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New Mexico virus cases grow to 21 as actor’s infection is tied to state visit

Actor Idris Elba
Getty via CNN
Actor Idris Elba.

SANTA FE, New Mexico -- Four more people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in New Mexico, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 21, according to the New Mexico Department of Health.

The latest cases announced Monday were:

  • A 20-year-old man in Bernalillo County
  • Two 30-year-old women in Bernalillo County
  • An 80-year-old man in Bernalillo County

The breakdown of the confirmed cases by county is Bernalillo 14, Santa Fe 3, Sandoval 2, and Socorro 2. Officials said more than 1,270 of people have been tested in the state so far.

Meantime, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham urged the Trump administration to help the state expand testing capacity for the new coronavirus as a positive test result by recently visiting British film star Idris Elba spurred a business closure.

Elba’s announcement on social media that he had tested positive and gone into isolation triggered the self-suspension of business at a popular musical instrument supply store, The Candyman Strings & Things in Santa Fe, where the actor last week had shopped and posed briefly with staff for pictures. Elba was scheduled to participate in the production in New Mexico of a western-themed movie.

The governor also moved Monday to harden social-distancing recommendations and requirements by restricting restaurant service to 50% of seating capacity with a 6-foot buffer between tables and no service at bar fronts. More than 100 state buildings including a world renowned museum system were closed off to the public as state workers make the transition to working from home.

Lujan Grisham was among the governors who participated Monday in a teleconference with President Donald Trump. Lujan Grisham spokesman Tripp Stelnicki said that New Mexico health officials have been seeking federal help to secure additional testing equipment and crucial processing chemicals, and that states are being compelled to compete for supplies without prioritization from the federal government.

State health officials say they received assurances of change in a follow-up call with the vice president’s office.

“There is an inability on the feds’ part right now to create a statewide system where we’re all working together,” Stelnicki said. “It should not be states competing against other states.”

Health officials on Monday reiterated their calls for residents to either limit their contact with other people or stay home, calling social distancing the best strategy for reducing risk. State parks were closed and state prisons and county jails shut off contact visits with inmates as many businesses limited their hours.

The governor issued five executive orders, authorizing more than $3 million of additional funding for emergency response and disaster relief efforts related to the public health emergency she declared last week. Officials said the funding will be used to assist in humanitarian relief, public health measures and to help families and children affected by the school closures.

Article Topic Follows: New Mexico

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