SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and state health and education officials on Thursday provided a public update on the state’s COVID-19 response and recovery efforts, outlining a new emergency public health order and New Mexico’s preparation for a limited re-entry to in-person learning next month.
New Mexico’s gating criteria – a measurement of the public health data reflecting the incidence and spread of COVID-19 – show the state has seen success in suppressing the virus while also maintaining essential virus-response and health care resources over the course of the late summer. Although the overall COVID-19 infections in the 20-29 and 30-39 age groups remain higher than other age ranges, the state’s decreasing and steadying test positivity rate, average case counts and hospitalizations reflect increased adherence to important COVID-safe behaviors like consistent mask-wearing and avoiding groups and extended periods of contact with others, said Human Services Secretary David Scrase, M.D.
The secretary again issued words of caution about the devastating potential health effects of the virus and the imperative to maintain safe behavior. “COVID-19 can cause very, very serious illness in people of all ages, and we’ve got to take that seriously in all aspects of our lives,” Scrase said.
PUBLIC HEALTH ORDER
Pursuant to the state’s sustained progress on suppressing the spread of the virus in recent weeks, New Mexico will permit certain relaxations of occupancy restrictions while maintaining the essential public health framework for mitigating and responding to the incidence and spread of COVID-19.
The state’s revised emergency public health order is effective Saturday, Aug. 29 and incorporates the following adjustments:
- Houses of worship may operate at 40 percent of maximum occupancy of any enclosed building, an increase from 25 percent, in accordance with COVID-Safe Practices. Houses of worship may, as before, conduct services outdoors or provide services through audiovisual means.
- Food and drink establishments (including restaurants, breweries, wineries, distillers, cafes, coffee shops or other similar establishments) may provide indoor dining service at 25 percent of maximum occupancy, in accordance with COVID-Safe Practices.
- Food and drink establishments may continue to provide physically-distant outdoor dining options, carryout and delivery services, in accordance with COVID-Safe Practices. Tables – inside or outside – must be spaced at least six feet apart, and no more than six patrons are permitted at a single table.
- While museums with interactive and/or immersive displays, categorized as “close-contact recreational facilities,” must remain closed, museums with static displays may operate at 25 percent capacity.
- Mass gatherings of more than 10 individuals are prohibited.
The order is effective through Sept. 18.
“New Mexicans ought to be very proud of the progress we’ve made all together, but we’ve got to remember progress in our fight against this virus does not mean we can let our guard down,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “A sense of complacency will once again elevate the dire potential health risks for New Mexico families, neighbors and communities. We will continue to do everything we can as a state to mitigate the spread of the virus and address the awful economic consequences of this pandemic.
“The virus is looking for opportunities to spread. We must continue to do everything we can to mitigate and eliminate those opportunities. We know the path to continued success by now: Wearing masks, avoiding groups, keeping physical distance and regularly washing our hands. At the end of the day, I can’t make New Mexicans stick to these safeguards. We’ve all got to make those decisions ourselves every day – and remember that our actions impact our friends, our families, workers and businesses in our communities and our entire state. More and more of us have been making those right decisions. Let’s keep it up.”