For several weeks, Santa Fe had become accustomed to — if not reassured by — the slow drip of COVID-19 cases in the area. One per day, two per day, none per day, one per day.

But when a steadier stream — three, five, four — grew to eight, 10 and six cases in just the past three days, officials sounded the alarm. For an area that had done very well in keeping the spigot tightened, even drawing praise from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham as an example for the rest of the state, June has not been a good month.

Santa Fe County’s 90 cases in June more than doubled the 42 it reported in May.

Though the rise in cases here coincides with a slow reopening of the economy and more visitors to the city, Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber said the area’s recent uptick does not appear to be driven by tourists. The spread, he said, is coming from residents.

“According to the data I’ve seen, the outbreak we are seeing right now is not tourism-related,” Webber said in his weekly Zoom news conference Monday. “It has been more or less isolated to some specific members of our community where the families have passed COVID to each other, and that’s been a spike very much localized to individuals.

“It’s too soon to say whether we’ll see a spike that comes from tourism,” the mayor said. “I know there’s been a great sensitivity to that and people are emailing me saying, ‘Why aren’t we enforcing the face mask requirements for tourists?’ And the answer is, ‘We are and will be,’ but so far the data don’t suggest that it’s the tourists who are behind the eight and 10 members. It’s isolated outbreaks in our own community.”

In the 36 new cases the county has seen in just over a week, 13 of 36 — more than a third — are under the age of 30, and nine are in their 40s.

According to Department of Health data of the new cases in Santa Fe County since June 22, 15 are female, and 21 are male.

Webber again beseeched people to wear masks while in public and to adhere to social-distancing mores that largely worked in the weeks after the COVID-19 crisis reached Santa Fe. While people here initially did an exceptional job staying home and wearing masks, Webber noted “the discipline required to stay safe and reopen at the same time … is starting to wane even as we are seeing cases rise.”

His message was not much different from the one Lujan Grisham delivered to the state last week.

The mayor said city officials have met with hotel managers to remind them to encourage guests — especially those from states that don’t require masks — to adopt Santa Fe’s mask-wearing habits.

“In the spirit of Santa Fe hospitality and respect,” the mayor said, police officers have been handing out masks and issuing “verbal warnings” to those seen out in public without masks.

In recent days, he said they’ve now begun issuing citations as well.

“I think it’s urgent to step up enforcement,” he said, “but I really believe in the power of constructive campaigning. … You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”



The mayor encouraged locals to remind visitors of the city’s mask ordinance — which carries a verbal warning on first offense and a $50 fine upon second and subsequent offenses — but only if they can do so politely and “with grace.”

If it seems like such advice is not well received, he said, residents should leave mask policing to the police.

State Department of Health epidemiologist Daniel Sosin said Monday the agency hasn’t tracked Santa Fe’s recent spike in cases to any one family picnic, graduation party or reopened business — instances that have helped create spikes in other cities around the country and in New Mexico.

The department said there was no significant clustering by addresses or employers, though there were a couple of apparent family clusters of two and three cases.

“It really can’t be attributed to any one event or family. What I have seen is many cases appearing in workplaces,” Sosin said.

“What we are seeing across the state is general increases in all parts of the state that have not before had high numbers of cases,” Sosin added. “It’s a result of all the factors you see as you drive around town,” he said, mentioning more people driving around town, in stores and out walking.

Sosin said the Health Department collects data that shows the ZIP codes where positive tests are trending and uses it to target more testing.

He said health officials know there is “community spread” between Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

Officials constantly warn the public to behave as if they have the virus, increase attention to hygiene, limit contacts, wear face masks and observe social distancing in public.

Asked to discuss Santa Fe County’s intensive care unit and ventilator capacity, Sosin said the state is “managing at current levels” and has contingency plans “if we were to lose control of this pandemic.”

Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center spokesman Arturo Delgado said in an email the hospital has “sufficient capacity for potential COVID-19 patients and … the capacity to expand if necessary.”

Delgado said the hospital recently saw a decrease in the number and severity of cases involving patients from the northwestern corner of the state, which has been hardest hit by the virus.

“We currently have sufficient ventilators, and we continue to work to acquire more for any increases we might experience,” he said.

(43) comments

Orlie Romero

People, cmon and use common sense. The mayor makes this statement off half truths, of course locals have covid more than tourists, why? Because he only has our local #s testing results, the guy is not the sharpest tool in the shed!

