Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham put New Mexico’s reopening plans on hold Thursday after a spike in the COVID-19 transmission rate and as neighboring states reported record numbers of cases.

Officials are pausing the second phase of a reopening plan and will wait at least an additional week before making changes to public health orders originally scheduled for July 1.

While businesses that are now open can remain operational, the state will delay decisions on raising the limit on mass gatherings and allowing additional openings, Lujan Grisham said.

“We are not quite ready to go to phase two,” she said during a news conference broadcast on her Facebook page.

Since initially shutting down schools and businesses as the novel coronavirus pandemic took hold in March, New Mexico allowed some businesses to reopen, although at a slower pace than most other states.

But New Mexico’s seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases has been on the rise since the beginning of June, while its disease transmission rate has surged to 1.12, which is above the state’s target of 1.05, Human Services Secretary David Scrase said.

That spread rate has increased in four of the state’s five regions over the past week. For instance, the number dropped below 1 in the southwest part of the state, meaning the disease was considered to be receding, but since then has shot up to 1.27 in that area.

“There is absolutely no question that the trending is going up. This is an issue,” Scrase said.

Lujan Grisham attributed the trend, in part, to the limited reopenings of many businesses and parks, as well as events like the primary election this month.

But she also blamed some people’s behavior, striking a harsher tone Thursday than in previous briefings. The governor noted many state residents were failing to wear face coverings and maintaining social-distancing measures.

“New Mexicans have actually gotten really lax about wearing masks and taking this seriously,” she said.

The governor said she had seen recent photos of New Mexicans violating all the main distancing instructions by congregating in groups larger than five people, not wearing masks and not remaining 6 feet apart.

“Based on what I saw today and photos in Albuquerque, I would say I saw about a 30 percent compliance with masks,” she said. “If that rate continues, I know we’re not going to see a reduction in transmission.”

The reopening of the economy nationwide and fewer COVID-19 news conferences with White House officials and other governors also has spurred Americans to let down their guard, Lujan Grisham said.

“It gave way too many Americans a false sense of security,” she said.

As a result, the governor said she would consider reimposing harsher public health restrictions if the COVID-19 data continues to worsen.

While Lujan Grisham did not elaborate much on what that might entail, she said the state could enforce mask-wearing by issuing citations to people who don’t have face coverings in public — although she noted she didn’t want to go that far.

“Everything is back on the table about how we might enforce mask-wearing,” she said.

She also said the state could “restrict openings for the next set of businesses” if residents continue to defy the mask instructions.

She and Scrase urged New Mexicans not to regard the wearing of face coverings as a political issue but as a precaution strongly recommended by public health experts.

“Protect your fellow New Mexicans,” she said.

Lujan Grisham pointed out the state’s stay-at-home order has not been lifted, and she urged people to remain in their dwellings unless it’s necessary to go out.

The state Health Department reported 207 additional COVID-19 cases Thursday, bringing the state’s total to 11,192. There were five new coronavirus-related deaths for a total of 485.

There are currently 135 people hospitalized for COVID-19 in the state. Only 270 intensive care beds were occupied, far below the state’s threshold of 460.

New Mexico’s COVID-19 numbers are also on the rise because of the rapid spread occurring in neighboring Texas and Arizona, which opened their economies sooner and faster, officials said.

Texas is seeing an average rate of 4,195 new cases per day, and some intensive care units are close to or over their capacity, Scrase said.

Meanwhile, the total number of cases in Arizona has tripled since Memorial Day as the number of positive tests has accelerated from 5 percent to 22 percent, he added.

“In Arizona’s case, this is an absolute disaster,” Scrase said.

The trends are particularly troublesome for New Mexico because a significant number of Texas and Arizona counties close to the New Mexico border have high case rates.

El Paso County, for instance, has the sixth-highest number of cases in Texas and has recorded 4,488 cases and 120 deaths.

Additionally, many state residents travel across the border as part of their daily lives, and officials have traced significant numbers of newly confirmed cases to neighboring states.

