State officials cautious but optimistic with COVID response

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SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The main message of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s Thursday press conference was cautiously optimistic. She said we must keep moving slow in our fight and not make the same mistakes we did last time.

Cases are starting to go down again, but we first started seeing a major spike, especially in younger people, when restaurants started reopening, and after the Fourth of July holiday. Doctor Scrase delivered a warning Thursday. “I would just beg people based on what we saw after Fourth of July in New Mexico, to start planning now for a stay-at-home Labor Day weekend with the people you live with,” Dr. Scrase said.

Dr. Scrase says new data shows it is taking one third of patients longer than two to three weeks to get better, and specifically in people ages 18-34, 20% of patients are not getting better within that time period. NOw, an area where the state is doing much better is in long-term care facilities, now ranking 32nd in the U.S. for COVID cases per capita.

The only change the governor made to the public health order is allowing people to once again visit loved ones living in a facility, with PPE and social distancing, in these select 21 New Mexico counties that have a spread rate, lower than 5%. Much of southeast New Mexico is noticeably absent on that list, as their percentage of positive cases is increasing.

New Mexico is once again back to “red” in a sea of “dark red,” signaling some progress toward reopening within the gating criteria. However, the governor says normal is still a long ways off. “As long as there is not a vaccine, we are living in COVID. As long as we’re living in COVID, we have to talk about testing, and cases, and contact tracing, and gating criteria. WE have to mourn the losses every single day, every single week in New Mexico. It’s harsh, but it doesn’t mean we aren’t beating back the virus,” the governor said.

Dr. Scrase also said Thursday that contact tracing is working. The state is very close to contacting positive cases within 24-hours and people they have had contact with in 36-hours. Testing is also improving, the number of tests per day reached more than 7,500 this week, well above the 5,000 goal. The public health order has been extended throughout August 28.

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