Ramon David

Where did the locals get the virus? Are there some local restaurants like Applebees where tourists might have passed it to them? In restaurants and bars they can talk without a mask and spread the virus if they have it while they are eating or drinking and be in proximity to the servers who can catch it, especially indoors, and spread it to their coworkers in the kitchen and take it home to their families as well. It seems the mayor thinks that if no tourists are diagnosed with the virus in New Mexico they cannot have it, but we all know now you can have it without showing symptoms and how many tourists have been tested in NM? It makes sense that people who come from areas where the virus is more prevalent could be unknowingly spreading it here.

Diego Mondragon

Mr. Mayor,

First - You must have some nerve to publicly blame local, natives of Santa Fe the way you did.

Secondly - I believe I can speak for many other locals when I say we would love to see where your "statistics" come from? After my ten hour shift today, I went ahead and took the Liberty my great country gave me to personally call your little article junk. I have 38 pictures of "your side of town". These will show that the "visitors" are not obiding to the Governor's call. 38 pictures of these people strolling in groups to stores, the Plaza, restaurants with no masks. Additionally, I have photos of "our side of town". I went to Allsups for a chimichanga, I went to PC's, I went to the Family Dollar -(if you don't know what it is - it's a place people on a budget shop. For example, all the City of Santa Fe employees that have been loyal for fifteen years and got furloughed, unlike you and your six figure higher up buddies).. Point being I saw EVERY single person wearing a mask and abiding.

Lastly - It is very easy to point the finger from your million dollar home up in the Canyon Road hills, but frankly my friend, you are a visitor yourself. My late and great voice of Santa Fe, Aunt - Gloria Mendoza is probably rolling over in her grave knowing what is happening in her town. I think before you publicly ridicule the locals, you should take a drive beyond the East part of town and see for yourself.

Donato Velasco

Yes mayor with your expertise and opinions tourist do not bring the virus cause it’s all ready here in the low income areas of Santa Fe and since the virus targets lower ethnic groups you all white privileged people In the north East part of Santa Fe are safe from the virus ,, so just stay away from the hoods,,

Kathy Fish

Webber, you're just digging a deeper hole here. Quit blaming us when downtown and the grocery stores are clotted with gaggles of Texans, Arizonans, Californians, New Yorkers, and more. Instead of putting the blame on your supporters, why not present a clearer messages to would-be visitors: Please Don't Come. I voted for Kate Noble and I sure wish she was at the helm now.

Di Martin

Because all Webber is thinking about is the revenue the tourist are bringing in. That's what it amounts to, is the money!

Archer Hill

This!

Mark Stahl

Seems like a lot of finger pointing at tourists, anarchists, looters and rioters (I don’t remember any riots here in Santa Fe), the mayor and governor, without any evidence. And some people who relentlessly criticized the governor, a tyrant if I remember correctly, for placing restrictions early on now criticize her and the mayor for not cracking down on our local peaceful protests. Slowing the spread asks for a few simple steps- diligent hygiene, social distancing and wearing masks where appropriate, indoors and among crowds.

Judith Senda

Well duh, Mark. She’s been rightly criticized for overstepping her authority by locking everything down for so long in the first instance, and rightly criticized for giving protestors free reign to gather in the second. There’s nothing inconsistent between those two positions.

The virus doesn’t distinguish between political affiliations, but politicians do.

Mike Johnson

Well said Ms. Senda, the virus will not discriminate even if you claim you will stop "systemic racism", whatever that is.

Mark Stahl

Should she not have used the governor’s emergency powers to shut the state down to protect public health and just allowed the virus to spread freely or should she have doubled down on her tyranny and called out the national guard to suppress the protests?

Judith Senda

Thank you, Dr. Johnson.

Mr. Stahl, do you truly live in a world of extremes? And are you agreeing the Governor’s actions then amounted to tyranny?

The initial shut down was (supposedly) to “flatten the curve,” as it was phrased. It was to ease the shock to our hospitals and health care system. But it morphed into ongoing control, and *that* is where she exceeded her authority. We cannot, we will not, live in a perpetual state of emergency. Further, we’re not talking about suppression of protests, but suppression of criminal acts, vandalism, destruction of public property.

Please grow up and understand the world isn’t purely black and white, but a multitude of shades of gray.

