Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham speaks from the governor’s mansion Thursday during an online news conference addressing the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Dismayed by key indicators that are jackknifing in the wrong direction, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham cautioned New Mexico may be at risk of having to again clamp down on the economy amid a huge rise in coronavirus cases.

The state’s recent spike is the third-highest in the country, with the change in the seven-day average of new cases at more than 100 percent over the past two weeks, officials said.

“We are at extreme risk of uncontrollable spread,” Lujan Grisham said Thursday afternoon during a virtual news conference broadcast on Facebook.

New Mexico had been faring well in its fight against COVID-19, with case averages well below targets from early August through late September. But that picture has changed dramatically over the past two weeks as the virus is now “spreading exponentially,” Lujan Grisham said.

The state recorded its second-highest daily case count ever on Wednesday, at 426, and reported 387 on Thursday. Nearly one-third of the new cases Thursday were in Bernalillo County, which has by far the largest number of total cases. Twenty were in Santa Fe County.

New Mexico’s transmission rate has shot up to 1.24, well above the state’s target of 1.05. A rate below 1 would mean the spread of the virus is in decline.

Meanwhile, the test positivity rate, which measures how many people who are tested for COVID-19 turn out to have the disease, has risen to 4.2 percent from around 2 percent two weeks ago. That rate skyrocketed to 9.7 percent on Wednesday.

The state is targeting a test positivity rate of less than 5 percent.

“These numbers don’t lie,” Lujan Grisham said. “They tell a story.”

The latest chapter could well include even tougher times for businesses and schools in the months ahead, if the state doesn’t see an improvement in the numbers and decides to roll back some of its previous efforts to reopen the economy.

The current public health order, which expires Oct. 16, restricts most businesses to partial capacity.

The governor did not announce any changes to that order on Thursday and said it was “premature” to say which reopenings could be rescinded, though she did say the number of “rapid responses” at businesses such as restaurants and retail shops were on the rise.

A rapid response occurs when state agencies immediately contact employers after one or more of their employees tests positive for COVID-19. In an effort to prevent further spread of the disease, businesses are typically required to temporarily halt operations, test employees, disinfect workplaces and implement COVID-19-safe practices.

Lujan Grisham also said the state was “definitely trending in the wrong direction to go back to in-person learning” at public schools.

Given the gloomy turn in the data, the governor exhorted New Mexicans to practice social distancing and COVID-19-safe measures in order to spur a reduction in the case count that could help the state avoid tightening restrictions.

She said many residents are interacting in public without their masks, attending large gatherings and traveling to too many places every day.

The governor urged New Mexico residents to be vigilant about mask-wearing, social distancing, hand-washing and self-isolation.

“This is the time to exercise as much caution as we possibly can,” Human Services Secretary David Scrase said.

Additionally, this year’s Halloween will likely be unlike any other.

The governor cited the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in urging people to avoid “high-risk activities” such as door-to-door trick-or-treating, in-person costume parties and haunted houses.

Instead, New Mexicans should limit themselves to homebound activities such as pumpkin carving and scary movie nights, Lujan Grisham said.

“It isn’t going to be the same,” she said.

The governor likened the current situation to a wildfire that could become uncontrollable and would have an “untenable” impact on businesses if they had to be closed again.

“If the wind is blowing and it’s incredibly dry … very quickly it gets out of control and you can’t contain it,” she said.

Lujan Grisham spoke from the governor’s mansion in Santa Fe, where she has been self-quarantined following a possible exposure to COVID-19 by a custodial worker.

The governor and her fiancé were tested for the disease on Wednesday and the results were negative, but they are continuing to quarantine, she said.

The custodial worker is experiencing “very mild symptoms” and is “doing quite well,” the governor said.

New Mexico is still meeting the majority of its gating criteria — which officials use to make coronavirus-related policy decisions.

It remains in the green in areas such as contact tracing and testing, and only 262 adult ICU beds are occupied — much lower than the target of 439 or less.

Still, the time the state has to get the case count under control is “really narrow,” the governor said.

