Buffeted by a rising infection rate and sandwiched between two states where COVID-19 is out of control, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham framed New Mexico’s fight against the virus in stark, unmistakable terms Wednesday.

If state residents take precautions — and take COVID-19 more seriously — she said New Mexico businesses have a chance to revive and schools can reopen this fall.

If they don’t, the state’s early successes in blunting the disease could evaporate — and worse, New Mexico could go the way of Texas and Arizona, both awash in COVID-19 cases.

Lujan Grisham laid down the gauntlet during a sobering, almost grim Facebook Live news conference Wednesday, for the first time turning to enforcement in a bid to dampen the resurgence of the novel coronavirus.

As the state prepares for the Fourth of July weekend, out-of-state visitors will now be required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in New Mexico, and they could face penalties if they don’t. Police also will begin fining people for not wearing face coverings.

“Now we’re going to do enforcement and hold people accountable,” the governor said. “We have to protect the kids who need to go to school.”

Additionally, the governor will put her plans to further reopen the economy on hold for a longer period, until at least July 15.

The ratcheting of public health restrictions came as officials reported a further rise in COVID-19 cases and said residents continued to flout public health instructions. The new rules were also announced the same day New Mexico reached 500 COVID-19 deaths.

New Mexico’s disease transmission rate has surged to 1.2, which is above the state’s target of 1.05, Human Services Secretary David Scrase said. All areas of the state are seeing increases, including those that haven’t usually had high rates, such as southeast New Mexico.

And the state has seen a 27 percent increase in cases among children over the past week.

“This is a problem,” Scrase said. “We’re seeing this growth in the spread rate.”

The state is now failing three of the six goals, called “gating criteria,” that it uses to determine when it can roll back health restrictions. In addition to the higher transmission rate, it’s taking longer than expected for contact tracing officials to reach out to people who test positive and their contacts.

But New Mexicans aren’t helping the cause, Lujan Grisham said, emphasizing several times that many aren’t wearing masks or social distancing.

“Far too many New Mexicans became too lax,” she said. “I’m disappointed that too many New Mexicans didn’t take this seriously.”

As a result, she said, state officials are cracking down. Police will “aggressively” enforce mask-wearing, issuing $100 citations to those who don’t use them. Businesses whose employees don’t use them will be charged with a misdemeanor and also will be fined $100.

All out-of-state visitors will be required to complete the 14-day quarantine regardless of how they enter the state, and officials will be asking hotels to help them enforce the rule.

The governor acknowledged the new restrictions likely will have a negative impact on the tourism industry, a key part of New Mexico’s economy. They also will limit people from coming to the state for work reasons.

“I hope it doesn’t create any more significant damage to the lodging industry, but it’s a risk,” Lujan Grisham said. “I recognize what that does to tourism and what that does to an industry that’s reliant on folks, but I don’t see a productive way without a 14-day quarantine.”

The governor’s comments left any questions unanswered in the Santa Fe hotel industry Wednesday evening. Rik Blyth, general manager at La Fonda on the Plaza, said his hotel has been supportive of all the governor’s public health restrictions but was unclear how hotels would enforce the quarantine requirement.

“Is it up to the hotels to barricade the doors?” Blyth said. “Are you supposed to ask everyone if they flew in or drove in? I don’t know how the hotels are expected to be enforcers of that.”

Blyth said La Fonda would inform its guests of the requirement but did not plan to act as enforcement officer with guests.



“It would put every business in a very uncomfortable position,” he said.

Paul Margetson, Hotel Santa Fe’s managing partner, said the restriction could spell the end of much of the tourism industry in the state while it’s in effect.

“Nobody’s going to come because I believe the general tourist comes for two or three days, not 14,” he said. “That’s the end of any visitors coming from out of state, potentially.”

Sam Gerberding, general manager at the Inn of the Governors, said he hadn’t had a chance to review the new order.

“I’ve not had time to digest it and it’s a real morsel to digest,” he said.

Lujan Grisham acknowledged enforcing the quarantine for visitors will be challenging, given the state cannot track everyone’s movement and will not go as far as to erect blockades at its borders.

