NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – As New Mexico heads into a new season with coronavirus cases on the rise, lots of people are wondering if there could be more restrictions on the way. Secretary for the Human Services Department Dr. David Scrase explained the state’s latest data trend.
“I think it would be a better strategy to re-enter more carefully and safely and double down on the safety measures we know work,” said Dr. David Scrase. “Somebody said this to me the first week like when you leave your house, pretend you have COVID and pretend everyone you meet has COVID. It’s the same message. Be safe.”
Along with daily COVID-19 cases, New Mexico’s spread rate has also increased past the state’s target of 1.05. Dr. Scrase says that New Mexicans have the tools to improve things, but more people need to use them.
“We’ve seen New York close restaurants, and gyms, and bars when their case counts started rising very rapidly, but I don’t want to do that,” said Dr. Scrase. “I want to keep schools open if we possibly can. I want to keep businesses open. We all have a stake in this.”
Overall, New Mexico is trending poorly when it comes to COVID-19, with a 90% increase in daily case averages over the past two weeks. The test positivity rate has also increased from 2.1% two weeks ago, now at 3.7%.
Under the current public health order, restaurants are only allowed to operate at 25% occupancy for indoor dining, and 75% outdoor. However, with colder temperatures on the horizon, any more closures could really hit hard.
Dr. Scrase emphasized he does not want to see any more restrictions, but, he added, not enough people are wearing masks and social distancing.
“I believe that if everyone wore a mask, if everybody did everything that was in the public health orders that we already have, we’d be seeing 30, 40, 50 cases a day,” said Dr. Scrase. “I don’t have data for that, just my opinion, but it is a belief. Kids could all go back to school, more would reopen. But we have to follow the guidelines and the evidence,” he added.
On Wednesday, the state Department of Health announced 426 new COVID-19 cases and two additional COVID-related deaths. It’s the second-highest daily case count the state has seen since the outset of the pandemic. Bernalillo County reported the highest number of new cases with 120.
“We’re now seeing hospitalizations going up. In another week we’re gonna see deaths going back up again,” said Dr. Scrase. “I just hate to see that when it’s preventable, and there are things we all can do to stay safe and keep other people safe.”
The current public health order in New Mexico still limits mass gatherings to ten people, both indoor and outdoor.