The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Lockdown authorized in Gallup

 

May 3, 2020



Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has authorized a lockdown in Gallup, her office announced Friday.

By noon Friday, all roads into the city were closed, and all businesses were to close from 5 p.m. through 8 a.m. While the lockdown remains in effect, no more than two individuals may occupy a vehicle and residents are instructed to stay home except for emergencies or essential trips.

“I recognize this request is unusual and constitutes a drastic measure, and the emergency powers set out under the Riot Control Act should be invoked sparingly,” Gallup Mayor Louis Bonaguidi said in a statement released by the Governor’s Office. “However, the COVID-19 outbreak in the city of Gallup is a crisis of the highest order. Immediate action is necessary.”

Lujan Grisham authorized the lockdown through her authority under the Riot Control Act, which allows the governor to temporarily bar people from streets and highways and permits other broad emergency powers.

Gallup is one of the hardest-hit areas in New Mexico. It is situated within McKinley County, which has the most confirmed virus cases despite its sparse population, with 1,064 cases as of Friday. The county has suffered 20 deaths related to COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus, among the highest in New Mexico.

Nearby San Juan County has endured the most deaths of any area of the state — 49. The state Health Department has reported a total of 637 cases there.

“The needs of McKinley County are the most important in the state,” said state Rep. Patty Lundstrom, D-Gallup. “The escalating numbers and deaths indicate that we must take immediate action. Everyone should take this seriously and stay home. These measures are aggressive but necessary.”

Both areas feature substantial Native American territory, where the virus has hit hardest.

More than 50 percent of all virus diagnoses in New Mexico are Native American, and the combined deaths in McKinley and San Juan counties make up 53 percent of the 131 deaths related to the illness in the state.

Gallup police, the McKinley County Sheriff’s Office, New Mexico State Police and the state Department of Transportation will enforce the lockdown, Lujan Grisham’s office said.

The lockdown order came after requests from former Gallup Mayor Jackie McKinney and Bonaguidi, who was sworn into office Thursday afternoon.

The state of emergency in Gallup is effective until noon Monday. “We fully support the proactive measures implemented by Governor Lujan Grisham, at the request of the City of Gallup,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a statement. “We have many members of the Navajo Nation that reside in Gallup and many that travel in the area and their health and safety is always our top priority. Thank you to the Governor for her leadership and decisive actions. We urge everyone to stay home, stay safe, and save lives!”

State Sen. George Muñoz, D-Gallup, said in a statement the temporary travel restrictions are necessary to protect the area.

“We will assess each day afterwards until the spread of the virus is reducing. There’s nothing more important than the health and welfare of every American person, but the reopening of the economy and places of worship is paramount to continuing our way of life that our founding fathers dreamed of and fought for,” he said.

 
 

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