New Mexico woman charged with violating public health order at Estancia restaurant

Coronavirus New Mexico

ESTANCIA, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico woman had a hard time following the stay-at-home order after she was diagnosed with the coronavirus. She made her way to an Estancia restaurant, and she might be the first person in the state charged with violating the Public Health Act during COVID-19. Estancia Police say they got a call on Friday about a 67-year-old woman going into a local restaurant, claiming she has the coronavirus. On top of that, police say the woman has a history of mental health issues and cancer.

“I went over there and asked her to remove herself because she was causing a disturbance with the employees inside there,” says Chief Vernon Cobb.

Estancia Police Chief, Vernon Cobb, says Gina Gale Peterson is one of the confirmed coronavirus cases here in New Mexico. The owner of Mama Bears Cafe, Kathy Swope, says Peterson came into her restaurant, used the restroom, sat at a table and claimed she couldn’t breathe. After the police came, Swope says Peterson left but then came back.

“She came back about an hour and a half later and opened my door, and threw a piece of paper at me about the coronavirus,” says Swope. Swope immediately closed down her restaurant to disinfect the building. She says her restaurant will remain closed while she and her staff isolate themselves after coming into contact with Peterson.

Chief Cobb says Peterson was wearing a mask at the time of this incident and has since been checked into a health facility to be quarantined. Peterson has been charged with violating a public health order and public nuisance. Court records show Peterson has violated her probation by racking up these new charges. She was on probation for hitting two people with a gun while drunk in Torrance County in 2018.

New Mexico Coronavirus Resource Guide

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