New Mexico toughens stance on Coronavirus with new restrictions

As of Wednesday, March 18, there are a total of 28 COVID-19 cases in New Mexico including the first possible community-spread case. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham made the announcement at a press conference.

Of the five new cases announced, two are travel-related, two are from being in close contact with someone with the virus, and one had no known exposure to the virus.

That case is a woman From Bernalillo County in her 40s. The state is investigating this case.

“Your government is not panicked. Your governor is not panicked. Your state and governor are prepared to make every difficult decision to continue to keep us safe. Every potential decision that does that is on the table,” said Governor Lujan Grisham.

To keep the virus from spreading, even more, the governor announced new emergency orders that will go into effect Thursday, March 19, at 8 a.m.:

  • Gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited.
  • Movies, shopping centers, spas, gyms, and other recreational facilities are ordered to close unless they can operate at that 10 person capacity.
  • Restaurants will take-out or delivery only.
  • The state is limiting the purchasing of hygiene products and over the counter medication to three per person.

“I am sure that there are many New Mexicans who are going to feel like this is such an infringement on their individual rights to purchase what they want to purchase,” said Governor Lujan Grisham. “But if I have a family of children who can’t get formula.. and we have families and seniors and disabled adults all over the state who can’t access toilet tissue, and you need over the counter pain medication, allergy medication, we need there to be enough, there’s enough.”

She said this order will prevent hoarding.

“Nothing that we’re heard anywhere around the world that the supply chain is problematic. It’s keeping the stocking right? We need to close long enough in order to restock, and that people are taking everything off the shelves,” said the governor.

The governor also took many moments throughout the press conference to thank grocery store workers along with first responders, daycare providers, healthcare professionals, and other essential workers who are working during the virus outbreak.

Without giving specifics, Governor Lujan Grisham said not complying with the new orders could result in fines, criminal penalties, or even put a business’s license in jeopardy.

For now, the Sunport is still open and people are allowed to come to and from New Mexico. However, the governor is working to change that. She’s asking the mayors of Albuquerque and Santa Fe to ask the FAA to either limit or even stop travel via New Mexico airports.

“I need New Mexicans to take seriously the precautions the state is undertaking. And they need to think about finishing up that work, that vacation, that family event, and come home because we think that’s an effective way to limit the incoming spread of the virus,” said the governor.

As for testing, the Governor said the state can do 700 tests a day. The state has six drive-thru test sites and plans to get five more up and running.

“We’re setting up sites through the Department of Health at five additional areas and on the advice of the epidemiologist, Roswell, Las Vegas, potentially Taos, Cruces, and we’re working with the city of Albuquerque today to set up a site at the west side shelter,” said Secretary Kathy Kunkel, with New Mexico Department of Health.

New Mexicans KRQE News 13 spoke with said they understand the governor’s intent for ordering these restrictions and hope people can be patient in the meantime.

“We will get through this, I have no doubt,” said Albuquerque local Leigh Maxie. “It is not going to be quite the same but we’re gonna get through it.”

The emergency orders start March 19, at 8 a.m. and are in place until April 10. The orders could be extended or even additional restrictions added if the governor feels like it’s necessary to come April 10.

News Reporter