New Mexico originally had been scheduled to take more steps to reopen the economy Wednesday, but officials put those plans on hold last week. Those steps, which include raising the limit on mass gatherings and allowing additional openings of businesses, will be further delayed.

The governor also raised the specter of potentially bringing back some already lifted shutdown orders if the COVID-19 case numbers don’t improve. That would include reenacting restrictions on indoor dining services and gyms, and reimposing previous occupancy limits at retail stores and churches.

“If we don’t want to be in those situations,” the governor said, “we have to show that we’re reversing the trend.”

She called the next 14 days “critical.”

Lujan Grisham suggested schools — which were given a reopening plan last week — might not be able to open their doors in August if the disease data continues to worsen.

Officials said there are multiple factors causing the increase in cases, citing the partial economic reopening, increased travel across state lines, more mobility within the state, as well as residents and businesses failing to use precautions.

For the week of June 21, 9 percent of newly reported positive cases were New Mexico residents who had traveled out of state. Another 9 percent of new cases were visitors who came into New Mexico from outside its borders.

“These are concerning trends,” Lujan Grisham said. “We are going in the wrong direction.”

The governor cited the case of a Santa Fe Applebee’s restaurant, where employees were told to work their shifts even though they were experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. They later tested positive for the virus.

“These businesses will be held accountable, get shut down,” the governor said.

Lujan Grisham said she recognizes residents are experiencing “isolation fatigue” after so many months under public health orders, but she said New Mexicans will not be allowed to participate in parades and urged them not to host family gatherings over the holiday weekend.

The state Department of Health reported 130 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the total to 12,276. Three more deaths were reported and 127 people are currently hospitalized.

In a bit of positive news, the state continues to have plenty of intensive care units available. Officials aim to keep the number of occupied ICU beds below 460 and only 263 are currently being used.

Still, Lujan Grisham said the health care system could become overburdened if numbers keep increasing.

“When you look at the seven-day rolling average, these are all incredibly concerning,” she said. “If we don’t get it back under control … we put our health care system at great jeopardy.”

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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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(70) comments

John Onstad

Does anyone even know what the "mask regulation" says, or where it's published?

Alex Fine

This Governor is way out of bounds on this, maybe not on masks but certainly on the out of state travel quarantine order. This affects me personally, since I cannot visit my elderly parents who live out of state. In fact, thanks to this Governor, I may never see them dead or alive. MLG is making decisions based on numbers that are basically meaningless. First of all, cases do not equal deaths. Secondly, much of the apparent increase in cases is due to younger people in their 20's and 30's not social distancing or taking other reasonable precautions. However, rather than take her millennial voter base to task, MLG is making everyone suffer equally. This is morally reprehensible to say the least. This is in line with her progressive socialist ideology, which makes the responsible ones pay for the irresponsible. This Governor is especially irritating because she will not even follow her own rules. Unfortunately, the mainstream news media gave her a pass on this one. Obviously, the draconian measures of Democratic governors are largely politically motivated and designed to make the economy look as bad as possible for Trump on election day. One may find that the virus is miraculously cured if, heaven forbid, the Democrats win the White House on election day.

Alex Fine

This Governor is way out of bounds, maybe not on masks but certainly on the out of state travel quarantine requirement. This affects me personally in that I am unable to visit my family that lives out of state. We have a governor who is imposing draconian requirements based on numbers that do not mean anything. Rather than get tough on her millenial constituents, she is making everyone suffer needlessly. We never hear about how severe the new cases are and there is no danger that there will be a shortage of hospital beds. We have here a governor who is becoming more and more drunk on her obsession with power. I pray that Lujan Grisham will be a one term governor.

Donald Christy

Once again it amazes me how some of you use fictitious names to troll the New Mexican. Just so some of you know there are several ex-police officers who are afraid to use their real names. If you have any integrity (which apparently you don’t) you would stop being a child and use your real names. Next time I just might decide to let the rest of the public who you really are. Save face now and stop or use your real names. I’m not questioning whatever you post that’s your prerogative but just grow up

Kathleen Kautz

I think all these law enforcement officers who say that they will not be issuing citations to those who refuse to wear masks should be fired for defying the governor's orders. When an officer gives an order we're required to follow it or risk being arrested. There should be some consequence for the officers not complying with the governor's orders.

