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

Governor: COVID-19 spread "alarming" and "untenable"

No additional changes made Thursday to more restrictive health orders set for Friday


Last updated 10/17/2020 at 5:40am

SANTA FE — New Mexico officials reported the second straight daily record of COVID-19 infections Thursday in a trend Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham called “alarming” and “untenable” for health care providers.

The state reported 672 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, topping Wednesday’s record of 577 cases. The count included 17 in Curry County and six in Roosevelt County.

“We’re not succeeding in combating the virus” Lujan Grisham said. “The virus is now winning. This is the most serious emergency New Mexico has ever faced.”

The governor recommended staying home and supporting businesses online as much as possible and wearing a mask if going out is necessary for “food, life, safety, work.” Other recommendations included frequent hand washing and avoiding groups and indoor spaces.

The state has, since March, confirmed 34,958 COVID-19 cases. There are 150 hospitalizations, up 71% so far in October, with 21 on ventilators.

“At some point, you don’t have enough hospital beds to meet the demand,” Lujan Grisham said. “This is exactly where we don’t want to be.”

The state reported 611 rapid responses last week, up from 419 the prior week, with 120% increases in restaurants and 98% increases in retailers and wholesalers.

There were no changes to state public health orders beyond the ones announced Tuesday. Those changes, effective Friday, include the following:

• The definition of mass gatherings will be reduced from 10 to five.

• Any food or drink establishment serving alcohol must close no later than 10 p.m.

• Occupancy is capped at 60% for places of lodging that have completed the state’s Safe Certified training program and 25% for places that have not, down from the current rates of 75% and 50%.

• People arriving from a high-risk state — test positivity rate of at least 5% or a test positivity rate of 80 new daily cases per 100,000 residents — must still quarantine for 14 days or the duration of their stay in New Mexico, whichever is longer. Exemptions for people who can provide a negative COVID-19 test will be eliminated.

Human Services Secretary David Scrase said COVID-19 cases have risen among all age groups, and he has concerns when he sees those in the 65 and older ranges because they’re the most likely to require hospitalization.

In other COVID-19 developments:

• The Public Education Department also reported three new cases among school populations in Curry County — two staff members last on school property Friday and Tuesday, and a student last on campus Sept. 25.

• Prior to the briefing, House Republicans released a statement blasting the governor for not taking responsibility for the impacts of the public health orders.

“The governor has devastated the economy in New Mexico with her forced economic shutdown, yet the recent COVID cases continue to rise,” said House Republican Whip Rod Montoya. “At what point does she stop blaming the people of this state who are under her restrictions, and when do we start holding the governor accountable for her mismanagement of this crisis?”

• The governor, on her final day of required quarantine after exposure to a positive case at the governor’s residence, said she will continue to isolate as much as possible despite her and her fiancee both testing negative twice. She said the custodial worker who tested positive is feeling better, but unfortunately the virus spread within the home.


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