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Beginning Monday, New Mexico under shelter-in-place order for two weeks due to unsustainable virus spread, threat of hospital system collapse

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The State of New Mexico will be returning to its most heightened level of restrictions beginning Monday.

— New Mexicans are instructed to shelter in place, staying home for only the most essential outings, such as for food and water, emergency medical care, to obtain a flu shot, or to obtain a test for COVID-19.

— All non-essential businesses and nonprofits must cease in-person activities. Essential businesses may operate if they reduce operations and in-person workforce to the greatest degree possible. A full list of businesses considered essential is available at cv.nmhealth.org.

— Essential retail spaces may operate at 25% capacity or 75 customers in a store at one time, whichever number is smaller. These essential retail spaces must close by 10 p.m. nightly and may reopen at 4 a.m.

— From Nov. 16-30, houses of worship may operate at 25% maximum occupancy or 75 persons at any one time, whichever number is smaller.

— Food and drink establishments may operate with curbside pick-up or delivery only.

— Gatherings of members of multiple households are one of the primary reasons for the current level of spread. These gatherings are prohibited, and New Mexicans are urged to do their part to put communities in a place where business activities can resume, students can return to school, etc., by doing what is necessary to stop the current dramatic spread.

The state saw in the past that dramatically limited activity and travel for a period of two weeks was able to effectively blunt the spread of the virus.

After Nov. 30, the state will implement a three-tiered, county-by-county system to establish reopening benchmarks. Green counties will have low positivity and average daily case counts to allow for expanded in-person activities. Yellow will have borderline positivity rates and case counts and will require some restrictions. Red will have widespread infections and will require appropriate restrictions on in-person activity.

This will permit counties the flexibility to engage in increased activities based on their success in curbing the currently unsustainable spread of the virus and preventing a collapse of the state’s health care system.

Businesses face a civil administrative penalty of up to $5,000 a day for each violation of the Public Health Emergency Response Act, the state law authorizing the secretary of health to issue emergency public health orders.

New Mexico’s rolling seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases is 1,012, nearly 10 times greater than the state’s target for a safe “reopening” process. The total COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state have risen at least 214 percent over the most recent four weeks. The state has recorded 182 COVID-19 deaths over the past two weeks, a record over the course of the pandemic, and a 143 percent increase over the prior two-week period.

According to the state Department of Health, 17 percent of New Mexicans who have been hospitalized for COVID-19 have died, or almost one in five. There are at least 471 individuals hospitalized for COVID-19 in the state as of Thursday, Nov. 12; the number may be higher pending patient test results and state reporting.

The state Department of Health reminds New Mexicans of the following:

  • If you feel sick, do not leave your home. If you feel any symptoms of COVID-19, seek out a COVID-19 test. Testing sites and hours are available at cv.nmhealth.org and togethernm.org.
  • Please be patient after receiving your COVID-19 test. As cases rise, so does demand for testing. After you receive your COVID-19 test, monitor yourself for symptoms. If you are having symptoms or tested because of an exposure, you should assume that you are infectious and self-isolate even if your symptoms resolve. You can spread the virus without knowing you are positive and without having symptoms.
  • If you test positive for COVID-19, do not leave your home to do errands or to see friends. If you are infected with COVID-19, you must not leave your home unless you are seeking out emergency medical care.
  • If you need emergency medical care, call 9-1-1, not the Department of Health information hotline.


Residents are reminded that the methods for achieving those desired results include always properly wearing a mask when in public spaces, practicing social distancing, washing hands frequently, and now, for the next two weeks, staying home except for absolutely essential outings. A commitment to one another’s health and safety is the only way to reverse the state’s recent dangerous trends.

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