Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham wants to test every New Mexican for coronavirus.

Speaking on MSNBC’s news program The 11th Hour on Monday night, the governor said while New Mexico is among the top states in terms of testing residents per capita, it “should be doing a lot more.”

Her spokesman, Tripp Stelnicki, said in an email Tuesday the “quickest way out of this [crisis] is universal testing ... everyone gets tested, we know the exact extent of the disease.”

He said such an expansive plan requires federal approval of test kits and related supplies, but “we’re working on how to do it ourselves anyway and expand capacity as much as we can.”

He said he does not yet have more details on how that might work.

The Governor’s Office announced Tuesday that 17 more people tested positive for the virus, bringing New Mexico’s total to 100. Two of the new cases were in Santa Fe County, which has 14 cases.

The governor’s Monday interview with television news host Brian Williams came the same day the COVID Tracking Project, a test-tracking program created by a medical-data startup and two journalists at the Atlantic, published a map showing how each state is faring in terms of testing numbers.

As of Monday, New Mexico had tested 5,386 people, or 2,569 per million residents, placing it third among the 50 states and the District of Columbia — behind Washington state at 4,055 per million and New York at 3,156 per million.

Ohio was last on the list, with 42 people tested per million.

Several state lawmakers on Tuesday praised the governor’s efforts to stem the spread of the virus.

Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, said Lujan Grisham’s actions are “setting a national model on how to deal with this. Her willingness to push, to ramp up the number of tests, to find medical equipment wherever she can, her willingness to push the White House for help, is why the number of cases is not skyrocketing here.”



Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, said the governor “had done a good job under the circumstances. ... I think we’re doing all we can do to keep it under control and hopefully in the next two weeks it will peak and we will get on the downhill side.”

Ingle likes the idea of testing all of the state’s roughly 2 million residents but questioned how it might be done. “If people don’t feel sick and they’ve been staying home and there’s no exposure in their counties that they are aware of, they probably don’t have a real urge to get tested,” he said. “There’s got to be a will.”

Sen. Shannon Pinto, D-Gallup, said the state has “been pretty proactive” in addressing the public health crisis. But she said there are still testing gaps in her district, which includes McKinley and San Juan counties, which had a total of 10 cases as of Tuesday. She said many living in that area, which is heavily populated by Native Americans, do not have running water and cannot follow recommended safety procedures such as washing their hands throughout the day.

She likes the idea of testing everyone but said she does not know how the state would do that, given a lot of people pass through her region to somewhere else. “I would hate to see people move from one place to another if they are exposed to the virus,” she said.

Meanwhile, officials at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center said they have conducted 200 coronavirus tests. Five patients who tested positive are quarantined at home, hospital officials said.

Lillian Montoya, president and CEO of Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, said hospital staff are monitoring two patients who are “under investigation but not positive” for the virus. The hospital, which has 200 patient beds, is at about 60 percent capacity now, she said.

In her interview on MSNBC, Lujan Grisham said New Mexico is using up-to-date data to expand its capacity to test patients for infections and restrict people from gathering in large groups or going to work. “We are a state doing better, I think, in terms of our per capita representation of testing,” she said on The 11th Hour segment, called “What other states can learn from New Mexico’s coronavirus response.”

The governor told Williams the state’s efforts to track and test the virus are helped by the presence of two of the country’s national laboratories — Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories — and the research ability and instruments they have to address the issue.

She spoke of the state’s decision to provide free testing to everyone, regardless of their economic standing, and to cover the costs of treatment for those who are uninsured.

She ended the nearly five-minute segment with a warning: While health and government officials are chasing the virus “where the largest number of cases are. ... You better slow the spread in the rest of the country, or the whole country is going to look like that.”

General Assignment Reporter

Robert Nott has covered education and youth issues for the Santa Fe New Mexican. He is assigned to The New Mexican's city desk where he covers a general assignment beat.

(30) comments

John Onstad

Friends:

1. NM has tested approx. 1/4 of 1% of our population.

2. Gov. wants the whole state tested. At $500/test that's a billion bucks. Not a very good investment.

3. Tested positive just means you've been exposed, not that you're sick. Vast majority of those positive have no symptoms or minor symptoms.

Stop the hysteria.