“We are absolutely trending in the wrong direction,” she said. “It is more than the alarm bells — we’re beyond that.”


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.

(43) comments

Orlie Romero

The craziest thing about this is, we have a president who is 74, never wears a mask around thousands a day, he’s healthy as a horse. Yet, some lower level IQ people listen to low level state or city leaders who know zero. It’s the President people, the man is the best president we have ever had, wake up he’s trying to tell you without telling you, it’s ok!

Go outside, get your kids mental health back and get to work.

Jim Klukkert

Orlie Romero- Yes, Trump is "healthy as a horse,' until he gets Covid-19. Now he is high on steroids, announcing to the world all US troops will be out of Afghanistan by the end of 2020, too bad he didn't tell the Pentagon.

After catching Coivid-19, Trump stayed in denial long enough to host a Super-Spreader event at the White House. There are more people in Trump's circle down with the Virus, than current Virus infections in New Zealand, Vietnam and Taiwan combined!

'The man is the best president we have ever had,' yessir, only 212,000 American dead so far!

Leesa Vigil

Healthy as a horse? That's a laugh! hahahaha. Dudes clinically obese, wheezing, gasping for air on Rush Limbaugh, Fox News.

Orlie Romero

Actually only 10000 have died directly from covid, we have more people die from smoking, no mask wearing from that ordeal?

Vote Trump people, Biden doesn’t know what’s going on. Biden has already been in politics 47 years, zero accomplished. Trump got over Covid in 1 day, you will be fine. Come out of hiding and join the masses, no one cares anymore!

Once the business unite and quit pandering to this ridiculous craziness, normalcy will be back.

Klukkert, go eat a granola bar, take some penicillin, spray some Lysol and wrap yourself in plastic wrap, you are a strange cat.

Karry Howard

The Peter Popoff of the novel coronavirus.


of course what she did didn't help, and even she may have been infected although that is questionable. Her delivery would have been more effective if she had any notion of leadership or management or dealing with people. Her continuous condescending tone and drastic actions turned people against and she continues with her caustic tone. She only hope Biden wins and she is transported out of the mess she created. That's her plan.


The far right radicals don't seem to realize that by ignoring the simple courteous acts like masking and distancing they are prolonging the duration of the virus and the horrible effects upon the economy. By the way, wearing a 2 ounce mask is not equivalent to being imprisoned in a concentration camp.

Mike Johnson

Indeed, and even the head of the CDC, Dr. Redfield said: "I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine, because it may be 70%. And if I don't get an immune response, the vaccine is not going to protect me," Redfield said. "This face mask will." So who needs a vaccine. Soon MLG will reject the vaccine for face masks, and "follow the science".....[beam]

David Ford

As logical, realistic, and mind numbingly simple your observations are we have to remember that all these alt-right wing nuts have been convinced by their dear leader that being stupid is a badge of honor and "patriotic".

Actually pretty easy for him as an lifelong accomplished con man - all good con men always know their marks and know how to play them and they are truly being played and accepting it......It is part of his plan for the dumbing down of 'Merica so he won't feel so all alone....

Donato Velasco

she will be re elected for 4 more years, and everyone will be happy..

asil banese

I don't think so. If she somehow steals the election again there will be try riots

Chris Mechels

One would hope, in vain, the our little Governor person could at least get her messages straight, but that seems too much to ask. For instance;

New Mexicans who report symptoms of COVID-19 infection, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, and/or loss of taste or smell should call their health care provider or the NMDOH COVID-19 hotline immediately (1-855-600-3453); from Is Not consistent with the guidance at "All Together New Mexico". Her guidance on wearing masks, is not consistent with her earlier, and ongoing, guidance to wear "masks of face coverings". Her guidance, from Day One, has been riddled with such inconsistency, and this serves to create chaos, and lack of confidence in the state government, esp Michelle. She's like a bloody 7th grader, shouting different directives from day to day, and the shouting at us for no following those directives. SHE is the problem, but of course she can't admit that, to us our her self. She's a bloody incompetent. Let's hope she leaves for Washington DC, soon.

