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Governor: State at "extreme risk of uncontrollable spread" of COVID-19

Public health orders will not allow youth sports; Curry reports 65 new infections


Last updated 10/9/2020 at 8:38am

SANTA FE — While no immediate changes were made to public health orders, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham warned the state was “at extreme risk of uncontrollable spread” of COVID-19 during its weekly press conference.

“This is feeling week after week like we’re preaching ... but the reality is still the same,” Lujan Grisham said Thursday. “This is a deadly virus. We’re in a global pandemic.”

Also, the governor said, the state will not update its public health order to permit youth and K-12 games or competition, including club sports, for the fall.

The state reported 387 new cases of COVID-19, including 65 in Curry County and five in Roosevelt County. That is the largest number of cases for any day in Curry County, and nearly twice the previous record of 33 posted last week. Only Bernalillo County, which has nearly a third of the state’s 2.1 million residents, was higher with 101 cases.

A large percentage of the county's new cases are tied to the Curry County Detention Center. County Manager Lance Pyle said 43 inmates have received positive COVID-19 tests in the last 36 hours. In all, Pyle said 64 detainees have tested positive for the virus.

Jail officials have reopened the old annex to help reduce spread.

Pyle said all new detainees are housed in the annex and all detainee worker programs have been terminated.

Wednesday saw the state post 426 new cases, the second-highest daily case count since the pandemic began in March. Also reported were 118 hospitalizations, a 38% increase since Oct. 1. The governor said if the spread was not halted it could soon overwhelm health facilities.

She noted New Mexicans were well past doubling down, and needed to triple- or quadruple-down efforts to wear masks and socially distance to prevent widespread illness and economic rollbacks. She also recommended people limit themselves to three or fewer trips per day between work, errands and self-care.

“We can do so much more to honor the families and lives,” Lujan Grisham said, “by continuing to do everything we can to protect as many New Mexicans as we can.”

Human Services Secretary David Scrase led much of the presentation, as Lujan Grisham was quarantining at the governor’s residence after a custodial worker reported feeling sick over the weekend. Scrase noted an “exponential rise” in the number of cases, primarily in the Southeast region that includes Curry and Roosevelt counties and the Metro region that includes Albuquerque and Rio Rancho. Infection rates in the Southeast region are problematic, Scrase said, but not too surprising given frequent travel to and from Texas.

“This is a time to exercise as much caution as we possibly can,” Scrase said. “Even if we slam the brakes right now, it’s going to take two weeks for this automobile to stop.”

Scrase recommended New Mexicans follow COVID-safe practices at work, including mask-wearing, social distancing, frequent handwashing and taking breaks alone or in socially-distanced small groups.

The state reported three new deaths, bringing the total to 899, with a spread rate of 1.24, a seven-day average of 233 new daily cases and test positivity of 4.21%. A test positivity rate above 5%, Scrase said, would be “an indication we really don’t know how we’re doing, and there are a lot of cases we’re probably not catching.”

Also addressed Thursday:

• Regarding youth sports, Lujan Grisham said she is “very sorry” for the disappointment, but the priority is to ensure more students can safely re-enter the classroom and to drive cases back down so youth sports can resume in 2021.

Limited contact practices, with fewer than 10 in a group and all participants wearing face covering, are still permitted.

• The New Mexico Activities Association released a statement on the governor’s announcement that it would postpone its fall golf, volleyball and cross country seasons.

“This is an extremely sad day for students across New Mexico,” NMAA Executive Director Sally Marquez said. “We were planning and hoping to begin competition this month as our member schools are eager to safely integrate sports and activities back to our students’ lives. At this point, however, we cannot stage any competitive events without an update to the current public health order.”

Marquez said the NMAA still has a goal to offer every sports season in 2020-21, and that an updated schedule would be released next week.

• Halloween recommendations included avoiding door-to-door trick-or-treating, in-person costume parties, haunted houses and similar activities. Recommended alternatives included movie nights, costume contests and pumpkin carving at home.

• Scrase said there have been numerous medications looked at for treatment of COVID-19, and “all but two have no solid evidence to show they’re effective” The steroid Dexamethasone has been shown to reduce recovery time, while antiviral medication Remdeslvir has lowered mortality rates for those needing oxygen or ventilators.

• Scrase noted that people who get tests, and then resume with their general activities, do little to prevent spread. “If you get a COVID test,” Scrase said, “you need to self-isolate for 14 days, particularly if you’re in contact of a positive individual.”


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