SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The governor is warning that New Mexico could become the country’s next coronavirus epicenter unless people work to stop the spread. This comes with the announcement that the state health order would not be updated to allow youth and K-12 sports this fall.
“The fall sports have been postponed, they have not been canceled,” New Mexico Athletics Association Executive Director Sally Marquez explained.
“That includes club sports. Our goal is to get kiddos back into the classroom,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a remote news conference on Thursday, adding that competition travel and games will stay pushed back until the spring.
Non-contact practices are allowed with fewer than 10 in a group and with everyone wearing masks. “There’s only four states not playing high school sports right now,” Eldorado High School Athletic Director Roy Sanchez said. “So, a little disappointed. Parents rely on us to keep kids out of trouble, now they’re going to have to figure something else out.”
This comes as the state continues to see a surge in coronavirus cases with nearly 400 more announced Thursday. “We are at extreme risk of uncontrollable spread,” the governor said.
The state’s 7-day average of daily cases jumped to 233, well above the goal of 168. New Mexico is below the target of a 5% test positivity rate, but the news came with a warning from the state’s top doctor.
“That’s an alarm valve that should be bringing very loudly for all of you because once we get over five percent, that’s an indication that we really don’t know how we’re doing, that there are lots of cases out there that we are probably not capturing,” Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase said.
It’s a trend officials warn needs to change, or the state could see even more business restrictions and a potential strain on hospitals. “You become quickly a potential epicenter for the country and you overwhelm your healthcare workers,” Gov. Lujan-Grisham said.
Dr. Scrase is urging people to quarantine for two weeks even if their COVID-19 test comes back negative, saying he’s heard of the virus showing up in people days later. “[Someone] got tested, it was negative [and] went back to work,” Dr. Scrase explained. “Four or five days later, you know, day eight or nine or 10 after contact, got sick and turned out to have COVID.”
It’s one step, along with the usual COVID-safe practices like mask-wearing to help improve case numbers and get local kids their playtime back. “We will do everything we can to make that work,” Marquez said.
The NMAA is working on a calendar that will move volleyball and cross country to the spring semester. The spring golf season will continue as originally planned.