Nancy Murata

“little Governor person” ????? Seriously? What is your area of competence?

Chris Mechels

I'm a retired LANL Staff Member. What's YOUR area of competence. As for MLG, I've been interacting with her Dept of Health for some time recently, mostly in Rule Hearings, and find them blood incompetent. I also find it irritating, and confusing, and dangerous, that the guidelines from MLG and her DOH, are inconsistent and misleading, from page to page. No proof readers?? I frankly find her dangerous, for her constant edicts, which are inconsistent, and her "losers list" Cabinet including Kunkel and Scrase. I take it you are ignorant of all this, and support our little Governor??

Jim Klukkert

Chris Mechels- you mag think our Governor is 'like a bloody 7th grader,' but until you learn to write at that grade level, including formatting paragraphs [check out the 'return' key at the far right of the keyboard], your longer comments will be unintelligible.

Which perhaps is just as well.

Tom Ribe

Meanwhile Donald Trump is telling people that the virus is no problem, not to wear masks and to gather in huge crowds. Trump says the virus is a joke, doesn't really exist. He refuses to listen to experts on the topic. Donald got more than a million dollars worth of drugs pumped into him at Walter Reed. He is actively spreading the virus in Washington and wants to spread it to his base at his rallies. Don Trump is doing huge damage to our country. I urge everyone to vote for Biden so we can get this psychopath out of our lives fast!

Kate Carswell

People - stop gathering!

Lou Neiner

What the governor never mentions is deaths instead of positive tests. We have the third most restrictive regulations, particularly against businesses. Yet we have the fewest deaths by far of any state. According to the NM Center for Health Statistics this virus is the 8th leading cause of death in the state. The statistics do not justify the stringent restrictions.

Chris Mechels

Lou, while I rather like your direction, your numbers are all wrong. NM does NOT have the least deaths, or deaths per 100K, of any state. Check Vermont. Google it... In fact we don't even compare well with Colorado. Our POOR numbers are due to the tribal areas, and the nursing homes, where the Governor/DOH showed up late after ignoring the problem for months. Our nursing homes are still a problem because of DOH, which has always, and continues to, do a lousy job of oversight.

Lou Neiner

You are correct. I "Yahooed" for the stats as I really dislike Google and the list that came up only showed 29 states and didn't see the down arrow which showed the rest. There are sates with fewer deaths but does show CO at 2095 and NM at 899. I guess stats aren't what they used to be. I do stand by my statement that the virus is the 8th leading cause of death, well below heart and cancer according to a Dept. of the state. So still feel the current restrictions are out of proportion with the risk of death.

Leesa Vigil

Only cancer and heart disease aren't communicable. Nice try.


It is clear we are going to have to live with Covid until a vaccine is widely available. California, Arizona and Texas were spiking last month and now cases are in decline. You can't shut down the economy! We know much more about this virus than 6 months ago that it is irresponsible for anybody to talk about shutting down again. The scary aspect of this Halloween is we are are being controlled by a dictator who looks like Zozobra. Wear masks, be responsible and LIVE YOUR LIFE!

Joan Conrow

I think the comments give us a pretty good sense of why the virus is spiking again. Too many people think they know best, they're tired of it all, they want to downplay it as much as possible, they're deep in denial. Meanwhile, these haters promote the kind of divisiveness that leads to threats against MLG and others. MLG is saying the same things that the nation's top infectious disease experts are saying. Don't blame her. Blame the citizens who just refuse to take the steps to control this thing.

David Ford


Orlie Romero

It’s time for her to step down, these liberals have lost their way and chain of thought. At one time they were Democrats but it’s gone off into cuckoo land.

Everyone needs to just do what they do, schools need to open, teachers need to quit wanting to get paid for staying home, kids need to get back to a normal life and business needs to walk away from Government control.

The biggest concern and saddest is to see all the children trying to get back to normal and parents that won’t stand up to this stuff, start caring people, for Gods sake, if the President can walk around at 74 you will be fine just as we’re you entire life with flu,swine, colds, ITS OK!

