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The governor gave hope for reopening some services on June 1.

[Editor's Note: The details of what the governor and cabinet secretaries set out at the news conference can be seen in the slideshow of the presentation attached.]

By Mary Alice Murphy

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, at her regular Covid-19 news conference, although she gave no updated public health orders, did say that if the trend continues throughout the state, some retail businesses, such as salons, gyms and dine-in restaurants, may be able to open on June 1 in most parts of the state.

The northwest sector of the state, although beginning to flatten the curve, continues to have more cases that even the Albuquerque metro area. However, recent outbreaks in southeast New Mexico and in Doña Ana County in the southwest region of the state have occurred due to increased travel into Texas, which is more open than New Mexico.

She cautioned people to continue to stay at home and to continue wearing masks when in public places. Social distancing and washing hands continue to be critical in maintaining the downward trend of infections.

Department of Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel said the state has completed some and will continue testing of staff members in long-term care facilities, minority communities, essential workers and in tribal areas. "We put a significant emphasis on corrections facilities. We have completed testing in 100 percent of state corrections facilities staff members and some inmates. We have moved into the municipalities and counties and have completed testing 100 percent of county facilities staff and about 25 percent of inmates.

"We look forward to a more strategic surveillance plan," Kunkel continued. "I would like to recognize the Medical Reserve Corps, made up of medical volunteers, who help us extend our preparedness for emergency. We have deployed 170 around the state."

Department of Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase presented the modeling update. He noted the highest rate of spread is in McKinley County at about 2.7 percent.

"We set the gating target at 1.15," Scrase said. "The average across the state is now 1.2, so we are below our target. Science and data are what we base our decisions on. We've seen strong correlations between travel and outbreaks. Our spread rate is on target. Our contact tracing is being automated, and our testing delivery system is on target. We are not ready to fully open. I compare it to jumping out of an airplane with a parachute on. As you near the ground, you wouldn't want to take your parachute off."

He said the White House several weeks ago said they wanted to see 14 days of decline before re-opening. "No state has met that, including New Mexico. We realize that if we stage the reopening, we can prevent overwhelm of the health care system. We want to do it slowly enough so that data follows our reopening. I think we are on track to reopening dine-in restaurants, salons, gyms, malls and some other services on a limited basis on June 1."

The rest of the conference was dedicated to answering questions from news outlets.

One questioner asked about the upcoming special session to address budget shortfalls.

Grisham said the session will begin June 18. "I expect it to be done over that weekend if we have a productive session to make sure the state stays in the black. We have healthy reserves and federal stimulus funding that put us in a good position."

To another question, she said the state needs to continuously work on its preparedness for emergencies, such as a pandemic. "The 2015 plan was too old and irrelevant. We have folks working on updating the plans. We have to know that the federal government is ready to help us with supplies."

Kunkel noted that the plan was updated last year," but nobody was prepared for what Covid brought to the world. We need to redo it again."

Scrase said the crisis standards of care were updated in 2018. "We need a continuing update."

Live from Silver City

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