Governor Lujan Grisham declares public health emergency following confirmed cases of coronavirus

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The New Mexico Department of Health and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham have confirmed on Wednesday, March 11 that four New Mexico residents have tested presumptively positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).

According to NMDOH, two cases are in Socorro County and one case is a husband and wife both of which are in their 60s and recently traveled to Egypt. The last, most recent case is a woman in her 60s from Santa Fe County with known recent travel to the New York City area.

The third case is a woman in her 70s in Bernalillo County who recently traveled to the New York City area. All three individuals are at their homes in isolation. A statement was issued by the University of New Mexico Hospital:

“The University of New Mexico Hospital has been notified by the NM Department Health that there is one presumed confirmation case of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) from a patient that was seen at a UNMH outpatient clinic. The patient recently traveled to New York. Due to privacy concerns under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) we will not be releasing further information about the patient.”

The governor announced that three cases have tested positive at a local laboratory and the results will be confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control.

Governor Lujan Grisham announced several points during a news conference on Wednesday:

  • Governor has declared a public health emergency
  • No state employees are allowed to travel out-of-state for work
  • Public is advised to avoid non-essential travel to affected areas out-of-state
  • State will be canceling large events through at least April, the Gathering of Nations is postponed
  • Governor advises residents to not attend public gatherings such as church, neighborhood meetings etc. in order to minimize exposure
  • Toll-free hotline made available 24/7 to the public at 855-600-3453 if you have concerns that you may have been exposed to coronavirus
  • At this time the Department of Health is not advising that any schools close. The Public Education Department is working closely with NMDOH in order to determine guidelines for potential school closure and what protocols would need to be completed before a school would re-open in the case of community spread of the virus in the state.
  • NMDOH is urging residents to exercise caution in visiting relatives living in nursing homes

The declaration of a public health emergency will result in the General Services Dept. will make sure goods and supplies will be available and that the Department of Finance and Administration will immediately identify emergency funds for disbursement in various ways to ensure the government will continue to operate and that the private sector receives needed resources.

The governor also announced that as of Wednesday, no state employees will be allowed to travel out of state for work. Gov. Lujan Grisham stated that her office has been in contact with all bodies of local government as well as their partners and is encouraging they do the same.

Officials have directed state government and are advising local governments across the state to cancel events with large crowds through at least the end of April.

The Gathering of Nations has been postponed at this time in an attempt to minimize out of state travelers exposing others to the virus. The public has been advised not to attend any large public gatherings including church, community meetings, neighborhood association meetings, etc.

“No one who is leading this response is panicked. No one in New Mexico should be panicked,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham.

While the governor acknowledged that some individuals may be concerned following this announcement, she is advising the public not to immediately visit their healthcare provider as efforts to control unnecessary contact will be hindered. The toll-free number 855-600-3453 has been provided for the public to call for information regarding coronavirus concerns where trained healthcare physicians are monitoring responses and best practices.

Officials responding to calls will be able to walk you through correct procedures and assess and identify your risks.

“So our job at the Department of Health besides being prepared and not panicking is to investigate those cases thoroughly so that we can prevent any other spread in the community as well as contain it if there is spread,” said Dr. Chad Smelser with the New Mexico Department of Health.

As of the end of the day on Tuesday, March 10, 2020, NMDOH was reporting there were a total of 87 individuals tested for coronavirus in the state all of which tested negative for the virus. As of Wednesday, March 11 at 10:40 a.m. NMDOH was reporting three confirmed positive cases of coronavirus in New Mexico with a total of 90 individuals tested.

NMDOH has been working with TriCore Reference Laboratories to make additional testing available at locations across New Mexico. The department anticipates this testing to be operational by next week.

This week the Department of Health has activated the Bureau of Health and Emergency Management’s Department Operations Center at level 3 to support ongoing pandemic readiness activities that are related to coronavirus. In addition, NMDOH is also monitoring hospital bed capacity in the state as well as the availability of facemasks, respirators and other personal protective equipment.

The New Mexico Department of Health has issued a page for frequently asked questions concerning COVID-19.

Symptoms

Typical COVID-19 symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face
  • Pneumonia

What to Do if You Get Sick

  • Stay home and call your doctor
  • Call your healthcare provider and let them know about your symptoms. Tell them that you have or may have COVID-19. This will help them take care of you and keep other people from getting infected or exposed.
  • If you are not sick enough to be hospitalized, you can recover at home. Follow CDC instructions for how to take care of yourself at home.
  • Know when to get emergency help
  • Get medical attention immediately if you have any of the emergency warning signs listed above.

Ways to prevent the spread of viruses 

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Use an alcohol-based (60%) hand sanitizer, if soap and water are not available
  • Cover your mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
  • Practice good health habits
  • You should not go to work and your child should not go to school if you or your child have a fever of 100.4 or greater. (Before you return to work or your child returns to school there should be no fever for 24 hours without medication)

Related Coverage:

Sources

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