Shawn Chafins


Mike Johnson

Indeed she should. She is incompetent and has made enemies of most all NM business owners with her arbitrary and capricious edicts.

Leesa Vigil

Cuckoo Land. Pot meet kettle.

Donato Velasco

she has to shut the state down or suffer the consequences , but hen its an election game democrats are playing.. the future will show how this game was played,

Robert Bartlett

Like all leftists, Grisham believed she could use the mantle of "science" to gain more political power. She now finds that many of those "experts" and "scientists" are more politically driven than she. And mostly, they have been wrong. Karma.

Daniel Valdez

"Follow the science" says the Dem party... As they try to convince the public there are 20 different genders. "California is burning due to climate change"...but fail to report that the fires we're intentionally set by an arsonist.

Daniel Valdez

Jim Klukkert,

Not only are you a condescending insecure arrogant Beta, but you are an ignorant one at that. If there are any fools's Jim Klukkert.

Jim Klukkert

One more thing, DANNY, to do research on Social or Environmental Issues, best not to rely on the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a mouth piece for Billionaires and their Corporations.'

Thanks again, Danny!

Amy Earle

The science doesn’t lie. NM is in a precarious place right now. Our positivity rates are way up as is our case count. What should the governor do throw her hands up and say oh well? Obviously something has to happen to get the situation under control. I’m not sure that closures are the answer because the doctor made it clear at the conference that it is personal behaviors driving the increase in cases. It is not possible to legislate irresponsible behaviors occurring in people’s backyards or decisions to run around all over town for no good reason or go back and forth between states. Clearly too many people are doing this sort of thing and we are paying the price with skyrocketing cases. Blaming the governor is absurd and stupid. Self examination on all our parts and a change in lackadaisical behavior is what will give us more normal lives and keep businesses open. It’s up to us.

David Ford

Thank you for your insightful post Amy, you got it right. Ignore these ignoramuses as they seem to take their marching orders from dr. drumpf.

You are 100% correct in that our own personal behaviors are responsible for the increasing numbers we are now seeing. It can be averted more so than we are currently experiencing by following the guidelines. The science deniers are doing their own ranks a disservice by encouraging each other to thin their herds by not following the basics of wearing a mask and distancing. Thank you BTW....

These same science deniers will be first in line should they get sick screeching for science based solutions to the problem they created on their own. As I have said before the deniers are true hypocrites as they text on their phones while driving in their cars to the pharmacy for that science based prescription...Truly pathetic

David Fitelson


asil banese

You're hilarious. I hope you seek help for your addiction to fear porn.

Pam Walker

Has anyone else had enough of this woman. The ups and downs of this virus seems to be spiking just when she wants it or needs it to. I am beginning to doubt everything she says. In the mean time she is ruining the state. These businesses are never going to be able to recover if she keeps it up. For a town that has the reputation of a top notch place to visit it is fast becoming a place with no guarantee it will even be open. Sad. I personally am sick to death of this woman and her antics. Honestly I think she could care less about us and is just using us to obtain a place in Biden's white house if he wins.

Red Eagle


Bonnie Cox


Comment deleted.
John Cook

Speaking of projecting. Dr. Johnson says "...rambling, empty threats and unscientific edicts."

David Fitelson


Lee DiFiore

She won't do anything between now and 11/3. Too much risk citizens will vote on her "leadership" (or lack thereof) and hurt her party at the polls. Watch out 11/4.

Welcome to the discussion.

Thank you for joining the conversation on Please familiarize yourself with the community guidelines. Avoid personal attacks: Lively, vigorous conversation is welcomed and encouraged, insults, name-calling and other personal attacks are not. No commercial peddling: Promotions of commercial goods and services are inappropriate to the purposes of this forum and can be removed. Respect copyrights: Post citations to sources appropriate to support your arguments, but refrain from posting entire copyrighted pieces. Be yourself: Accounts suspected of using fake identities can be removed from the forum.