BOB SCHWARTZ

Kathleen Kautz, you learned several things. First , they don't care why you think and second, MLG does not think the US and NM constitution apply to her, and she can use the PHO indefinitely and tweak it as she wants to obtain a desired results and doesn't care how many people she tramples on, or make miserable, and makes hungry, and lose their jobs and house and life. So the police are the counterbalance of the checks and balance and even things out. I am sure MLG believe she waves her wand and people are mesmerized to obey. Will that's not the way it is. The officer in Podunk Jal, or Wagon Mound, or south Valley Albq that she has Cr@ped on with her order doesn't care, just like she doesn't care when she tramples the constitution.

Jim Klukkert

BOB SCHWARTZ- Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is acting lawfully under tbe powers granted to ALL Governors under the X Amendment of the US Constitution as well as Case Law, and to any New Mexico Governor by New Mexico State Statute.

If you need citations, let me know.

Otherwise, I hope you refrain from further comment on these pages. Your comment that the Governor 'tramples the constitution,' is ludicrous and false. Your ignorance is profound. Your disrespect of Law Enforcement personnel is contemptible.

Bad Call Bob, shame on you!

Alex Fine

You are so wrong. Although the Governor does have the power to issue public health orders under the state's police power, MLG's orders are often overly broad and arbitrary. The out of state travel quarantine rule is a good example. This applies to everyone, no matter what the infection rate is in a given state or the likelihood that an individual is infected. Moreover, her orders change according to the whim of the moment. Worst of all, MLG apparently thinks she has special privileges and does not obey her own orders (e.g., "Jewelry Gate"). This is true of the socialism (and I consider her a socialist) in general. George Orwell correctly observed in "Animal Farm" that under socialism, "We are all equal but some are more equal than others."

Donald Christy

Once again it amazes me how some of you use fictitious names to troll the New Mexican. Just so some of you know there are several ex-police officers who are afraid to use their real names. If you have any integrity (which apparently you don’t) you would stop being a child and use your real names. Next time I just might decide to let the rest of the public who you really are. Save face now and stop or use your real names. I’m not questioning whatever you post that’s your prerogative but just grow up

Barry Rabkin

Texas Governor finally takes the right action (mandating people wear masks state-wide): https://www.wsj.com/articles/coronavirus-latest-news-07-02-2020-11593675909?mod=hp_lead_pos2

Mike Johnson

And that will work about as well as in most of NM.......no enforcement possible, just words.

Mike Johnson

Just when you think the Guv can't get more irrational and unrealistic, she wants to force anyone coming into the state to quarantine for 2 weeks, and of course most come for a weekend. Not gonna happen, she does not have enough police to enforce this, no one does, not even if she uses the National Guard. This woman is off her meds.

BOB SCHWARTZ

Trouble is , when she practices this in her tiny mirror it sounds so wise and authoritarian and of course her staff ogles at her very presence and shakes their heads approvingly like she is Mary Queen of Scots, when in fact she will never be who she is trying to be

Jim Klukkert

BOB SCHWARTZ- Life and death issues, so you mock a woman for her physical stature. Good call for a man's behavior?

Not at all, Bad Call Bob!! Living down to your name once again!

David Martinez

Our neighborhood park has exercising stations, they are posted to keep people off of them. Some guy drove up to one of the stations, and started to stretch, no gloves or mask. I told him that the area is posted, he said he didn't care. He told me that he assumed that I'm one of those who wears gloves. I showed him the pair I had in the car.

David Martinez

I didn't mention, this guy had a Florida plate on his car.

Khal Spencer

Herding cats is never easy. The Plaza is on my route out of town when I ride my bike into the hills to the northeast and I see a lot more people and a lot fewer masks milling around downtown. I think two things are happening. One, battle fatigue is overcoming all of us. Two, younger people don’t take The Bug as seriously as we geezers because statistically, they don’t have the comorbidities and they don’t get as sick, so there is the “what, me worry?” syndrome.

