Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Quay's sixth COVID-19 case confirmed


July 1, 2020

The New Mexico Department of Health reported the sixth confirmed coronavirus case Friday in Quay County since the pandemic began.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham also said during her health briefing Thursday she likely would delay Phase II of the state's economy reopening because of a recent rise in the COVID-19 spread rate and large surges of cases in Texas and Arizona. Texas on Friday ordered bars closed and restaurants to scale back to 50% occupancy because of the virus.

The latest local coronavirus case is a person is a male in his teens, according Department of Health spokesman David Morgan. He is the youngest such victim in the county. Previous Quay County cases ranged in age from their 20s to their 70s, including one death in the latter.

After reporting no cases of COVID-19 in Quay County in more than a month, two were reported in eight days.

All six of the county's cases have been reported in the Tucumcari ZIP code. The agency said three of those COVID-19 cases in the county have recovered.

The latest cases have occurred during an upswing in the spread rate and COVID-19 cases in New Mexico in recent days.

A total of 173 confirmed cases of COVID-19 were reported Monday in New Mexico as the overall total since the pandemic began approached 12,000.

Monday's report included one death. The total number of deaths in New Mexico rose to 493.

More than 670 people in Quay County have been tested for COVID-19. A total of 5,296 people in New Mexico have recovered from the disease.

In the U.S., more than 2.5 million confirmed cases of coronavirus had been reported as of Monday afternoon, including more than 125,000 deaths.

Health briefing

Lujan Grisham said during her briefing last week “we are no longer improving” with coronavirus and urged residents to be vigilant about social distancing, wearing masks and washing their hands.

She said if the pandemic worsens, she said she would 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.

Lujan Grisham said she also was considering a quarantine order for out-of-state visitors who drive into New Mexico. A 14-day quarantine already exists for visitors who arrive by plane. She also suggested New Mexicans self-quarantine if they cross state lines.

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 30% compliance 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 would have included the reopening of bars, theaters and casinos and the additional easing of restrictions on operating businesses 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 this 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. The spread rate was 0.87 the week before. 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. Abbott halted the state’s reopening plans and on Friday closed bars and imposed a 50% occupancy limit for restaurants.

Scrase said the border town of El Paso has logged Texas’ sixth-highest number of cases, and he noted significant COVID-19 activity of the disease in the Panhandle.

In Arizona, Scrase said coronavirus situation there was “an absolute disaster” and was overwhelming 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 refrain from travel to those states.


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