Socorro mayor says early intervention helping keep positive COVID-19 case rates relatively low

Coronavirus New Mexico

SOCORRO, N.M. (KRQE) – While coronavirus cases continue to add up statewide, one New Mexico city said its early intervention has helped it keep cases down. The mayor of Socorro thinks it was the city’s quick action that is helping them keep positive case rates there relatively low.

Socorro County was among the first three counties to announce a coronavirus case in mid-March. “We have them in Bernalillo County, Sandoval County, Santa Fe County and Socorro County,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said during a news conference on March 23.

However, the city of Socorro has not added on too many since. “We have been working very hard in this town to control the number of positive cases,” Mayor Ravi Bhasker said.

While the county has 75 cases, Bhasker said just 15 of those are in the city. “A town our size with only 15 is not bad for a town of 10,000 people,” Bhasker said.

Bhasker, who is also a family physician, said he thinks it is due to them creating a mask mandate in April, a full month before the governor enacted one statewide. “My reasoning is I could see COVID… We are the only city plus Grant, Farmington and Gallup close to the Navajo Nation,” Bhasker said. “People want to come to our city to do shopping, but I could see that infection rate was going up a bit.”

The governor recently said that if we can get 80 to 90% of the state wearing masks, it would help bring down positive case rates. Bhasker said in Socorro, 95% of people comply. “You can’t say the same for cities north or south of us,” Bhasker said.

Plus, he personally has gone to all 80 businesses in Socorro and has staff monitoring them frequently, requiring the police department to give warnings to businesses who don’t comply. “You have got to have enforcement,” Bhasker said. “In our small city, we are willing to do it. We are small enough that we can respond quickly.”

Bhasker said when 1,200 to 1,800 New Mexico Tech students return to school in Socorro, they will enforce mask-wearing and require them to quarantine until they provide a negative test result. Bhasker added that police are escorting people out of businesses who do not follow the rules.

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