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

Virus hits second city nursing home

State health order extended another month


Last updated 8/1/2020 at 12:31pm

New Mexico’s business restrictions and face-covering mandate are set to remain in place until Aug. 28, as Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said Thursday it’s still not safe to downshift amid a recent surge in COVID-19 cases.

Also Thursday, a second nursing home in Clovis was added to the state’s list of facilities with positive COVID-19 tests. Wheatfields Senior Living officials on Thursday confirmed two positive tests.

The governor, who has faced pressure from Republicans and some local officials to relax restrictions, said she wants to see the state’s infection rate and positive test rate go down before further reopening the state’s economy.

“We’re not there yet — the cases are still too high,” Lujan Grisham said during a news conference at the Roundhouse that was broadcast online.

With the Lujan Grisham administration’s previous public health order expiring Thursday, Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel issued a new order that keeps restrictions largely in place.

At Clovis’ Wheatfields, a positive employee test was reported July 25 and a positive resident test was reported Wednesday. The resident has been hospitalized.

Lesley Yanak, vice president of sales for Seasons Living, which operates Wheatfields, provided the following information:

• The employee who tested positive last worked July 16, and has been recovering at home. The facility began testing all residents and staff after the confirmed test, and checks temperatures and oxygen levels for staff and residents on each shift change.

• The resident was admitted to Plains Regional Medical Center for unrelated reasons, and was tested upon entry due to hospital protocol. That result was still pending going into the weekend, but the hospital received rapid tests and confirmed a positive. Based on conversations with hospital staff, it is uncertain if the resident was positive before coming into the hospital.

In its daily update on COVID-19 cases, the state lists nursing homes and convalescent centers with positive tests in the last 28 days. The list includes Wheatfields and Retirement Ranch, which received a positive employee test July 10.

Curry County has reported at least one positive COVID-19 test every day since June 12. The county had reported 68 positive tests on June 11; it had 453 on Friday.

State health officials reported Friday that Curry County had 315 active cases of the coronavirus.

The state’s new health orders announced Thursday feature some minor changes, including allowing wineries and distilleries to reopen outdoor seating areas at limited capacity — just as restaurants and breweries are permitted to do.

The governor also said there would be several changes to a mandatory 14-day quarantine for those entering New Mexico from out of state, such as exempting those who travel out of state for medical treatments.

The travel quarantine has already impacted professional sports teams’ plans, but Lujan Grisham said it’s necessary to ensure that a huge number of out-of-state tourists don’t travel to New Mexico.

One top-ranking Republican lawmaker on Thursday accused the governor of ignoring the concerns of many New Mexicans.

“We look to our state leaders for hope and guidance, yet this administration has made it clear that national politics and party standing is more important than you or me as New Mexicans,” said House GOP floor leader James Townsend of Artesia.

Lujan Grisham has dismissed such criticism as misguided.

Dan Boyd of the Albuquerque Journal contributed to this report.


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