Serving the High Plains

Governor lays out plan to reopen

New Mexico's governor said last week she would extend the coronavirus public health emergency to May 15 and laid out a tentative, phased-in plan to reopen the state's economy.

Meanwhile, a fourth COVID-19 case was reported Thursday in Quay County on by the New Mexico Department of Health as the state’s death toll surpassed 100 on Monday.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said during a briefing Wednesday she would extend the emergency and its restrictions — which began in mid-March and were tightened in early April — to mid-May.

She also laid out a draft to reopen the state’s economy. In an answer to a reporter's question, she said the state would consider certain non-essential businesses being reopened under certain safety conditions before the emergency ends May 15.

In Phase I of the reopening plan:

• People vulnerable to the disease would stay at home.

• Some non-essential businesses would be permitted to reopen if they complied with COVID-19 safe practices.

• Certain businesses would remain closed.

In Phase II of reopening:

• Additional businesses would reopen if they complied with safe practices.

• Large gatherings would be restricted for the foreseeable future.

The governor said she would consult with a number of mayors from across the state and a New Mexico Economic Advisory Council consisting of about 15 business owners on how to reopen the state.

Lujan Grisham warned any municipality that orders the reopening of non-essential businesses would be in violation of the public health order.

Human Services Secretary David Scrase gave criteria, based partially on a recently announced White House model, on when it appeared New Mexico had control of the disease:

• A declining number of active cases;

• Ramped-up testing and testing capacity of the virus;

• Contact tracing of victims;

• Adequate supplies of personal protective equipment;

• Sufficient hospital capacity;

• Good healthcare worker well-being;

• A containment plan for new outbreaks.

Lujan Grisham praised the actions of residents for slowing the spread of COVID-19 but cautioned against complacency.

“We're not out of this fight yet,” she said. “Until we have a vaccine, this virus lives among us, looking for hosts.”

New cases

Quay County recorded its fourth confirmed case of COVID-19, according to a Thursday afternoon briefing from the Department of Health.

The agency typically does not identify the name or place of residence of coronavirus-positive victims.

However, data on the state's interactive website indicates four COVID-19 cases were in Tucumcari's ZIP code. According to incomplete data, two were age 40 to 49; another was 70 to 79. Two men and two women were identified with the virus.

To date, Quay County has seen one death from COVID-19, reported late last week.

After weeks without any cases, Quay County has recorded four since April 11.

A total of 124 people in the county had been tested for the virus through Monday.

The total number of coronavirus cases in New Mexico rose by 101 on Monday to a total of 2,823. Though most of the cases are in heavily populated Bernalillo County, the largest concentration per capita has been observed in the northwest part of the state among Native American populations.

The death total in the state rose by six on Sunday, to 104.

A total of 155 people have been hospitalized. A total of 666 have recovered from the disease.

In the U.S. on Monday afternoon, more than 985,000 cases were recorded, with more than 55,000 deaths.

More citations

Nails for You in Tucumcari was the latest business in Quay County to be served Thursday by state police by a cease-and-desist order as a non-essential business.

That brings to six the number of businesses cited in the county:

• Mariposa Herbs and Gifts

• La Casa Verde Floral and Nursery

• Liberty Loans and Finance

• Smoker’s Discount

• Route 66 Pawn and Sales

La Casa, however, remained open as a curbside business after the governor’s office announced last week that plant nurseries could reopen if they operated with curbside and delivery operations. Even with outdoor sales, nurseries must abide by the mass-gatherings rule and not allow more than five people in a space.

La Casa also launched a website where customers could make online orders of plants and products.

More aid passed

New Mexico lawmakers in Washington encouraged small business owners to apply for the $310 billion that was added last week to the Paycheck Protection Program. The previous allocation for the fund was drained just days after it was enacted.

The fund includes up to $10 million in loans for each small business and nonprofit of up to 500 employees. The loans will be converted to forgivable grants if employers maintain their previous payroll through June. The loans will be implemented through an existing Small Business Administration program.

More information may be found about Paycheck Protection Program and other SBA programs at

The All Together NM Fund on Friday announced more than $400,000 in grants to five food banks, including $13,200 to the Clovis-based Food Bank of Eastern New Mexico that serves Quay County.

Donations to the fund may be made to, texting “together to (505) 333-4714 or mailing to Santa Fe Communication Foundation, P.O. Box 1827, Santa Fe, NM 87504.

Rendered 05/11/2024 18:10