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.