Amid COVID-19 spikes, New Mexico governor tells residents: ‘please don’t go to El Paso’

New Mexico

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico (KTSM) — El Paso County, Texas and Dona Ana County, New Mexico share a common border. And it usually takes residents of Las Cruces – New Mexico’s second-largest city – less than 40 minutes on Interstate 10 to get to El Paso, which is sixth in population in Texas.

With El Paso going though its worst COVID-19 crisis since the pandemic began and her own state reeling, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Thursday made an urgent plea to the residents of her state: “Please do not go to El Paso.”

The statement came a day prior to new restrictions going into effect in the Land of Enchantment. One restriction will require New Mexico residents to quarantine for 14 days after traveling to high-risk states, such as Texas.

In addition, all establishments that serve alcohol will have to close by 10 p.m.

“We are seeing that these establishments — people are staying far too long and engaging in activity that is not safe in a COVID world,” Lujan Grisham said.

Also going into effect on Friday, New Mexico hotels will have their occupancy reduced, in addition to gatherings being limited to five people or less.

The governor called the New Mexico virus number “shocking,” saying if it continues, there will be more restrictions.

“If we don’t get it right, I have to restrict high-risk activities — that’s the only other tool I have in my toolbox,” she said. “It will save lives and it will prevent us from overwhelming our hospital and health care system.”

Some New Mexico residents, though, have different feelings about the new restrictions.

“I’m just so torn. Sometimes I think yes because I feel for the families that have been affected by it,” said Las Crucen Madine Mahres. “But you know, just from day to day, I just have different feelings on it.”

Others said it’s necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“I think with the short-term rise and extreme rise in our state and many others, I think it’s probably best to just try and keep things camped down and I know it’s a sacrifice to many,” said Les Williamson, a Las Cruces resident.

On Thursday, New Mexico reported 672 new cases across the state with 89 of those being in Dona Ana County, making it the second-highest number of cases reported in the county. The highest amount of cases, at 108, was reported on Wednesday.

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