SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – In a press conference to provide updates on the coronavirus outbreak on Wednesday, March 18, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced a new series of health orders in addition to five new cases of the virus bringing the total to 28 positive cases.
Starting on Thursday, March 19, 2020, all mass gatherings will be prohibited. All restaurants, bars, breweries, eateries, and other food service establishments will be limited to takeout service and home delivery only.
Shopping malls, recreational facilities, health clubs, spas, recreational facilities, movie theatres, and flea markets are also directed to close. Office environments that do not engage in essential services are instructed to immediately limit operations to a feasible extent and are encouraged to limit contact to groups of 10.
All casinos and horseracing facilities are also instructed to close. This initiative does not include tribal casinos however the governor is working with sovereign tribal partners to do the same as many have already followed suit.
Hotels, motels, and places of lodging are instructed to immediately go to 50% of their capacity. The closures will stay in effect until April 10 at which that time the situation will be reassessed.
The governor explained that the state has the power through emergency orders to fine those who don’t comply. “So there can be civil and potentially criminal penalties and licensure issues related to folks who don’t comply,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham.
“I want people to understand that we know this is incredibly painful to those businesses. That pain is felt everywhere and it’s really something I take into consideration every time we make an order that I know impacts the viability of these businesses, painful,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “But I have to protect the state and the wellbeing of our healthcare workers and our police officers and that means if these civil penalties must go out they will.”
Five new cases of COVID-19 were announced including one case that is being investigated for community spread as the individual, a Bernalillo County woman in her 40s, had no known exposure to the virus. The other four other cases were related to travel.
The New Mexico Department of Health reports that it has active investigations into each of the positive cases of the virus that includes contract-tracing and swabs of symptomatic persons who have come into contact with the positive patients.
Currently, there are six drive-thru testing sites: one at the PresNow facility on Coors in Albuquerque, Presbyterian Espanola Hospital, Christus St. Vincent, Holy Cross Hospital, San Juan Regional Medical Center, and Gallup Indian Medical Center. New Mexico Department of Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel is urging the public to only get tested if you are showing symptoms of COVID-19.
Three additional Optum New Mexico testing sites reopened on Wednesday and are located near I-25 and Paseo, Tramway and I-40 and in Rio Rancho.
On Thursday, March 19, NMDOH will be offering COVID-19 testing in Las Vegas, New Mexico from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Memorial Middle School located at 947 Old National Road.
Additionally, on Thursday, March 19 NMDOH will provide testing at the Wool Bowl Stadium in Roswell from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. At this event, traffic is asked to enter from Garden Street and will exit onto Grand Ave.
COVID-19 symptoms include fever, cough, or shortness of breath. According to the NewMexico.gov website, it is important that residents understand that those without COVID-19 symptoms do not need COVID-19 testing as many are affected by allergies and may exhibit allergy symptoms that include sneezing, itchy eyes, throat or nose.
If you are exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus you are asked to call the NMDOH COVID-19 hotline at 1-855-600-3453. For non-health related COVID-19 questions regarding job issues, school closures etc. call 1-833-551-0518.