Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Governor may delay Phase II of reopening

 

June 24, 2020



New Mexico's governor said Thursday she may delay a planned Phase II reopening of the state's economy on July 1 by a week or longer because of an uptick in the spread rate of COVID-19 and huge surges of infections in Texas and Arizona.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said “we are no longer improving” with the coronavirus and urged residents to be vigilant about observing social distancing, wearing masks and washing their hands.

She said if the pandemic worsens, she said she would reluctantly consider reversing the easing of restrictions and more aggressively enforce COVID-19 mandates, including the wearing of masks.

“I believe in a correlation with masks and stopping the spread of COVID,” she said.

She said the increase in New Mexico's spread rate indicated a “false sense of security.” Answering a question from a reporter, Lujan Grisham said she observed about a 30% compliance rate in mask wearing from the public in Santa Fe.

“If that rate continues, I know unequivocally we're not going to see a reduction in the rate of infection,” she said. “It depends on New Mexicans. I can't predict compliance.”

She said New Mexico remains under a stay-at-home order that residents should heed and minimize their interactions with others.

The Phase II reopening included the reopening of more businesses and the easing of restrictions on operating ones by July 1. Lujan Grisham said she and her staff would continue to monitor the pandemic's numbers before making a decision on Phase II in about a week.

Health Services Secretary David Scrase said the state's seven-day average in the coronavirus spread rate in the last week rose above its target rate of 1.05 to 1.12 and was meeting only three of six reopening criteria. He said the spread rate's rise was “very, very concerning.”

The Southeast Region, which includes Quay County, saw its spread rate rise from 1.07 to 1.17. The Northeast Region's spread rate rose from 1.12 to 1.34, and the Southwest Region increased from 0.92 to 1.27.

In neighboring Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott said the state was dealing with a “massive COVID-19 outbreak” and was stopping its reopening plans. Scrase said the border town of El Paso has logged that state's sixth-highest number of cases, and he noted significant activity of the disease in the Panhandle.

In Arizona, Scrase said coronavirus situation there was “an absolute disaster” and starting to overwhelm its hospitals. He said 22% of all people being tested for the disease there were positive, compared to 5% in early May.

“If those other states don't start mitigating the rate of infection, it will have an effect on us,” Lujan Grisham said. She recommended that New Mexicans not travel to those states.

 
 

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