SANTA FE: Wednesday, Governor Lujan Grisham called her New Mexico COVID-19-fighting group a “damn effective team” in her press conference. After laying out what Governor Lujan Grisham declared as her instructive order and directive, she ordered closure of all “non-essential” businesses and limited group “gatherings” to no more than five people.
The entire directive in a text format can be read here. The order also includes a partial list of “essential” businesses which (surprise!) do not include businesses like gun stores. Video clips of the press conference can be seen below.
In regard to gatherings, Grisham set limits on groups of people who can be outside of their home together, declaring that she bans gatherings of more than five people. Grisham issued the directive declaring that even families can’t step off their property or out of their home together, whether it is a trip to the park or pickup groceries if there are more than five in a group. Grisham’s focus was not to highlight better health precautions or ensure everyone in a community was healthy or safe, but instead made the high point of her press conference making sure businesses and the public do not work or spend time together in groups larger than five.
Governor Grisham makes it clear that her directive means a stay-at-home dad or mom can’t leave their home with five kids under 12 (because young kids can’t legally be left home alone) to buy groceries or go to a doctor’s appointment. Believe it or not, these families exist, but apparently Governor Grisham thinks these “violators” should be reported and should be forced to have their spouse take a day off work or hire a babysitter (a person outside their household) to attend an appointment or buy groceries, let alone have an adult walk down the street to a park or walk their dog and have five children along. I know several families that have young children and fit this criteria and in some cases they’re disadvantaged and already struggling with health and financial restraints. Interestingly, Grisham said this applied to employers in call centers (though obviously not Walmart), but didn’t say whether it applied to day care centers where state-mandated ratios will range from one adult to four children to one to ten for infant through pre-k.
By the end of her monologue, Grisham did not address how to find needed services or testing if individuals need it, but instead reiterated the importance of calling in business and citizen violators of a five-person group ban. The statement was further underscored when she expanded on it further in responding to a question from the press, where she declared that law enforcement on regular patrol might just bust up a gathering or family of more than five if they ran into one, and that there could be civil and criminal penalties.
For the level of seriousness Grisham claims to be putting on the virus, the press conference was filled with very little information on the data of how COVID-19 is spreading or what progress and success, if any, her previous orders have made. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t until questioned by the media that she finally stated that only 9 out of the 85 New Mexico COVID-19 positive cases have been hospitalized and that 4 out of those 9 have already been released from the hospital (we believe this release number does not include the couple in Socorro County). Why hasn’t this data been highlighted? Is it somehow irrelevant that there’s hope and New Mexico may not be in terrible shape?
Yesterday we questioned reporters on why they had not reported data and Albuquerque Journal reporter Dan Boyd responded stating, “state officials will start releasing information on recoveries in the coming days. We’ll plan to publish that information as soon as it’s available.” We’ve received information from Socorro County stating that their two COVID-19 cases were released from quarantine as long ago as last Thursday, March 19. Why the data on recovery has not been highlighted, along with other recovery data, is disappointing. It could do a lot to dispel fear and give New Mexicans hope in a time of despondency.
Furthermore, while there was one or two chiding comments asking people to, “not hoard,” Governor Grisham did little to dispel fear or inspire confidence by reassuring reporters and New Mexicans watching via livestream that they have food security. There was also no declaration that the economic struggles New Mexicans will face will be worth it with encouraging or inspiring words. After the press conference, New Mexicans will probably continue to wonder whether all grocery services will continue to be available throughout the fight against COVID-19. This lack of leadership cannot bode well for New Mexicans.
“Report Your Neighbor” already being used? The New Mexico Political Journal alleged yesterday evening that an auto dealership in Santa Fe has already been reported, received a visit from the New Mexico State Police, and had a citation issued for having too many people (presumably employees, we hope?) on the property’s location. This “violation” may have been called in by a customer, passerby or even competitor (aha! One way to stop competition?). And while a five-person ban might be enforced at an auto dealership, what about Walmart? We suppose Walmart, as a large corporation with big buck backers will get a free pass on the five-person ban?
Update: Grisham also offered no concrete information on whether schools are closed for the rest of the year, whether high school seniors will graduate or any other reassurances that families and educators will receive more than a day’s notice when these changes or announcements will be made.