I’m of two minds, as usual. I don’t want to get The Bug, don’t want to keep old folks locked down, but I don’t want to hammer down on all those other people at low risk of ending up in an ICU indefinitely. At some point, we need to have a real conversation again and look at other options to keep the transmission rate down rather than The Governor ruling by executive order indefinitely. I’m a little sick and tired of one person rule. Especially since both the governor and her health secretary are lawyers, not medical experts.

Some things that are low value need to stay locked down. Having a bar full of people drinking indoors and at close quarters is idiotic since they will go home and pass on The Bug to others. In places where we have no choice but to go (supermarkets, etc) keep the shopping density down.

The question to me is whether covid is the new normal and if so, we are in for a long haul and I can’t see the government ruling over us by executive order indefinitely without severe constitutional repercussions.

Rock, meet hard place. But this has to be a wider conversation than "do as you're told".

Kiki Martinez

Yes, it does come down to personal responsibility. Don't be selfish and not wear a mask. None of us like wearing the masks, but we do it to help keep everyone safe and get our state back to opening up safely. Yes, it will take time and the economy will suffer, but the economy can bounce back. When people die they cannot be brought back. Wear your masks please.

Jeff Clark

The economy and tourism will not thrive in the midst of a pandemic. Its not a choice of one or the other.

I'm glad to be living in a state with a governor who is willing to make hard choices.

Archer Hill

2nd that!

Robert Bartlett

4.8 million people went back to work in June. That's twice the population of New Mexico. That's people who will be able to pay the rent, take care of their families and deal with a range of existential family challenges. If your motivation is to inflict economic pain on America for political gain, shame on you. If your motivation is fear of the virus, just stay home yourself.

Paul Davis

What should I do is my motivation is fear of economic pain caused by 10k new cases every day for the next 3 months?

Archer Hill

It boggles the mind why people are still choosing to travel amid this pandemic! I would never put my family in danger when the writing is on the wall. What will it take to make people understand that this is not the summer to travel. Surely one summer at home will not hurt anyone. If everyone, STAYED HOME as suggested from the beginning, we would not be in the position of tightening the belt.....

Robert Bartlett

Grisham is tilting at windmills. The rest of the nation is going back to work and taking whatever precautions they can to keep themselves and their family safe and solvent.

Paul Davis

Are you following the news? 40 states have climbing rates of new cases AND test positive rates; states like NY which were looking in good shape after peaking at high levels (granted, mostly due to NYC) have now reversed plans for indoor dining; colleges are reversing previous decisions to welcome back students in the fall. One wonders what the response of so many Americans would be if this virus was much more fatal. "Just take whatever precautions you feel like and don't tank the economy!" Sigh.

Jim Klukkert

Robert Bartlett is telling lies again. Texas, Florida, Arizona and California headline the list of many states backing away from previous moves to open their economies. New York and New Jersey are moving back for fear of what is being seen across this country.

Bartlett, please stop repeatedly lying. It is a disservice to America.

Maybe you don't like America?

Julie Berman

Oh Bobby - seems like your windmill stopped working! Have you not followed what is happening because people have returned to work and many have become too lax to protect themselves.

Lee DiFiore

MLG and her crowd are punch drunk on the power they have seized in this pandemic and will not quickly or easily give it up. Citing problems in the neighboring states of TX and AZ as justification to continue a stranglehold on the NM economy, keep tens of thousands of people out of work and countless businesses closed or on life support, is irresponsible at best. New cases, hospitalizations and deaths in NM are not on a massive upswing or out of control as queen mlg would have you believe.

Maxwell Vertical

Truth

Paul Davis

> "New cases, hospitalizations and deaths in NM are not on a massive upswing or out of control "

Why do you think that might be? Why do you think that even neighboring states are seeing precisely that? What do you think the difference is?

Jim Klukkert

Lee DiFiore- Nature abhors a vacuum, and with the bubble head posing as President in DC, many of us are glad that Democratic Governors at least, certainly including Michele Lujan Grisham, are stepping up to the plate to lead us in our efforts to stem the Global Coronavirus Pandemic.

The only drunkard here is you, ranting in your rant that the Governor has ‘seized power.” Gov. Lujan Grisham has acted lawfully under the powers granted under the Constitution’s X Amendment, Case Law and New Mexico State Statute.

