SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Tuesday that she will likely be extending the state’s public health orders through the end of April. She also announced that the state has picked a site for its first field hospital in Albuquerque, while also expanding who can get tested for the coronavirus.
Field hospital status
President Trump has agreed to grant New Mexico a field hospital. “We’re going to have a field hospital, which will have ICU beds in areas where we think there will be surges,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham.
The state says they’ve identified the old Lovelace hospital site on Gibson for a field hospital in Albuquerque which should add more than 200 additional hospital beds. They are also looking for field hospital locations in other parts of the state as well including Farmington, Gallup, Roswell, Las Cruces and Santa Fe.
Testing in New Mexico
The governor’s team says the state has a far greater capacity for testing COVID-19 and they want to try to start finding and isolating people infected with the virus before they become symptomatic. “There’s evidence that early detection of asymptomatic people can help us to maintain the spread of community transmission,” said Kathy Kunkel, Department of Health Secretary.
The Department of Health is now directing the 60 testing sites statewide to test asymptomatic people who’ve had close contact with or household members of people who’ve tested positive for coronavirus. They also suggest asymptomatic people in nursing homes and asymptomatic people who’ve been in other communal places to get tested. The DOH says symptomatic individuals who have cough, fever or shortness of breath should get tested as well.
Where the state stands
As for the outlook, the state says it’s expected a lot more cases. They say it’s taking about four days for cases to double in New Mexico. The governor’s office expects positive cases to soar in the state with a population of 2.1 million.
“Given that 14% of people this year so far have contracted influenza, we think a 1% infection rate for COVID-19 is way too low, and it will be substantially higher than that our models, rather than 55,000, we’re looking at anywhere from 250,000 to 1.25 million people,” said Dr. David Scrase, from Department of Human Services.
By next week, the state says it’s expecting a surge of cases in the northwest part of the state based on their modeling and projections.