The second phase of reopening in New Mexico is now on pause, the state’s Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced this week.
A recent increase in cases of the novel coronavirus in New Mexico, as well as a surge in cases in neighboring states, namely Arizona, led Grisham to delay the second phase of reopening. At a news conference on Thursday, she also cited an “alarming sustained rise in cases nationally” as a reason behind her decision, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.
Initially, phase 2 — which includes raising the number of people who can gather at once and additional business reopenings, such as bars, casinos and movie theatres — was scheduled for July 1. It’s now unclear when the Land of Enchantment will move on to the second phase.
During the news conference, Grisham also threatened to shut down businesses if the number of new cases in the state does not improve. New Mexico’s seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases has trended upward since the beginning of June, according to the Santa Few New Mexican. The state’s disease transmission rate has also increased in recent weeks, rising to 1.12, above the state’s goal of 1.05.
“If we don’t do better, I have to do the work of the decision-maker which is to make those tough decisions about making sure that I keep New Mexicans safe and whatever they are, I’ll make them,” Grisham said during the news conference, reported local news outlet KFOX-TV.
The governor also said that many New Mexicans have become lax about expert-recommended safety precautions, namely social distancing and wearing a face mask or covering.
“New Mexicans have actually gotten really lax about wearing masks and taking this seriously,” she said, citing one city in particular: Albuquerque.
“Based on what I saw today and photos in Albuquerque, I would say I saw about a 30 percent compliance with masks. If that rate continues, I know we’re not going to see a reduction in transmission,” she added. “Everything is back on the table about how we might enforce mask-wearing.”
New Mexico reported 207 additional COVID-19 cases on Thursday and five additional virus-linked deaths. In total, the state has reported 11,192 cases of the novel coronavirus and some 485 deaths, according to official estimates.