Lujan Grisham noted one family from Hidalgo County that crossed state lines for a graduation ceremony and brought back COVID-19.

The governor said the state expects out-of-state visitors to wear masks and prefers people don’t travel to New Mexico at all.

The increase in cases could affect schools as well: Lujan Grisham said schools — which this week received a reopening plan for the Public Education Department — won’t be able to reopen in the fall if people don’t socially distance.

“We cannot go back to school unless we manage this virus and the spread of this virus better,” Lujan Grisham said. “We owe it to every single student.”

The partisan divide on the reopening issue continued Thursday, with Republicans continuing their criticism of the governor’s health policies.

Before the briefing, House Minority Whip Rod Montoya, R-Farmington, called on Lujan Grisham to allow wineries to reopen.

“For months, you and your staff have chosen winners and losers in New Mexico’s economy,” Montoya said in a statement. “With the Balloon Fiesta being canceled, and our tourism economy essentially shutdown by your orders, our state is going to face a worse than expected financial crush as our tourism economic drivers are shut out of the recovery.”

As for what happens next, Lujan Grisham said officials will continue to rely on medical data to inform their decisions.

She said the state could still continue to reopen and allow more businesses to reopen next month, but New Mexicans would have to do their part.

“I need a week’s worth of data, which is why I’m pausing,” she said. “I need to know that New Mexicans will adhere to COVID-safe practices.”

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Jens Gould covers politics for the Santa Fe New Mexican. He was a correspondent for Bloomberg News in Mexico City, a regular contributor for TIME in California, and produced the video series Bravery Tapes.

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(55) comments

Pam Walker

I can't help but think that the demonstrations are adding to the spike. 200 people on Saturday and how many more on all the other demonstrations. No social distancing there. And you seem to allow that and not even break them up. Yes they are wearing masks so I guess that is alright. Through this whole thing there have been differences of treatment and restrictions. The State is in shambles and will be for a long time.

Jay Joseph

Being outside makes a big difference. The virus doesn't like UV rays.

DG Citizen

Well the increase in the number cases is related to increased testing, not due to the increased spread of the disease.

Richard Reinders

It all depends on your perspective all are right and none are right if your a business owner with everything to loose , your business your house your car and bankruptcy, or and employee with a stimulus check, a PPP check, and a unemployment check and any number of businesses to hire you. A man once said "walk a mile in my shoes" before passing judgement.

Angel Ortiz

Disagree with the Governor all you want but it beats the situation in our neighboring states. Look at the great decisions made in Texas and Arizona. I trust our Governor and taking responsibility by wearing my mask in public. Get a grip people!

Peter Romero

MLG figures since we are last in everything good and first in everything bad I can do whatever I want with no consequences.

Rob Morlino

There's a lot of bad information and causticity here. But discussing these matters and our differences of opinion is critical for civil discourse. How many of you would be brave and willing enough to engage in fact-checked, Oxford-style debate on the issue? Clearly, not much is solved in comments sections and this forum for argumentation only breeds more resentment. I think there are better ways to disagree, find common ground, and reach compromise.

Jim Klukkert

Rob Morlino- Well said, and if only!

Rob Morlino

Thanks, Jim! Weird how quiet everyone else has gotten...

Jim Klukkert

Rob Morlino Are they all seeking beds in a Houston hospital?

John Martinez

The virus is like a faucet, the more you open it the more cases you're gonna get. Tighten it and the less you get. Do not listen to people like Orlie Romero. You don't need to be a scientist or statistician to see the facts. Just take the Navajo Nation for example where the cases were coming up like wildfire because they weren't taking it seriously...not wearing masks, not social distancing and hanging out in big groups. Once they really tightened the restrictions and the people started wearing masks and social distancing they were able to get the hospitalizations and deaths down. Lung fungus? Seriously, haha? Wear the mask to protect others, not you. Tough talk doesn't make people tough, being honorable and protecting others makes you tough.