John

Al Chavez

Well, no. Stop the misinformation. Labs are charging around $40 for the test and some insurance companies are charging nothing. If your $500 figure were true, hospitals and insurance companies would be bankrupt already.

christopher quintana

You l ow some infected but recovered people might be able to return to work

jeff jones

This creature, the Governor is satan. Do not trust anything she says. There is motive behind this, if to put billions of our tax dollars into a crony's pocket by buying test kits Her handling of this 'crisis' has been foolish and overeactive. Call the 'help' line tell them you have symtpms...they will send you home! BUT she wants to give billions for test kits, her motive has nothing to do with NM'ers health!

She has put 100k+ out of work with her foolish closures and will wreck our fragile state further. Easy for her mumbling face to say 'stay home' when she gets her 100K check no matter what. I hope this is her last term.

Angel Ortiz

People, this is a time of crisis. Instead of blaming everyone from the Governor to the immigrant population, I think it's time everyone does their part in this. Put on your big boy pants, adapt and deal with the current situation. The Governor has a wish list that may or may not come to fruition but she is way more proactive than our leadership in DC. No one has all the answers to this situation but all of us have a responsibility to ourselves and community. I am local and proud of my community. Stand up , quit complaining and show some resolve. If the Governor does not live up to your expectations or if NM.is not satisfy your needs, follow the advice of one of my vecinos. Pack up and go back to where you came from.

Margaret Garcia

That is ridiculous! Is the Governor not listening to the experts? Only be tested if you have symptoms. Testing everyone would drain the precious resources we have for those who really need testing!!!

1

Ted Nugent

Getting a royal flush in your first hand of poker – 1 in 649,740. Dying from COVID-19, three times as unlikely nationwide.

jeff jones

interesting, where did u get this info? link

Al Chavez

N.M. Trumpers have gotten to this thread. Ignore these folks; they have no idea what they're dealing with.

Elaine Summerhill

Exposure doesn't mean infection. On addition, one can test negative today and then, a week later, become infected. It makes ZERO sense to test anyone prior to any symptoms.

Meredith Madri

The reason South Korea was able to get control of the spread of Covid19 was WIDESPREAD testing.

up to 80% of infected people are walking around WITHOUT symptoms, yet able to infect others. This is the reason it makes TOTAL sense to test as many people as possible. Unfortunately there are not enough tests available for any of us in the U.S.

Al Chavez

Not true. The only reason there isn't more generalized testing—and repeat testing—is because there aren't enough tests to go around and perhaps because the lab capacity isn't there to process the tests. Therefore it makes sense to be careful about who should get the test in order to use them judiciously. But all other things being equal, the more testing the better. Common sense.

DG Citizen

Since we're not allowed to have these tests without showing symptoms, how would we get one?

Maxwell Vertical

Wanting something and having something are different things. Unless she has access to 2 million tests, which she doesn’t, she should stop creating unrealistic expectations. The reality is NM has very small numbers and is way down the priority list after the big metro areas. This is not the time for the governor to participate in political grandstanding. Stay home. Stay safe.

Marielle Valenzuela

"The Great State of New Mexico" — what kind of sycophancy is this disgraced "journalist" peddling? It starts out nonsensically with that intro. But I digress. She has no right to attempt to force New Mexicans to be tested. No symptoms, no test. I will not comply, nor will my family. My husband is a physician on the front lines — he also believes you are a complete fool, Lujan.

Her manner and presence is ugly and insulting. Little Socialist in Charge trying to take over our lives. She's full of sh*& regarding what NM is able to do. This is a state where over 50% of the population are on Medicaid and a state full of illegals putting demands on our health care. She's obviously clueless as to what's happening in New Mexico's hospitals.

Jon Block

This is more political baloney from the Governor. Just try to get tested. I was told that you cannot get the test unless you have all three symptoms: fever of 101.4 or above for at least three days, dry cough and shortness of breath. I was also told that if I had those symptoms I should check into a hospital and they will test me. At the same time there are people being tested who said publicly they have no symptoms. I reported this via email to Secretary Kunkle. My guess is nothing will be done to change the situation in the near term. Also, comparing the number of tests in New York without looking at the ratio of tests to total population means nothing. The entire population of New Mexico is just about 2.1 million. Manhattan island alone has more than 1.6 million. NY has tested over 15.6 thousand people. If we knew that all of the tests in NY were only for people in Manhattan, rounding 15,600 to 16,00o, that’s 16,000/1,600,000 which is 16 tests for every 1600 people compared to NM with about 3.26/1000. The rate of testing in NY, under those assumptions, is about five times that of NM.

kyle renfro

maybe they should wear masks when they do the abortions

Augustin de la Sierra

Since about March 11, reported infections in New Mexico have been doubling about every three days. At this rate, a rough model predicts all two million New Mexicans will be infected within six weeks.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo reported the same yesterday for his state: Reported infections are doubling about every three days. New York has about four weeks before the model predicts every resident of the state has COVID-19.

