SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said that New Mexicans should expect the stay-at-home order to be extended through May 15. Gov. Lujan Grisham said as of Wednesday, there are six new coronavirus deaths, bringing the state’s death total to 71. She also said the best defense to the virus is social distancing.
However, there are major problem areas and the governor said “normal” is still a ways off. ” What does normalcy look like? It isn’t going to look like it did in January. We’re not going to be congregating in large groups at parks. We’re not going to be going to huge concerts. I don’t think that’s going to happen anywhere really in the country,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham.
The governor also announced a phased kind of “reopening plan” that could start mid-May. She said right now the state is in the “preparation phase,” which means we are still in a stay-at-home order phase.
Currently, officials are developing what they call “COVID Safe Practices” to define how businesses will protect employees and when businesses could soon open. Phase One would require “at-risk” individuals to stay home but would allow some non-essential businesses to reopen. Phase Two will allow more businesses to reopen, but large gatherings would still be restricted which means the idea of sporting events, concerts and movies could still be months away.
Also in Wednesday’s news conference, Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel said they are trying to expand testing and there are 64 testing sites in all 33 counties. Kunkel said the testing strategy was to focus on targeted communities. She also said targeted testing was being done in 35 nursing homes. Kunkel said that testing began last week to start testing asymptomatic essential workers like grocery store workers and others who are at risk.
Dr. David Scrase said there is some good news but there are still areas of concerns regarding coronavirus cases in New Mexico. He said that for every one case that we do know about, there might be 30 to 40 more coronavirus cases out there. Dr. Scrase said the rate of infection in McKinley County is seven times higher than the rate of infection in Bernalillo County.
Dr. Scrase said the latest state data is encouraging. Santa Fe County should be a model for the rest of the state, in how to continue social distancing Dr. Scrase said. He said the trend of coronavirus cases in San Juan County is going to spike in the next month but New Mexico can still bend the curve and bring it down.
Dr. Scrase said there are criteria that need to be met to reopen the healthcare system: new case rate trends, adequate testing to achieve containment or about 100,000 tests a day, contact tracing, PPE, hospital capacity, healthcare worker health and well-being and an outbreak containment plan. He also said testing capacity has to be in place in order for any kind of reopening for the economy. Dr. Scrase said there is a healthcare worker support line that is available for those who need it at 855-507-5509.
On another note, Gov. Lujan Grisham said 404,000 pounds of food has been delivered to the Navajo Nation to include Jicarilla Apache, Mescalero Apache, Pueblos of Zuni, Zia, Picuris, Santa Ana and Laguna. The governor also said 537 National Guard members are working and 57 individuals are in Gallup right now.