Mike Johnson

I am criticizing the tiny tyrant for her hypocrisy and double standards wrt her politically favored anarchists vs. the businesses and citizens who are trying to make a living. The violent and sometimes peaceful anarchists can gather by the thousands for weeks, ignore her own public health orders, and be thanked by her personally in her press releases thusly:“I want to wholeheartedly commend the thousands of New Mexicans who peacefully protested in Albuquerque last night. Freedom of speech is an undeniable right of every American and every New Mexican, and in moments of crisis, in expressing anger at long-standing injustice and racism, that right is all the more important. These protesters were part of an exemplary demonstration." Except of course that was not peaceful at all, nor any that followed over the weeks these kind of people were spreading the virus. Meanwhile, the balloon fiesta, state and county fairs, race tracks, car clubs, etc. were bullied and threatened with excessive fines if they tried to have outdoor gatherings above a few people. That is hypocrisy of the highest order by her and Webber, who encouraging the same things in SF. They will have blood on their hands as these young anarchists who are infected, infect the older ones who will die.

BOB SCHWARTZ

MLG must now realize that her VP life preserver is gone and she is faced to wallow in the muck she created and figure out what to do. HAHA figure out what to do MLG

Mandi Ravan

Well she is vastly more capable to do so than you are.

Mandi Ravan

Sorry, 'Doctor ' who seems to understand nothing about epidemics, you are wholly wrong.

Not only is there no evidence to tie outdoor protests to increases in the virus, there is formal scientific analysis showing the protests have NOT increased viral spread.

Our governor, tho I was not originally a fan, hasmade far better decisions than most governors in the country, so wear a mask, and would all of you clueless people realize that unless we handle this better, as if we were RESPONSIBLE ADULTS, this pandemic is at its beginning.

Donato Velasco

His getting his yearly China trip all scheduled, who is going with him for a goodwill ambassadors to bring tourists

Tom Ribe

New Mexico should put up checkpoints on the highways coming to our state from Texas. We should turn Texas tourists away. We don't want them here this year. Period. Unwelcome.

BOB SCHWARTZ

AND STOP PEOPLE FROM CALIFORNIA MOVING HERE ALSO WITH THEIR RETIREMENTS AND OPINIONS

Di Martin

Umm! That's what the local homegrown people of SF said decades ago but here they all are, over-running our beautiful unique city, changing it and over populating Santa Fe in every nook and cranny they can find! It will never be like it was before, ruined a long time ago! So sad!

Mike Johnson

Exactly, the entire state should be walled off and no outsiders from anywhere allowed. Station the police at all border highway crossings, airports, train stations and bus terminals. Visitors from anywhere not welcome.

Kathy Fish

I've got to assume that you're joking here: "Exactly, the entire state should be walled off" #trumpmuch

Chris Mechels

I'm no fan of King Webber, but it seems that his efforts of Covid are much better, and more well considered, that the Governor's. Webber's order issued on 6 April had an immediate, and positive effect here in Santa Fe, which I saw at our grocery stores. Sadly, those actions have fallen to disuse, with seeming total reliance on masks. That is a bad direction, as masks are a PART of the fight, and can't replace the other parts, hand washing and distancing.

Webber's move on 6 April was undercut by the Governor immediately, when she imposed, in seeming response to Webber, a limit on occupancy, but without the other measures. She failed to pick up on those measures, which restricted them to SFe, and also undermined their effect IN Sfe. The Governor, with her confused, uncertain, directions and exhortations is creating problems in Sfe and across the state. An example is allowing "face coverings" to substitute for masks, with no enforcement. All bad.... She really should stop playing at Secr of Health, a job she was fired from in 2007, and appoint someone with REAL credentials to manage the Covid efforts. She's far too much a micro-manager, and this has always been an issue with her, and caused problems.

Girish Ganesan

“It really can’t be attributed to any one event or family. What I have seen is many cases appearing in workplaces,” Sosin said.

So the cases can be traced to some common sources? After all, many people spend 8 - 10 hours a day, five days a week, at work.

Chris Armijo

Great Job Mayor, protect the tourists and demonize the Local Santa Feans, by allowing your Tourist Czar Randy Randall to pursue expanding sidewalk cafes to attract tourists and mirror other tourist cities is unconscionable while closing off city streets to our Locals is typical of your agenda of creating a Santa Fe for the privileged to visit here and bring their cash laden wallets and purses, one has to ask, what else are they brininging?

Judith Senda

This is what happens when we elect an outsider as mayor — he gives preference to outsiders before locals. We’re just annoying riff raff to be tolerated (or maybe not even that).

Where did the two-week self-quarantine go? The Air BnB down the street from me is busy as ever with visitors from Arizona, Texas, and New York just in the past month. Their cars come and go, so you know they’re out among the local population, and not isolating themselves.

