Governor says New Mexico on pace for September hybrid school reopening

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – As New Mexico’s daily number of new coronavirus cases appears to continue a downward trend over the last few weeks, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham says she believes the state seems on track to reopen schools next month. However, there are a few factors that could make or break a statewide reopening.

In an interview with KRQE News 13 Tuesday, the governor said she’s worried about a spike of new COVID cases coming with Labor Day Weekend festivities and travel that is normally associated with the holiday. She also says she’s worried about higher case numbers in the southern part of the state.

“I’m better than cautiously optimistic, but we have to hold these numbers,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “I can’t have a spike, and I can’t have some counties with their infection rate, right, southeastern New Mexico is still too high, they need to still come down in order for (school reopening) to be a statewide effort.”

Gov. Lujan Grisham is slated to deliver a primetime address in front of the Democratic National Convention Wednesday. The speech will mark the third consecutive New Mexico governor to address a national party convention. The governor said Wednesday she hopes to highlight how “proud” she is of the state’s COVID response.

Data posted to the Department of Health’s coronavirus website shows according to the state’s seven-day rolling average of new COVID-19 cases by day, as of August 13, New Mexico averaged an addition of 137 new COVID cases per day. That number is below the state’s gating criteria of 167 new cases per day.

While that data point is a key metric, the governor says New Mexicans should not expect expanded reopening criteria next week, despite the state now meeting gating criteria now. “I need a couple more weeks, we all do, the more that you diminish the virus, the more that I can respond to where people are moving between states, so in the southeastern part of the state, and southwestern New Mexico, now we’ve got real opportunities to deal with those outbreaks,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said.

The governor would not say Wednesday if the state could restart indoor dining at restaurants with lower case numbers. However, she said she’s optimistic about having an “exciting announcement” in the near future.

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