“Imagine!” I hear you exclaim. “The Governor actually looking at problems in neighboring states and across the nation. Shouldn’t she be engaged in the Trumpian Magical Thinking? Surely this will go away someday, just like a miracle.!”

A Milagro, indeed DiFore. Maybe someday, but until then, I am glad that our Governor deals in realities, rather than pipe dreams.

BOB SCHWARTZ

Can people who live in Corrales and work at Sandia Labs be allowed on personal business all day on their work computer. Hotels calling the tourism dept., yeah right, i am sure they would do that spying for MLG.

Barry Rabkin

Of course, hotels can ask if their guests flew in or drove in to Santa Fe or where-ever in the State they are staying. I've had both personal trips and business trips throughout the US and across the world. I don't remember a hotel that didn't ask me whether I needed to use their garage (and asked for the make and model and license plate of my car for security reasons) or ask if I would need a cab back to the local airport. Not rocket science.

But no, hotels can't lock people in their room. Hotels can, however, let the local Tourism department of the State (or Country) know if the guests are from out-of-town.

Jim Klukkert

Barry Rabkin, regarding quarantine violators: A complaint against someone who appears to be violating the quarantine can be made by calling the state's nonemergency COVID-19 line at 833-551-0518 or sending a complaint to covid.enforcement@state.nm.us.

Kathy Cota

I say shut local hotels down, period. Problem solved. On a better note, pretty sure all NM public schools will be open for business August 2020, albeit 2-3 days/week, despite how high infection rate is.

Maxwell Vertical

Yeah, let’s throw more people out of work unnecessarily. Great idea.

Khal Spencer

Sure, you can pay all the hotel help their paychecks, Connie. Break out your checkbook.

Jim Klukkert

Khal Spencer- You raise a serious issue, the economic hardship. I maintain that our collective physical and economic health in this national crisis is a matter of urgency not unlike national defense in time of war.

The Federal Government must step up to make the populace whole, with national health care and economic programs, not unlike FDR's New Deal response to the Great Depression, are in order. Now that the Republicans are proving the maxim, a stitch in time saves nine, we may be dealing with the Global Pandemic into 2022. Such a challenge will require quite an effort.

But of course Khal, that's just the thoughts of a Democratic Socialist who advocates for a rational, compassionate, mixed economy.

Thanks.

Amy Earle

Too many people became complacent or never took the situation seriously. Our neighboring states had no business opening up with reckless abandon and its hurt us too. We can turn this around in NM but it will require all of us cooperating. Wear a mask. Stay home other than essential errands if possible. Stop congregating in groups. None of this is fun for any of us but this is a public health crisis. If we want to have some semblance of a more normal life we all have to take personal responsibility and have a social conscience. It can be done. It must be done.

Kathy Cota

Unrealistic

Barry Rabkin

Unrealistic? Probably. Then more New Mexicans will get exposed, become infected, require hospitalization, bring our healthcare system to the brink of not having sufficient resources, and potential die.

What is realistic is that if these trends continue in the wrong direction, our Governor will lock-down the State again. And she will be 100% correct to do that.

Maxwell Vertical

Very well said. This all comes down to personal responsibility in the end. For the most part people in Santa Fe County have behaved very well.

Kim Swininoga

Cases are a meaningless data point.... all that matters is positive test rates, ventilator use, and deaths per 100,000. We test more, we find more. We open up hospitals to elective surgeries, we have more congested hospitals.

MLG’s comments on the hospitality industry sound a lot like “let them eat cake”.

Paul Davis

Positive test rates are up in almost all states. 2 days ago in AZ, the positive test rate was 28.6%! Between 1 in 4 and 1 in 3 people tested in AZ test positive for the virus. Ventilator use is not the key rate with respect to hospitals: mere hospitalization is the first metric to worry about there (available ventilators are important but secondary to simply being admitted).

Michael Marvier

I think they should close the New Mexico borders to all visitor's especially Texas.

BOB SCHWARTZ

To actually believe anyone would self quarantine for 14 days is ludicrous and there is no way to track that. even a hotel could not spy and say a person stayed in their room and many will drive and camp, so another orders that to MLG sheepdogs sounds good but has no enforceability. Also masks, people are wearing everything from N95 masks , to tshirts, to paper towels and many wearing none or halfway and stores don't confront to threats like i saw at Walmart one day. Even says on the sign to go in, exempted are those with health problems, so many say they have health issues and of course don't have to justify. Get a grip MLG, more good sounding stuff you sheepdogs follow but have no practicality.

