SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Tuesday defended her response to the coronavirus pandemic amid calls by Republican lawmakers who want her to remove enforced business restrictions.
The first-term Democratic governor says demands for an immediate, full-scale reopening of the economy are reckless, ignore effective health precautions and will only serve to inflame misinformed public opinion and risk further illness and likely death.
Lujan Grisham recently eased an emergency health order, allowing many businesses to reopen at a fraction of capacity to avoid crowding and transmission of COVID-19.
Tougher restrictions remain in place for dine-in restaurant service, gyms and hair salons, while face covering are required for everyone in public places with exceptions for outdoor exercise and eating.
Lujan Grisham says she has outlined a plan to move even those high-risk businesses back into operation in the near future based on progress in limiting transmission of the coronavirus.
Republican lawmakers including state Senate minority leader Stuart Ingle of Portales say recent state health orders and unrelenting state budget shortfalls are having a disastrous effect on the economy.
Separately, an advisory council to the governor on Tuesday issued a list of safe practices tailored to a variety of businesses, youth recreational programs and houses of worship. Suggestions include the installation of vapor shields at cash registers and entrance-way screenings for fever as a symptom of COVID-19 infection.
Due to the restrictions, school officials around the state have been forced to re-envision high school graduation season.
Albuquerque’s public school district, the largest in the state, is planning virtual ceremonies in late June because of the pandemic, In southern New Mexico, Las Cruces schools are gearing up for high school senior drive-thru celebratory parades Thursday and Friday.
Albuquerque school officials said Tuesday they had held out hope that conditions would improve to make it safe for some form of traditional graduation gathering.
However, according to a school district statement, “the world is not there yet.”
New Mexico has nearly 6,200 coronavirus cases and 276 deaths.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.