COVID-19 numbers up across New Mexico
March 29, 2020
The numbers have a story to tell.
First, New Mexico’s number of residents who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 was up to 191 on Saturday morning.
Friday saw the most positive tests in a single day — 55, including a Cannon Air Force Base airman in his 20s. Officials said the man is in self-isolation at his home in Portales.
That makes two confirmed cases in eastern New Mexico. A Curry County woman in her 50s is also quarantined at home after testing positive on Monday.
And then there’s the economic relief package Congress approved and President Trump signed on Friday. That number is $2.2 trillion, intended for individuals as well as hospitals, businesses, and state and local governments struggling with the pandemic.
Closest to home, both coronavirus victims appear to have contracted the disease while traveling, officials have said.
“The (airman), while traveling out of the area on terminal leave in the East Coast earlier this month, came in contact with an individual who had tested positive for COVID-19,” Cannon reported in a news release.
“Upon return, the member contacted our 24/7 Public Health Hotline and was immediately placed in self-isolation at their residence ... The member will remain in self-isolation in accordance with CDC protocols. Once the member is no longer symptomatic, they will be re-evaluated for a follow-up test.”
Officials said early last week the Curry County woman was also likely infected while traveling.
Traveling is becoming more discouraged around the nation.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday ordered air travelers into New Mexico to quarantine themselves for 14 days upon arrival.
Her executive order also warns travelers that they face the possibility of “involuntary isolation” if they don’t comply, and she authorized the state Department of Public Health to screen, isolate and quarantine people covered by the order.
“Because some individuals infected with COVID-19 are asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms,” Lujan Grisham said in the order, “travelers may be unaware they are carrying the virus. For this reason, persons arriving in New Mexico’s airports must self-isolate for a period of time sufficient to ensure that the public health and safety is not jeopardized.”
State health officials said Friday evening there were 17 people hospitalized in the state for COVID-19.
The federal government’s relief provisions are expected to touch many aspects of American life.
Rep. Russ Fulcher, R-Idaho, said the government is obligated to step in: “When the government shut down the economy, it assumed the responsibility of bringing it back.”
The number for the relief package looks like this:
The president praised Republicans and Democrats for coming together “and putting America first.”
The parties’ unanimity was especially remarkable given the unprecedented cost of the measure, an amount that is equivalent to more than half of the $3.6 trillion in tax revenue the U.S. government expects to collect this year.
Along with providing a one-time direct payout of up to $1,200 for most American adults, the bill includes $500 billion in loans to struggling businesses, $377 billion in loans and grants for small businesses, $150 billion for local, state and tribal governments facing a drop in revenue and $130 billion for hospitals dealing with an onslaught of patients.
The package also blocks foreclosures and evictions during the crisis on properties where the federal government backs the mortgage; pauses federal student loan payments for six months and waives the interest; gives states millions of dollars to begin planning for the November election by offering mail or early voting, and provides more than $25 billion for food assistance programs such as SNAP.
It expanded who qualifies for unemployment assistance to include people who were furloughed, gig workers and freelancers. Coming after a week in which a record 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits, the measure provided a $600 increase in jobless benefits for four months, on top of what states provide as base compensation, and extended by 13 weeks the duration of benefits, which is typically 26 weeks.
House Democratic leaders have already begun talking about the need for additional relief packages and New Mexico lawmakers are expected to return for a special session to make budget adjustments after a recent decline in oil prices.
The Eastern New Mexico News, Albuquerque Journal and Los Angeles Times contributed to this report.