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Pulling no punches, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham says she will impose new restrictions including a ban on indoor dining and rollbacks of business hours if the state’s record-breaking increases in new COVID-19 cases does not retreat.
“The virus is everywhere, it at your school, your nursing home, it is in corrections, in your grocery store,” the governor said in introductory remarks in her weekly COVID update via Zoom. The governor was speaking from the governor’s mansion in Santa Fe where she has been in quarantine since last week after a member of the mansion staff tested positive for the virus.
New Mexico recorded 672 new cases yesterday, a 74% increase over last month’s average. The state is approaching 1,000 deaths from the virus, having recorded 922 deaths statewide.
Yesterday, UNM Hospital reported that it was “full” and had no additional bed space available. Presbyterian Hospitals reported that they are have seen a “significant increase” in COVID-related hospitalizations in the past week.
Ahead of the governor’s statements, the state says it has performed more than 1 million tests in the state. Positivity rates have increased to 8.1% (more than three times mid-summer averages).
Many of the new cases, according to Lujan Grisham, are from those under 40. “Fifty-percent of new cases,” she said, “have been in persons age 10 to 39.”
“The health risks are extreme for every New Mexican,” the governor said. “We know that some New Mexicans are not going to get the care they need.”
Earlier this week, Lujan Grisham announced new restrictions to begin on Friday. During Thursday’s briefing she cautioned that in-person schooling is “off the table” until the rate of positive cases retreats. She also outlined a number of “tough decisions” she says she is prepared to make in order to reduce person-to-person transmission. Among those mentioned were a new ban on indoor dining, further restrictions on business openings and additional travel quarantine rules.
Lujan Grisham says the current numbers support additional restrictions, but she has chosen to wait to see if New Mexicans will voluntarily recommit to practices that lowered transmission rates earlier this year.
The governor warned that closures of retail, restaurants and non profits are being considered, if transmission rates do not quickly retreat.
“I want to support New Mexico’s economy, and if we can do it – and we have to do it quick” Lujan Grisham says, “But the numbers warrant those restrictions now.” “If I don’t see the numbers turning around, based on the data, I will have to make those tough decisions,” she added.
This is a developing story and it will be updated as additional information is available.