Donato Velasco

Now his an expert like all others who want to protect the cash cow tourism,, better lock up the locals and have tourist and protesting continue cause they do not get the virus herd immunity on them

Comment deleted.
BOB SCHWARTZ

How could he possibly know where it came from. More Webber BS, maybe it was the curse of DeVargas sprinkled with the incompetence of MLG and gross negligence of Webber

Stefanie Beninato

It seems that the DOH is contradicting Webber that it came from one family. According to DOH, it is work place spread. It could be the sheriff at the first judicial court house who wears his mask below his nose or the woman who works as a clerk in that court house who walks among her coworkers without a mask--going down hallways and into common use rooms like the copying room or maybe it is the employee who feels the need to pull the mask down to talk or take a cell phone call.

Amy Earle

No state is an island unto itself and NM is sandwiched between TX and AZ. I can’t believe that at least some of our statewide spikes aren’t due to back and forth travel. The same can be said of people going back and forth between Abq and SF. Add in opening up indoor dining and more businesses. The most important thing is we get our numbers back down. I’m grateful that we haven’t reopened bars and that we’ve taken a conservative approach to reopening. Our neighbor states were irresponsible by flinging the doors wide open and are now paying the price. On the upside mask compliance seems good overall in SF. I can only speak from my own observations but in most businesses I’ve visited 99% of customers are in masks. Some stores could do a better job with insisting the employee actually wear the mask not have it draped around their necks. That I have seen. I think if we pull together we can avoid the fate our neighbors are facing but it’s going to take being vigilant and finding ways to live with the virus while still managing to have some semblance of a normal life. It’s a tough balancing act but I see no other choice.

BOB SCHWARTZ

Hawaii is a state island unto itself but i agree, there is no possible way he could know the origins. If he is this smart, why cant he fix the city, mainly the PD.

BOB SCHWARTZ

i would say all the rioters and looters are responsible. Why don't you pass another ordinance this time with stronger language "We really really really mean it this time, wear your mask"

Mike Johnson

Interesting how the subject of the protestors spreading it didn't even come up by the Mayor, or this timid, cowardly reporter.

Mandi Ravan

Because you should read all the ither news in which this gas been analyzed. For those of you not in the field, there ARE ways to analyze the data which can pinpoint sources, including whether it is local or nonlocal communication.

However, mayor Webber- things are different now. Please limit visitors from texas and AZ, and ENFORCE MASK WEARING.

NOW.

Dan Frazier

It would be nice to know what kinds of workplaces have been involved in the latest outbreaks. Interesting that this article does not mention spiking case numbers in nearby states including Texas and Arizona. When it is already taking police three hours to respond to matters deemed non-urgent like the vandalized Indian restaurant due to a severe shortage of officers, you have to wonder how much time they can really spare for mask-enforcement. Meanwhile, how helpful masks of low quality really are, especially among asymptomatic people outdoors remains the subject of much debate with little in the way of good science to back up the discussion. I'm no fan of Trump, but I would also point out that it has now been a week since Trump's mostly maskless Tulsa rally and I have yet to hear anything about an outbreak that can be traced to the rally.

Richard Reinders

The public doesn't want police involvement in anything, send a councilor to tell someone to put their mask on.

Ted Nugent

*Yawn*

Felicia R Trujillo

Pojoaque Pueblo has their borders closed yet has started to have loud outdoor parties again at La Mesita Ranch. This is so irresponsible. Their guests incubate the virus around the pool and then go out into our community and spread it. These aren't locals.

Mike Johnson

Exactly, and these are drunken parties too, stay off 503 and 285/84 after they let these kind of people out on the roads!

Di Martin

Since people want to defund the law enforcement, do you really think it's on their list of priorities to hand out citations? It's an ordinance, not a law. Just like jay-walking is an ordinance. So how many times do you see police writing citations for jay-walking? Especially when all the tourists are walking right in front of cars in the plaza, seriously! My friend & I ate a Frito Pie in the Plaza with our masks off, of course, then are expected to put our masks back on! What's the point after having it off for almost an hour eating!

Mandi Ravan

Wow, that you asked your last question clarifies that you are completely ignorant.

Even abad mask cuts transmission by 50%, the more you wear it the lower your chances of getting it, and definitely reduces the chance of passing it on.

You may be ok with being a typhoid mary, but how about not being a selfish jerk and deciding to wear amask which protects others?

Otherwise, own your selfish douche behavior.

Mandi Ravan

A week is too short. Look in 2-3weeks, the usual time symptoms increase enough to make ppl seek medical help.

Orlie Romero

Wearing a mask while outdoors is like taking a shower in sewer water.

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