these measures as the only tools available until vaccines and medication become available. The situation, she noted, is comparable to the emergence of AIDS in the 1980s, in which people were asked to change their behavior as scientists sought to find ways to test and treat the emergent disease.
"For right now, these are strategies that we have," Wright said. "And for now it's all we have as far as preventing this virus…if you care about the suffering of others…wearing a mask is the right thing to do."
Officials also addressed reports of long lines for COVID-19 testing, as well as long turn-around times for results. Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel noted that different testing sites—there are more than 100 across the state—will have different criteria and turnaround times.
"We very much welcome our private partners," Kunkel said, "but test sites hosted by other entities can require different criteria." For example, the public health testing sites will test asymptomatic people and will turn around results in 24 to 48 hours. Some private testing facilities can take 7 to 14 days to produce results because they are being processed at an out-of-state labs, she said.
As for changes to the public health order, the governor did not rule out making more if New Mexico doesn't return to flattening the curve, a scenario she and health officials described as wholly dependent on people adhering to the public health orders.
"I am not afraid to make incredibly tough decisions," Lujan Grisham said. "I got elected to govern the state and to make the decisions based on the evidence at hand that I think are in the best interest of the state. My north star is to be unequivocally focused on saving lives and protecting New Mexicans: all ages, all locations, all persuasions, all genders, all ethnicities, all races, whatever it takes."
- 97 new cases in Bernalillo County
- 4 new cases in Chaves County
- 1 new case in Cibola County
- 20 new cases in Curry County
- 21 new cases in Doña Ana County
- 6 new cases in Eddy County
- 2 new cases in Grant County
- 2 new cases in Hidalgo County
- 7 new cases in Lea County
- 2 new cases in Lincoln County
- 20 new cases in McKinley County
- 2 new cases in Otero County
- 3 new cases in Quay County
- 4 new cases in Rio Arriba County
- 2 new cases in Roosevelt County
- 17 new cases in San Juan County
- 11 new cases Sandoval County
- 10 new cases in Santa Fe County
- 6 new cases 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 who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
- A male in his 70s from Bernalillo County who was hospitalized, had underlying conditions and was a resident of the Spanish Trails Rehabilitation Suites facility in Albuquerque
- A male in his 70s from Curry County
- A female in her 30s from McKinley County who was hospitalized
- A female in her 80s from McKinley County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
- A female in her 30s from San Juan County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions.
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
- 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 Juan Tabo Place in Albuquerque
- Camino Healthcare in Albuquerque
- Casa del Sol Center in Las Cruces
- Casa de Oro Center in Las Cruces
- Casa Real in Santa Fe
- Desert Springs Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Hobbs
- Good Samaritan Society in Grants
- Little Sisters of the Poor in Gallup
- Mimbres Memorial Nursing Home in Deming
- Princeton Place in Albuquerque
- Red Rocks Care Center in Gallup
- The Rio at Las Estancias in Albuquerque
- Sagecrest Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Las Cruces
- Sandia Ridge Center in Albuquerque
- Sombrillo Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Los Alamos
- Spanish Trails Rehabilitation Suites in Albuquerque
- The Village at Northrise in Las Cruces
According to a state news release, previously reported numbers included two cases that have been identified as duplicates: one in McKinley County, one in Sandoval County. Two cases were not lab confirmed: one in Santa Fe County, one in Valencia County; these have all now been corrected. County totals are subject to change upon further investigation and determination of residency of individuals positive for COVID-19.
- Bernalillo County: 2,816
- Catron County: 2
- Chaves County: 151
- Cibola County: 244
- Colfax County: 9
- Curry County: 227
- Doña Ana County: 1,306
- Eddy County: 122
- Grant County: 29
- Guadalupe County: 20
- Harding County: 1
- Hidalgo County: 64
- Lea County: 230
- Lincoln County: 18
- Los Alamos County: 11
- Luna County: 113
- McKinley County: 3,567
- Otero County: 67
- Quay County: 12
- Rio Arriba County: 128
- Roosevelt County: 76
- Sandoval County: 802
- San Juan County: 2,628
- San Miguel County: 23
- Santa Fe County: 302
- Sierra County: 14
- Socorro County: 61
- Taos County: 51
- Torrance County: 47
- Union County: 8
- Valencia County: 168
Cases among people being held by federal agencies
- Cibola County Correctional Center: 2
- Otero County Prison Facility: 275
- Otero County Processing Center: 149
- Torrance County Detention Facility: 43
Cases among people being held by the Mexico Department of Corrections
- Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Valencia County: 6
- Northwest New Mexico Correctional Center in Cibola County: 1
- Otero County Prison Facility: 457
- 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.