As some elementary students head back to partial in-school classes this week, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, along with several cabinet secretaries, discussed the state's trajectory with the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as precautions schools and early childhood providers are taking.
Public Education Secretary Ryan Stewart outlined some of the measures—such as regular surveillance; rapid response training and reporting; COVID-safety training; and forthcoming workshops for families.
"We're setting a very high bar and pulling out all the stops so our educators, our students and our families can have confidence in the preparations that have been made to bring back students safely," he said.
Early Childhood Secretary Elizabeth Groginsky, whose department launched July 1 during the pandemic, said thus far 75% of early childhood providers had been able to remain open, but the pandemic has nonetheless created challenges for both the providers, as well as parents.
"We know that given the fluctuations in families' employment and concerns about health that many providers are facing significant challenges. We know if providers are not open, families will have fewer safe [options]," she said. To that end, she noted, the department is "singularly focused" on helping providers either remain open or re-open.
Groginsky also noted that parent copayments for the childhood assistance program have been waived for September and October, and that eligibility is set at 200% of the federal poverty level. She encouraged any New Mexicans who believe they are eligible to "please reach out."
Both secretaries discussed services for children and families as New Mexico continues to report positive news as it relates to COVID-19, although today's case numbers were higher than they have been of late.
The governor today reported 161 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total thus far to 26,429. The new cases include the first for De Baca County, previously the only county in New Mexico with no cases. Chaves County led with new cases: 31, followed by Bernalillo County with 27 and Eddy County with 21. Santa Fe County had 11 new cases.
The governor also announced three additional deaths, including a man in his 20s from Bernalillo County. Lincoln and McKinley counties also had fatalities; there have now been 816 total deaths.
As of today, 80 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, 15 of them on ventilators.* A detailed report of new cases and fatalities is available at the end of this story.
Overall, New Mexico is meeting all of its gating criteria for re-opening, with the exception of testing, which has dipped below the target of 5,000 tests per day over a seven-day rolling average. Human Services Secretary David Scrase attributed that dip to a variety of factors, including weather-related damage at the Expo New Mexico testing site and fewer people seeking tests.
That latter variable may change as cold and flu season manifests. Scrase also reiterated the call for people to seek out flu shots now, although noting that COVID-19 mitigation efforts—such as masks and social distancing—were expected to curtail the flu season to a degree. Flu symptoms vary only slightly from COVID-19 symptoms, he said. Therefore, anyone with flu-like symptoms, "you are going to need medical attention; the test will be able to sort out the difference."
Scrase also, as he has previously, reiterated that New Mexicans should schedule any postponed healthcare, focusing this week on breast cancer screenings.
While the state continues to maintain good progress, Scrase and the governor reiterated the need for continued vigilance.
"New Mexico is in a very good place," Lujan Grisham said, "which is why I'm hoping we are going to continue in the next several weeks to talk about good news."
That good news might include reviewing youth sports and training, she said, pending a report from the state Medical Advisory Team next week, but isn't likely to include reopening bars or movie theaters anytime soon.
"I do want New Mexicans to feel like I do see a time where we can go to a movie, where we could to a bar or a nightclub, we could go to a concert," she said. "Likely those kinds of activities are not going to happen until there's a vaccine," she noted, adding that while there was a possibility of being able to allow them earlier, "I think by and large, New Mexicans can should expect those are at the end of the reopening spectrum."
Possible changes to the health order if New Mexico continues to maintain low daily cases and test positivity rates could include increasing capacity for tourism, indoor dining, retail and outdoor activities. But the emphasis, she said, remains on education.
"All of our success is really behavior by New Mexico residents," she said. "Congratulations are in order. However, we can do better and we've got to keep striving because the better we do and the more counties [qualify under state guidelines for school re-openings], the more we can do for in-person learning. We are well aware that this virus is incredibly challenging and unfair and that families with children have been really impacted in enormous ways and their challenges are great. Our job is to mitigate those to the highest degree."
- 27 new cases in Bernalillo County
- 31 new cases in Chaves County
- 3 new cases in Cibola County
- 2 new cases in Curry County
- 1 new case in De Baca County
- 17 new cases in Doña Ana County
- 21 new cases in Eddy County
- 7 new cases in Grant County
- 13 new cases in Lea County
- 1 new case in Lincoln County
- 1 new case in Los Alamos County
- 5 new cases in Luna County
- 2 new cases in McKinley County
- 1 new case in Quay County
- 5 new cases in Roosevelt County
- 5 new cases in Sandoval County
- 4 new cases in San Juan County
- 2 new cases in San Miguel County
- 11 new cases in Santa Fe County
- 2 new cases in Taos County
- A male in his 20s from Bernalillo County who had underlying conditions
- A female in her 80s from Lincoln County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
- A female in her 80s from McKinley 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:
- Adobe Assisted Living in Las Cruces
- Albuquerque Heights Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Albuquerque
- Atria Vista del Rio in Albuquerque
- Avamere at Roswell in Roswell
- Bear Canyon Rehabilitation Center in Albuquerque
- Belen Meadows Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Belen
- Bloomfield Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Bloomfield
- Brookdale Santa Fe
- Camino Healthcare in Albuquerque
- Casa del Sol Center in Las Cruces
- Casa de Oro Center in Las Cruces
- Casa de Paz Senior Assisted Living in Rio Rancho
- Casa Maria Health Care Center in Roswell
- Desert Springs Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Hobbs
- Fort Bayard Medical Center in Santa Clara
- Good Life Senior Living in Lovington
- Good Samaritan Society Las Cruces
- Good Samaritan Society Socorro
- Harmony Residential Care in Rio Rancho
- Heartfelt Manor in Roswell
- Heritage Assisted Living in Las Cruces
- Lakeview Christian Home in Carlsbad
- Las Palomas Center in Albuquerque
- LifeSpire Assisted Living in Albuquerque
- Lovington Healthcare in Lovington
- Mescalero Care Center in Mescalero
- Mission Arch Center in Roswell
- New Mexico State Veterans’ Home in Truth or Consequences
- Pacifica Senior Living in Santa Fe
- Palmilla Senior Living in Albuquerque
- Princeton Place in Albuquerque
- The Rehab Center of Albuquerque in Albuquerque
- Retirement Ranches in Clovis
- The Rio at Las Estancias in Albuquerque
- Sagecrest Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Las Cruces
- Sandia Ridge Center in Albuquerque
- San Juan Center in Farmington
- Silver City Care Center in Silver City
- Spanish Trails Rehabilitation Suites in Albuquerque
- Sunny Day Assisted Living in Gallup
- Sunset Villa Nursing Home in Roswell
- Village Retirement Community in Roswell
- Welbrook Senior Living Las Cruces
- Wheatfields Senior Living in Clovis
County totals are subject to change upon further investigation and determination of residency of individuals positive for COVID-19.
Cases among people being held by federal agencies
- Cibola County Correctional Center: 324
- Otero County Prison Facility: 281
- Otero County Processing Center: 159
- Torrance County Detention Facility: 44
Cases among people being held by the New Mexico Department of Corrections
- Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Valencia County: 31
- Lea County Correctional Facility: 4
- Northeast New Mexico Correctional Facility in Union County: 1
- Northwest New Mexico Correctional Center in Cibola County: 1
- Otero County Prison Facility: 473
- Penitentiary of New Mexico in Santa Fe County: 1
- Western New Mexico Correctional Facility in Cibola County: 4
*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.