Jay Joseph

Agreed. And glad our governor is following the CDC's guidelines. Unfortunately, our president hasn't. He's encouraged people to defy the guidelines and failed to set a good example himself. The irony is, the economy would be in better shape and there would be far fewer cases if he had listened to the public health experts. We see this in Europe and Asia. Germany, for example, has one-third the cases per capita and an unemployment rate that's ten points lower than ours.

Lee DiFiore

MLG is anathema to give up any of the power she has unilaterally seized in the last 3 - 4 months. This isn't the last postponement we will see. KRQE had a story a couple days back that states were ranked by their level of restrictions and shut downs. NM ranked 51st (including DC) so we are again last (or in this case first) at another measure.

Jim Klukkert

Lee DiFiore- Governor Lujan-Grisham has definitely not "unilaterally seized" power. Governors are empowered under the Consititution's 10th Amendment, Case Law, and in New Mexico, numerous State Statutes, to issue Public Health Orders during a Public Health Emergency.

Your comment betrays a profound ignorance of the Law. I will be glad to post a fairly concise post listing the Legal Grounds that the Governor had for her actions.

Jay Joseph

Governors have a lot of power within the realm of public health. What they don't have is a lot of money. Unlike the federal government, states cannot run deficits.

Amy Earle

Some of these comments are idiotic. NM is sandwiched between 2 states that flung the doors wide open and now have out of control outbreaks. They visit our state and vice versa. It’s hurting us. Open more businesses with cases trending up? You need a bottle of wine that bad buy one at Walgreens. We don’t need wineries or bars opened until we get this upward trend back down. We have few tools to fight the virus. Masks and distancing are it right now. Masks are not going to harm the wearer’s health. Time to stop watching Fox and start reading some science if you believe something silly like that. Bottom line is we have to do better if we want more normal lives again and a functioning economy. Wear a mask, socially distance, stop gathering in too big groups, and stay home as much as possible. Right now that’s all we have to get the virus under control.

Robert Bartlett

You appear to have a bad case of Fox derangement syndrome. Try a buttery chardonnay.

Jim Klukkert

Robert Bartlett- You seem to have an aversion to logic and factual information.

In lieu of an intelligent response, and for lack of any coherent perspective, you throw insults.

Very much like dear leader!

Thanks to Amy Earle for drawing out Robert Bartlett's true colors.

Arnold Mayberg

And what about the mortgages, food needs, and other bills for those out of work?

Jim Klukkert

Arnold Mayberg- Defending America's Health and Economy is a National Issue in this time of Pandemic. It is the National Government's obligation to keep safe our health, and to provide the economic help needed by it's citizens and State and Local Governments.

Of course the Trump administration is taking the Affordable Care Act to the Supreme Court to have it struck down, leaving millions without Health Care.

So maybe no help from Republicans. Do the Math: Vote Straight Democratic This November!

david J.

Barry Rabkin

Open our State as slowly and as cautiously as the data guide our healthcare and medical advisors. Laser-focus on saving lives ... as the Governor has repeatedly said is the correct course of action. Ignore the idiots that have somehow escaped the stupidity and ignorance of the Midieval Era.

Richard Reinders

When they add up the suicide rate for unemployed 10,000 for every 1% unemployed , destroyed businesses, destroyed economy and bankrupt families maybe you have the data needed to see if this was right or not. I would rather die fighting then to die like cattle or sheep being herded.

Jim Klukkert

R ichard Reinders- would you please sort this out for me? I am having trouble understanding 'the suicide rate for unemployed 10,000 for every 1% unemployed'


Richard Reinders

Read here is part of it "In 2018, the U.S. suicide rate was already at 14.8 per 100,000—dangerously close to those Great Depression rates. The average rate between 2008 and 2018 was about 13.1 per 100,000. If the U.S. rate jumps in the same manner it did after the 1929 stock market crash, then the national suicide rate could rise to 16.6 per 100,000. In other words, 2021 could see more than 54,000 deaths by suicide (versus about 48,000 in 2018). The 6,000 excess deaths—which I fervently hope do not occur—would be additional victims of the coronavirus emergency and its economic impact." I think 2018 was based on 4.8 percent unemployed. Oh by the way I see 3 or four other post you haven't tried to bully with your verbal diarrhea, in the future pick on someone else.

