No health order changes presented
September 13, 2020
SANTA FE — State officials provided good news regarding COVID-19 infection rates Thursday, but did not present any public health order changes.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said the virus is challenging and unfair, and that while congratulations are in order there’s still more work to do.
“I really do appreciate that New Mexicans are making huge differences every single time,” Lujan Grisham said, “to a new normal and getting things reopened to the greatest degree possible until there’s a vaccine.”
The state reported on Thursday a spread rate of 0.76 and 101 daily cases — its lowest rolling seven-day average since mid-March — and a test positivity rate of 2.3%.
Human Services Secretary David Scrase credited New Mexicans “for doing everything you’ve done to keep numbers down,” including limiting travel, wearing face coverings and frequently washing hands.
The state reported 161 new COVID-19 positive tests Thursday, including two in Curry County and five in Roosevelt County. On Friday, the state reported 137 new cases, including seven in Curry and six in Roosevelt.
The state has announced a total of 26,563 cases with 14,276 recoveries. The total deaths from COVID-19 in New Mexico is 818, including two Friday.
Scrase noted De Baca County received its first positive test Thursday, but noted the county has done a great job being the state’s only county without a case for months and a positive case “was going to happen sooner or later.”
Regarding public education, Education Secretary Ryan Stewart said the fact that many districts have started in-person learning is “only a product of the fact that so many New Mexicans have done so much work,” and said he owed personal thanks to all school employees from superintendents to teachers to food service workers and custodians.
Stewart noted the state set a “very high bar” for school districts to resume in-person instruction, including a re-entry plan approved by the Public Education Department and county data that includes test positivity at 5% or lower and less than eight daily cases per 100,000 residents. Curry County and Roosevelt County have not met those criteria and are ineligible for in-person instruction.
Clovis Municipal Schools released communication Wednesday that said once the district was cleared for in-person learning, it would take at least one week following the announcement to prepare for the transition and begin the phase-in to in-person learning on the following Monday. Superintendent Renee Russ told The News previous re-entry plans from CMS have been approved by the PED, but she was waiting for approval on a plan submitted Tuesday that was altered to stay in line with changing state criteria.
Portales Municipal Schools Superintendent Johnnie Cain said the district plans to resume in-person instruction starting Oct. 20, even if the county is cleared before that. “We felt that would provide more consistency and stability for our programs,” Cain said, “and allow parents and teachers the time needed to prepare for starting school.” Cain said the Portales district’s re-entry plan does have PED approval.
Stewart noted the PED will share daily case updates on its website and with a daily case letter starting next week, and that group listening sessions will be created for Teacher Talk Tuesdays and Family & Friends Fridays.
In other COVID-19 developments:
• Curry County reported on Friday a former detainee at the Curry County Adult Detention Center tested positive for COVID-19.
According to a county news release, the former detainee was tested during a Sept. 4 booking and released the next day. The positive test result was received Friday morning.
Since May, the facility has conducted nearly 1,000 tests — 750 detainee tests and 215 employee tests.
• Scrase said the state is optimistic for a less severe flu season because many of the COVID safeguards in place also help prevent flu spread.
“The problem is, there’s almost no difference between (symptoms for) the flu and COVID,” Scrase said. “You are going to need medical attention. The only things that really differentiate COVID is it’s common to have shortness of breath and loss of taste or smell.”