NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – It has been three months since Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham ordered the shutdown of nonessential businesses and banned mass gatherings. Since then, a lot has changed. As places slowly start to reopen, KRQE News 13 shows viewers how New Mexicans have adapted during the COVID-19 pandemic and what lies ahead.
“This is quite frankly an instruction to stay home,” Gov. Lujan Grisham announced during a March 23rd press conference. At the time, New Mexico had 83 confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Gov. Lujan Grisham issued a public health order, forcing all non-essential businesses to close statewide. “You may not congregate in any of these businesses,” she said during that March 23 news conference.
Since then, New Mexicans have run through a gamut of emotions. Parents home with their kids became teachers, adapting and facing challenges of online learning with schools shut down.
“I’m a teacher so I would really love to be able to return to the classroom in the fall,” Laurie Lopez said. “But if this is what we have to make happen, this is what we have to make happen,” she added.
Sporting events came to a halt. Concerts were canceled for the foreseeable future.
A ban on mass gatherings forced some businesses to close indefinitely, and unemployment hit record numbers. “I was really overwhelmed and just sad at the thought of having to let people go,” recalled Pilar Westell, the owner of Zendo Coffee in downtown Albuquerque.
In recent weeks, lots of New Mexicans have returned to work. Businesses are slowly reopening with limited capacity, social distancing and mask-wearing. “Being a small business owner, you just kind of go into a survival mode and really try and do everything you can to keep your business going,” said Westell.
“Three months, it feels more like about a year,” said Sheri Crider, the owner of Sanitary Tortilla Factory. Though Crider has admittedly had a rough time, she said, “It’s been incredibly reassuring to have great business neighbors that are really invested in the community.”
Looking ahead, New Mexicans are still faced with a lot of questions. What will school look like for kids across the state? When might a crowd come together once again for games at the Pit or Isotopes Park?
State health officials are paying close attention to cases rising in neighboring states, and insist they’ll rely on data and science to continue guiding New Mexico through the pandemic. “It’s absolutely essential that we be aware of the risks,” said Dr. David Scrase, Secretary of the Human Services Department, during his June 19 webinar.
“Financially I went through a lot of different conversations in my head, moving to ‘Oh no, what are we gonna do? To like, ‘Ok we can do this,'” explained Crider. “Just kind of coming up with a weekly plan of what’s next, what’s the next challenge at hand.”
The current health order is in effect through the end of the month and still bans any gatherings of more than five people. It’s unclear when that may change.
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