Jim Klukkert

Richard Reinders- Thanks for a content dense and fact based reply. Very interesting, and information I did not have. I appreciate that.

Regarding your comment "Oh by the way I see 3 or four other post you haven't tried to bully with your verbal diarrhea." I do not challenge folks who post well thought positions that are data based and can be attributed. Sometimes I will pleasantly engage with folks of different viewpoints, hopefully for mutual benefit and perhaps even a greater understanding for our larger community,

Folks who lean in with falsehoods, exaggerated distortions and insults, or who just are not mature enough to have matured past their narrow prividged backgrounds, will find me calling out their silliness.

I do right by those who do right, despite differing viewpoints.

Do wrong by the published SFNM Community Guidelines, and folks won't have to ask why one's teeth are so brown after eating what I serve up.


Richard Reinders

I am not saying that anyone should not shelter in place and wear masks if that is their wish, my self I keep my distance and wash my hands often. I am only saying if we still allow history we will look back at the cost of the decisions we made during this crisis.

Maxwell Vertical

How much of the increase in cases is due to expanded testing that identifies more asymptomatic people who have the virus? Hospitalizations are dropping even though cases are going up. Also, recovered patients continue to rise as quickly as new cases. I wish MLG would provide comprehensive reports including trends on all of the data instead of just part of the story.

Jeff Clark

When I see what's going on directly to the east and west, I am so thankful to have MLG in charge.

Barry Rabkin

Jeff: I agree with you 100%. We could have the horror-show of Texas or Arizona if the Governor opens our State too quickly. I am extremely thankful she is our Governor.

Orlie Romero

What’s going on Jeff, same predicament with masks not helped at all. You can’t say we stay closed due to covid uptick then say masks helped, blues clues!

Robert Bartlett

The people of Albuquerque and the rest of New Mexico are already tuning out Grisham.

We need to get back to work so that families can take care of themselves.

Jim Klukkert

Robert Bartlett- You appear to have a bad case of Fox derangement syndrome. Try a nice long nap, or maybe book a trip to Florida, Arizona or Texas!

Orlie Romero

Or maybe someone loves the load of cnn/msnbc.

Jim Klukkert

Robert Bartlett- of perhaps you have a bad case of MLG derangement syndrome. Still thinking a trip to a state with a like minded Governor would help relax you, and still thing Texas, Arizona or Florida!

Orlie Romero

Let’s raise the bar here in NM

1. Masks were put into effect and many already were wearing them for 4 months, guess what?

It hasn’t worked period, if so why are we not open? Think mcfly, think!

Masks and closures do NOTHING

Martin Perea

The Governor is not wearing a mask while scolding us about not wearing masks.

Orlie Romero

Open the place up, this is ridiculous! Another issue, all you people wearing masks better start waking up, OSHA is saying not to do it at all, very bad for your lungs due to heat, sweat and fungus. Please dint wear masks, they do nothing for you in a positive Manet. Wake Up!

David Ford

“Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.”

― Mark Twain


coming from a person who has never had to work minimum wage to support a family ,

David Ford

No Bob, coming from a person who has many many times wondered how I was going to pay rent, buy food, put gas in the car etc., etc., and for real! Also coming from a veteran (Vietnam 1970-71) who served so that 'mericans can be free but also stupid and risk other citizens.

Thank you Governor for trying to keep ALL your citizens safe and working hard to overcome the biggest obstacle, science deniers, and political haters.....