Jim Klukkert

BOB SCHWARTZ- Just more nay saying from Bad Call Bob.

Khal Spencer

Bad Call Bob. I love it.

Not wearing a mask during this pandemic is a lot like driving drunk: you have no respect for the well being of others or for putting them at risk.

Small government means big individuals and if we are not big enough to look after others, well, big government will take care of that for us. Even the GOP run states are reconsidering their gleeful return to normalcy.

I'd love to see more buy-in on the small steps we can all take to minimize the spread of this virus: take your temperature regularly, don't congregate frivolously, wear a mask when in close quarters with people, etc. But when even mask wearing becomes an idiotic badge of whether one is left vs. right, its obviously too much to ask for people to use their good sense when partisanship and mistrust will do just fine.

Jim Klukkert

[cool]

Angel Ortiz

It's very simple. Be an adult and take responsibility. Follow the rules. Wear your mask. You are helping to protect others and keep this virus in check. New Mexico has done much better than our neighbors in Colorado, Texas and Arizona. BRW. Wearing a mask is not an infringement on your rights. Not wearing a mask is an infringement on the rights of everyone you encounter.

Kathy Cota

Unrealistic

Barry Rabkin

Angel, you are 100% correct.

Maxwell Vertical

Texas and Arizona made one miscalculation. They opened bars and assumed young adults would act responsibly. They didn’t and that’s why most of the uptick is people in their twenties. Close the bars, prohibit mass gatherings and we’ll return to trends in mid-June by mid-July.

Maxwell Vertical

Let’s consider border cities in NM that share economies with another city immediately across a state line - for example Bloomfield, NM and Aztec, CO. People commute across state lines daily to go to work. There are plenty more examples on the TX, OK and AZ border. How is this supposed to work in these communities?

Maxwell Vertical

Correction - Aztec/Bloomfield, NM and Durango, CO. Let’s add Clovis and Farwell. How about Raton and Trinidad? Chama and Pagosa Springs?

Kathy Cota

Overthinking this

Maxwell Vertical

Well, if you say I think too much, I’ll take that as a compliment.

Maxwell Vertical

For those bothering to pay attention, there were 161 hospitalizations two weeks ago and 127 today. That’s a drop of 21% despite cases going up!

New cases are going up because of increased testing. This latest order shows MLG doesn’t have a nuanced brain cell in her head.

Cris Moore

You're forgetting that there is roughly a two-week delay between new cases and hospitalizations.

Maxwell Vertical

Didn’t Mayor Webber say two days ago the increase in new cases was NOT from visitors, but from family clusters and local residents? So, how does MLG’s absurd new travel order two days before a holiday address that issue?

Kathy Cota

Mayor and MLG do not have a crystal ball, Max

Paul Davis

So do you conclude that the governors of other states that are also tightening restrictions (again, in some cases; for the first time in others) are also "without a nuanced brain cell in [their] heads", or do you just think NM is unique in some way?

Prince Michael Jauregui

14-day quarantine for out-of-state visitors?

Hasta la Next Summer, Santa Fe.

Kathy Cota

Actually, this is the most intelligent comment on this thread.

Khal Spencer

At some point, its the public's decision as well as the governor's. This is a tough one.

Kathy Cota

The 4th of July weekend will produce lots of unmasked activity. Because most folks are selfish.

Maxwell Vertical

Boy, Connie brought the dismissive snark today!

Maxwell Vertical

So, a family is currently driving to NM for the holiday weekend from TX, OK, etc to stay at a second home in Santa Fe. What’s supposed to happen? Are they stopped at a border check point? Do they turn around and leave the state? There were three new cases in Santa Fe County yesterday and three today. This is idiocy.

Archer Hill

If it means saving lives, YES!

Maxwell Vertical

There hasn’t been a COVID death in Santa Fe in months. Webber said two days ago, the uptick isn’t from visitors. It’s from local family clusters. MLG is hitting the nail with the wrong hammer.

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