TAOS, N.M. (KRQE) – While there’s been some resistance to enforce the public health order, one New Mexico law enforcement agency is taking their efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 a step further. They say it’s working.
The Taos County Sheriff’s Office says deputies have made themselves very visible in the community lately. Deputies are visiting businesses and doing what they call ‘compliance spot checks’ for the public health order.
“I think it’s been really helpful for us to approach it from that angle and I think that’s where our success has been, is talking to people and communication,” explained Undersheriff Steve Miera, with the Taos County Sheriff’s Office. “I think that’s the only way we’re gonna get a handle on this is working together, trying to help each other learn more,” he added.
Undersheriff Miera said deputies first started doing COVID drive-through educational checkpoints back in April, much like a DWI checkpoint. Deputies hand out informational pamphlets and let people know about public health orders, especially those coming in from out-of-state.
Lately, the sheriff’s office says it has gone a step further. Taos County deputies now use written forms and dedicate time during each shift for deputies to visit businesses in town and make sure everyone is in compliance with the public health order to wear masks, socially distance, and keep people safe.
Miera said so far, all Taos business owners have been in compliance and actually appreciate the deputies doing this. “Talking to people, yes there is an enforcement aspect to it, there absolutely is, but I think we govern … through the effectiveness of our communication with our communities,” Miera said.
As of July 28, Taos County deputies haven’t had to issue any citations. While they have a smaller population, Taos County does fare better with COVID-19 case numbers than other counties.
According to testing numbers and positive cases reported by the Department of Health, as of July 27, Taos County’s positivity rate was around 2%. Using the same day’s data, Lea County has an 8% positivity rate.
Some viewers expressed concern about neighboring Red River, saying it was jam-packed with tourists and fewer people wearing masks. Undersheriff Miera said Red River has its own municipal law enforcement, and a lot of people there are from Colorado and Texas who have second homes there.