It is curious yet telling to me that New York's rate of increase is exactly the same as New Mexico's.

Governor Lujan Grisham seems to me to be doing a great job. I have no doubt that she is updated a few times a day with the outlook and how things are going to get much worse. Hence her push to get every New Mexican tested. As has been well-reported elsewhere, health care workers will see the worst of COVID-19 in every way. I hope at some point, the Governor calls for volunteers, as Britain has done. I will do anything to help health care workers here and elsewhere.

Emily Koyama

As I'm picking up some supplies at Food King yesterday, several families TOGETHER at the store. This is plain stupid. Leave one of the parents at home with the kids (or maybe at a park getting some fresh air) and send the other parent to get the provisions. Grocery shopping does not need to be a family affair. Common sense, people.

Ted Nugent

Food King shoppers know they have a better chance of winning the NM lottery than dying from COVID-19. It's fact.

Loyal Customer

We need to test the Governor for brain activity. Citizens run loose with AIDS , which is responsible for 35 million deaths over the years. And yet she never says a word.

Ted Nugent

The Governor is being cautious, which is right. But in the end, we'll all find out that COVID-19 scare was just that. Sickness happens, folks. We are human.

Ted Nugent

Natural selection

Ted Nugent

I drive around Santa Fe and notice virtually all business going full throttle. I still think MLG doing her best. It's too many people to corral in. Ultimately, short of becoming a police state, free will dominates and lots of folks simply selfish, only thinking of themselves.

kyle renfro

WHAT A JOKE TEST ALL NEW MEXICANS, WOW PEOPLE IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA WILL SAY ANYTHING TO LOOK GOOD,

Ted Nugent

Natural selection . . . you can run, but can't hide

Danny Rehn

I'm impressed with the governor's response so far. NM has the 3rd highest number of tests per person behind only WA and NY, and has been ahead of the game so far in making tough decisions to close things down. The fact is that the best way to limit the spread and death toll of the virus is to stop it early. That's also the best way to limit the economic impact. South Korea, Singapore, and Japan acted fast and got tests out quickly and are now through the worst of it. Unfortunately it appears the rest of the US is not following suit and testing still remains a huge issue. In the future we need a global plan to shut off travel to affected countries immediately. Imagine if the world had shut down all travel to China in mid-January. The economic impact would have nothing compared to what we're dealing with now.

Chris Mechels

All it takes is a quick trip to the grocery stores, and the truth is revealed. They are full, and show very little attention to the virus. The Governor, and the DOH Secretary, need to simply visit the grocers and then, finally, take action. Leading by exhortation is not working, full stop. The only reason our numbers look good is that we are behind on testing.

As a first step to address the testing problem, they need to scan the incoming shoppers for fever, a test that is very quick, cheap, and a good screening tool. Asia does this from the earliest days. We don't. Because we really don't want to know the size of the problem?

MLG telling "the rest" how to combat the virus is a lie and a joke. Even her latest "restrictions", sent to my email, hide the facts. It has a very short list of those "essential" businesses allowed to operate, but the Real List, available on the DOH website, is riddled with exceptions. Misleading at best... She just seems so consumed with Public Relations that the truth always comes second.

https://cv.nmhealth.org/stay-at-home-essential-businesses/

Until we face the truth, about Covid, the prisons, etc., it does not look good for our state.

Ted Nugent

NMDOH secretary K. Kunkle never approved flexible work schedules for NMDOH employees after MLG mandated such in 9/2020. This may have alleviated some of the turmoil early on when COVID-19 onset, at least for NMDOH employees. Oh well, better late than never.

Maxwell Vertical

So you’re saying the grocery stores should be closed?

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