Lawmaker says COVID-19 is a growing concern in southern New Mexico

Coronavirus New Mexico

NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – As New Mexico COVID-19 cases hit an all-time high Thursday at 1,082, lawmakers from one of the communities hardest hit are asking for more help from the state. Dona Ana County representatives said lines for testing are 200 cars deep hours before the sites even open, and they need more resources to help fight this pandemic.

Sen. Joseph Cervantes said there is a crisis in southern New Mexico. “My concern is the community I represent gets forgotten when it comes to the resources of the state of New Mexico,” Cervantes said.

According to Dr. David Scrase, Bernalillo and Dona Ana counties are the two counties with major COVID-19 growth. Thursday, Bernalillo County reported 260 new cases. Dona Ana County reported 248, even though Cervantes said Dona Ana is just one-third of the population. “I am not at all surprised by the numbers here and nobody really should be,” Cervantes said.

Cervantes said he predicted months ago that there would be problems in southern New Mexico. He asked the state for more testing as many border communities are right next to El Paso where hospitals are currently overwhelmed with COVID patients. They have had to set up tents to help since they are at capacity. “We shop in El Paso,” Cervantes said. “We work in El Paso and vice versa.”

Cervantes said people are now even getting tested in El Paso due to a lack of testing in Dona Ana County. The Department of Health’s website shows ten sites across all of Dona Ana County compared to 16 in just Albuquerque. “In Las Cruces, for example, we may be able to get in two days a week for testing and even then, hours are limited,” Cervantes said.

Scrase said the area is seeing a significant increase in cases. “Almost one-third of cases in Dona Ana County over the course of the pandemic, maybe 28% or 30%, have occurred in the past two weeks,” Scrase said.

The state now said it is planning a testing surge for southern New Mexico next week. “It is never too little too late, but it certainly should have been planned earlier and put into operation much earlier,” Cervantes said.

Cervantes said people are waiting two weeks to get their test results back from Texas so he believes the county’s COVID-19 numbers are behind and are possibly higher than what the state is reporting. Cervantes wants New Mexico leadership to work with the City of El Paso and the state of Texas on a better response.

Scrase said Thursday that Lt. Gov. Howie Morales is doing a tour of southern New Mexico next week to assess what else the state can do there.

New Mexico Coronavirus Resource Guide

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