On the same day Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced a $100 civil penalty could be imposed on people who do not wear face masks in public, updated modeling from the University of Washington showed requirements for face coverings could save hundreds of lives.

The new modeling projects that without universal mask-wearing, the state could be on pace to reach nearly 800 deaths due to COVID-19 by October 1. The university’s researchers project the same number of deaths if the state continues to ease its pandemic-related business restrictions.

The number would be a 62 percent increase over the current number of deaths in the state, which reached 500 Wednesday.

“We invited risk,” Lujan Grisham said in a news conference Wednesday, speaking of public health orders in the past month that have allowed more business operations to reopen. “We asked New Mexicans and others to help us … and that does not appear to be occurring.”

Businesses are now required to ensure customers wear masks. Those that don’t could face a fine.

In addition, the governor announced, a mandatory 14-day quarantine for out-of-state visitors will be in effect.

For months, New Mexico has bucked COVID-19 trends in states where case numbers have soared.

But as cases surge anew in Arizona, California and Texas following a more rapid reopening process, New Mexico is beginning to see a startling increase as well, health officials said.

The governor acknowledged the rising number of positive test results in New Mexico has been due in part to allowing all retailers to reopen, as well as indoor dining at restaurants and other services.

If the upward trend continues, Lujan Grisham said, she will consider rolling back the reopening of the state’s economy.

The University of Washington modeling shows the number of daily deaths in New Mexico has declined overall since it reached a peak May 12. That is expected to change as the state continues to see an increase in case numbers, although there will be fewer daily deaths with more widespread use of masks, according to the modeling.

The modeling also shows the demand for intensive care beds in the state’s hospitals may be higher than the number of beds available. However, the state is projected to have enough ventilators to meet the need.

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(10) comments

Lee DiFiore

These projections are no better than any of the other guesstimates that have been made since the start of the pandemic. All proved erroneous. And don't forget, those early projections were used by mlg to justify the crippling of the NM economy, throwing 130,000 New Mexicans out of work and shutting down the non-covid health care system in the state.

M. T. Lee

Masks or for sheep! https://twitter.com/brentterhune/status/1276990350859677700

Larry Archibald

The easiest way to understand the efficacy of masks is to look at the countries that have been successful controlling the virus -- their citizenry all wear masks. People in Asia are used to wearing masks, and they work.

Is it that hard to comprehend?

David Ford

I went to high school in Japan 1968-1970 and when we first arrived I saw people with masks for the sole purpose of protecting their fellow citizens from the cold, flue etc that they had contracted. Yes it works even for those adamant on "protectin' their rights" and not being "sheep". What utter nonsense

Amy Earle

The governor is not responsible for the irresponsible actions of NM citizens or the foolish opening choices of our neighboring states. We have a great deal of testing. We opened responsibly. We followed science and data. Our problem is too many people have not taken the situation seriously. That has to change and change now. No most people do not have an N95 mask but decent cloth covering and surgical masks are widely available. The state is even providing them for those who ask. I’ve never seen anyone wearing tissue paper. I have seen plenty of responsible people wearing masks of some kind. We all must wear a mask. It’s up to us whether we take the actions we must to turn this thing around.

Kathy Cota

@ Amy: intelligent comment, finally. I was getting worried that all posters lack a brain.

Chris Mechels

It seems they use whichever model serves their current need, as they were using their own modeling, as they claimed New Mexico was special. That model produced number much higher than the Washington modeling, so it seemed a poor choice, not supported by experience. Now that they wish to rely on masks, which we were told NOT to wear for two months, they turn to support to the Washington model. And they call this "science", choosing a model to support their politics???

And how can you model the effect of wearing masks, when the Governor allows masks or face coverings?? Tissue paper is quite different from a N-95... but does she know that?? Needed, some Dept of Health guidance on masks, and the effectiveness of various options. THAT would be a service, more than just more exhortations and threats. I do wonder how you could prosecute someone for not wearing a tissue paper mask, which is allowed under current guidance.

Also, they need to us IR temperature scanners widely, as Asia and Europe do; make it mandatory, not a Best Practice, which is just a suggestion. The Governor has created a complete muddle in this matter, and should defer to someone who actually knows what they are doing, with credentials, unlike her.

Kathy Cota

@ Chris Mechels: Blah, blah blah. You don't know any more than the experts. If it was as simple as you say, COVID.19 would be gonzo.

David Ford

same guy with the same old whine, cut and paste and save time....


SPOT ON AGAIN CHRIS, she turns her dialogue to the outcome she desires, totally abuses the PHO order to her needs. That's the way she has always been. Trying so hard, grossly unqualified, biased.

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