ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – As coronavirus cases surge across the nation, there’s also been a spike in New Mexico and especially in Bernalillo County. State health officials say a rise in cases was expected with reopening the economy, and it has them on high alert. Tuesday marked another day of long lines at Balloon Fiesta Park in Albuquerque to get a COVID-19 test.
“It’s actually a good thing to find more cases because you can talk to those people, find out everyone they’ve been in contact with, get a hold of those people and make sure they stay indoors and don’t contact other people,” explained Dr. David Scrase, Secretary of the Human Services Department.
Statewide, roughly 5,000 tests are done each day. In the last week, New Mexico has seen COVID-19 caseloads spike in every region of the state, and especially in Bernalillo County.
Tuesday, June 30, the New Mexico Department of Health reported 36 new cases in Bernalillo County. The daily average of new cases in Bernalillo County over the past week is 42, more than double the average over the two weeks before that.
“The fact that people are out and about more, and taking COVID less seriously, and having more contact,” Dr. Scrase explained. “We see a lot of people in groups much bigger than four, you see people not wearing masks.”
It’s a warning New Mexicans have been hearing for weeks. However, not everyone is heeding those warnings. KRQE News 13 crews saw hundreds gathered at Roosevelt park during a recent Juneteenth celebration. Then on Sunday, huge crowds of people filled Manzano Mesa Park. People at the gathering weren’t social distancing and most people were not wearing masks. A concerned citizen said, “I see a very bad potential public health hazard here.”
Then there are travel concerns, as cases surge in surrounding states. “I guess people coming back to New Mexico are urged to self-quarantine, but who knows how strictly people observe that requirement, so it is a cause for concern,” said Ron Segel, who lives in Albuquerque.
Breweries, restaurants, and more businesses, in general, are reopening. Inspectors with the City of Albuquerque’s Environmental Health Department said they’ve been responding to complaints when people aren’t following the state’s public health order.
“We’re not just wanting to see people follow that order, but we’re hoping that people are gonna understand the spirit of it,” Mark DiMenna, Deputy Director for the City of Albuquerque’s Environmental Health Department, said. “I mean it’s not about what anybody’s telling you to do, it’s about what the right thing to do is.”
Dr. Scrase said it’s taking contact tracing teams in New Mexico roughly 26 hours to reach someone once a positive test result comes back, and roughly 47 hours to reach their contacts.
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