Also coming from a veteran (Vietnam 1970-71) who served so that 'mericans can be free but also stupid and risk other citizens. INVADED A TINY COUNTRY , VIETNAM, THAT DID NOTHING TO US AND HAD NO RESOURCES TO BOMB OR INVADE THE USA, WHO HAD NOT DECLARED WAR ON THE USA, YES WE DESTROYED THAT TINY TINY COUNTRY WHO DID NOTHING TO US AND KILLED THOUSANDS AND MAIMED THOUSANDS, AND DESTROYED ENTIRE VILLAGES AND ECONOMY, AND STILL HAVE MILLIONS OF UNEXPLODED ORDINAnCE STREWN ABOUT from Oklahoma yes Vietnam was such a threat to US They were just about to invade the us and take over the whole country

David Ford

The ignorance here is mind boggling. The statistics for the last two days have set records nationwide for the number of cases over and above what we saw in April during the midst of what we thought at the time was the height of the outbreak. It is coming back and will, with a vengeance in large part due to those "freedom lovin' 'mericans" who refuse to participate in this national health emergency by simply wearing a mask. A numbingly simple thing to do. It's hard to breathe or scream for your rights when you or your loved ones are dead. It is also a sign of immature selfishness to decide that wearing a mask is the right thing to do. It is not. You think the economy looks bad now - wait until the second and third wave - and yet we can all help to ensure that it recovers, and quickly, by participating in basic suggestions of the health professionals, and not some deranged narcissist lunatic in the white house. BTW you also can't vote for dear leader as a "freedom 'lovin 'merican" when your dead......

Orlie Romero

David, you appear small minded, most people understand what’s going on. Think, if all this mask issue worked wouldn’t we be open and the pandemic be minimized??? It doesn’t work, majority knew it wouldn’t, it’s common sense.

Myself and the Trump have never worn a mask or even paid any attention whatsoever, feeling great and don’t have to worry about lung fungus issues from masks.

Jim Klukkert

Orlie Romero- You are so right! "Most people understand what’s going on," which is why a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll finds "Trump's approval rating sits at just 40% overall, while a record 58% disapprove."

Trump's handling of the pandemic is a failure.

If you are not going to wear a mask, will you and your family please pledge to not bother health worker when you get sick, and please promise to die at home alone.


Orlie Romero

Poll, you still follow that, exactly what I’m stating, ROBOTS!

Orlie Romero

I’ve already had covid as has family, you will be fine buttercup!

James Morris

We are so lucky to have her as governor..


TEXAS 2-3-2020

Martin Perea

The Governor is not wearing a mask while scolding us about not wearing masks.


yes she has the personality (mannerisms, language, non verbal body language)of a compulsive, control domineering and loves to pull the puppet strings . Totally unfit for her job but advanced all her life due to gender and name . most people have stopped listening to her garble and only exist.

Arnold Mayberg

Wineries should be allowed to open. With their vast area they are made for social distancing and should really safely thrive during this pandemic. They are also one of the few venues where live music can be heard at the moment. I will be heading to an out of state winery myself today.

Richard Reinders

Classic example, wineries like breweries make their product and sell to the public and unlike breweries most people go to winery for a tasting buy the wine and leave where a brewery is more like a bar where they buy a couple beers and hang out. The wineries have been treated like redheaded step children since the beginning, and no don't beat me up for picking on red heads.

Richard Reinders

I am convinced MLG is throwing darts at the problem, she allows one type of business to open but not another business that is identical in what it does and in some case with less public contact. MLG has not sat down and really examined the businesses and what they do and how they operate , she picks businesses to open like she pick her jewelry on a whim.

Chris Mechels

The message from the Governor, as usual is long winded and confused. She seems to rely on wishful thinking and prayer. For instance, we must do our part and wear the masks, but no hard data supports their efficacy, and SHE insisted we NOT wear masks for some two months, and now has us wearing "ad hoc" masks. No wonder its hard to buy her program, as she hasn't bought it. She wishes we would wear masks, and hopes that they help. Wishful thinking. I wear an old N-95, a serious mask. I'd love to see her move to "serious" masks, with some REAL data on mask usage.

She's not doing her part, but she ignores that. The number of tests consistently fails her goals, and the contact tracing also fails consistently. Her management skills are not impressive, when she fails her own goals week after week. Looking to the Koreans and Chinese, they go after Covid outbreaks with lots of testing and contact tracing, where we fall down. They also "lock down" only "hot" areas, unlike Michelle who "locks down" the whole state. In a word, we know what "success" looks like; Korea and China; but New Mexico is NOT doing that.

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