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New Mexico

Las Cruces Walmart store closed due to virus outbreak is allowed by state to reopen

UPDATE# 2: The New Mexico Environment Department has now clarified that a Las Cruces Walmart store which had a coronavirus outbreak has been allowed to reopen Sunday after the store was disinfected and the company brought in workers from other locations to staff it.

Walmart's corporate office said it was testing all employees who worked at the Rinconada store after being told to do so by state order. The company said Sunday that those workers were at their homes and would be paid for any scheduled shifts until test results clear them to return to work.

Earlier Sunday, a social media post from New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham caused confusion when it said that Walmart was defying the state closure order.

The governor's spokesperson indicated the post, while made on Sunday, was actually referring to events from Saturday. Here's what the governor's Sunday post said...

“Stores disregarding Covid-safe practices place their entire community and our state at risk. Workers and customers MUST be safe. The New Mexico Environment Department posted a notice of imminent danger at the Rinconada Walmart in Las Cruces after four employees tested positive for Covid-19 and the company refused to cooperate by shutting down the store, disinfecting and testing all employees. The state has zero tolerance for unsafe practices. We will continue to act quickly and ensure consequences for those who fail their responsibility.”

The governor's office has since updated the post to add the word "yesterday" to it.

Separately, a spokesperson for the New Mexico Environment Department clarified that the store was approved to reopen Sunday, but she added that the situation remained an ongoing investigation.

NMED's Maggie Hayden indicated in a statement Sunday that Walmart had failed to show it was complying with state health and safety guidelines, which prompted Saturday's state action.

"Employers are required to demonstrate compliance with worker protection regulations. When employers are unable to provide timely and/or accurate information – as occurred in this instance – NMED will act based on the absence of such information."

Hayden noted Sunday that NMED was still awaiting documentation from Walmart to show the Las Cruces store’s "conformance to these policies."

UPDATE #1: An ABC-7 photographer observed the troubled Walmart on Rinconada Boulevard in Las Cruces had reopened Sunday morning, despite being ordered closed by the New Mexico Environment Department just a day prior due to a virus outbreak.

Walmart personnel said the store had been sanitized and disinfected overnight, which was among the requirements laid down by state regulators.

It was not immediately clear if the NMED had approved the reopening; there was no immediate response to requests for comment from state officials.

ORIGINAL REPORT: LAS CRUCES, New Mexico -- Hours after the state of New Mexico on Saturday ordered an east Las Cruces Walmart to close immediately due a virus outbreak that it said posed a public danger, the store finally shut its doors.

Four employees at the Walmart on Rinconada Boulevard tested positive for Covid-19 over the past three weeks, according to a statement issued by the the New Mexico Environment Department.

The NMED issued a notice Saturday morning ordering the store's "immediate closure" due to "imminent and substantial endangerment to employees and the public."

However, an ABC-7 crew on scene about 4:30 p.m. observed that the parking lot was still packed with hundreds of customers - and a manager declined to comment as to why the store was open.

Walmart's corporate headquarters later said the store had closed as of Saturday evening, but did not offer an explanation as to why it had remained open for much of the day in what appeared to be a violation of the state mandate.

NMED spokeswoman Maddy Hayden said part of the reason for concern is because "Walmart stated they do not require employees who test positive to self-quarantine for 14 days, nor do they notify individuals who came into close personal contact with such employees to get tested."

Walmart maintained some of the state's claims were inaccurate, but in a copy of their policy provided to ABC-7, it indicated an employee who tests positive could return to work in as a few as ten days absent fever or other symptoms.

Over 400 employees work at the infected store and state officials said they had ordered Walmart to test all of them. In addition, the state has directed the retail giant to "thoroughly" disinfect the building. There was no immediate word as to when the store might be allowed to reopen.

Walmart said late Saturday it was hiring outside cleaning specialists to disinfect the store in accordance with the state's directive.

Hayden urged customers who may have shopped at that store since June 22 to get tested for the virus. She said testing hours and information were available online at cvprovider.nmhealth.org/directory.html.

New Mexico officials also said workers of other employers can report complaints about workplace health and safety violations by e-mailing complaints.OSHA@state.nm.us or calling 505-476-8700.

Biz/Tech / Coronavirus / Coronavirus Video / Health / News / Top Stories / Video

Kate Bieri

Kate Bieri is ABC-7’s New Mexico Mobile Newsroom reporter and co-anchors ABC-7’s weekend evening newscasts.

Jim Parker

Jim Parker is the Director of Digital Content for ABC-7.

Comments

92 Comments

    1. What? No we opened too soon rant and blaming the Governor. But you’ll praise that feckless NM Governor for a doing a great job instead of arguing she should have shut down or more closely monitored all the Walmarts. Now crawl back to your basement. Your buddy creepy Joe Biden is waiting for you.

      1. Fero2a the only toilet paper you need is to wipe uour mommas ass. Based on your posts, head to the cemetery. Nothing nice to assholes like you.

        1. It’s Alberto the psycho. Good to see I am in your big fat head even at 2:00 am in the morning. Can’t sleep? Insomnia much? Too much meth? You will be there way before me. My mother lived to be 93 y.o. Now pluck that hoarded toilet paper out of your disgusting fat rear end.

  1. Hmmmm looks like Wal-Mart is making some sort of legal stance, this will be interesting cause you know they can out lawyer the state of NM. Why shut the walmart down I mean shouldn’t those people just stay home, is the state saying the spread was at walmart? I am pretty sure there are more than 4 people working at any business that are c19 positive but haven’t been tested. I am pretty sure someone inside walmart blew the whistle, the employees there are notorious for not wanting to work. Won’t this just funnel more people into the other walmarts?

    1. No they closed. I just hope Walmart’s lack of attention to these testing and quarantine protocols doesn’t end up getting our Walmarts closed.

    2. Walmart has plenty of lawyers but altogether they have no influence over a state health department during a public health emergency. Courts will always defer to the health officials.

        1. This came of of AOC’s twitter page before she deleted it. “It is vital that Governors maintain restrictions on businesses until after the November elections because economic recovery will help Trump be re-elected. A few business closures or job losses is a small price to pay to be free from his presidency.” This was posted by her at 1:09 PM, 20 May 2020.

  2. I thought you had to quarantine if you had a positive, walmart doesn’t have to tell you to stay home. Why would walmart have to test the employees if you can get tested for free in NM?

      1. No the person who got tested has the responsibility to self quarantine, right? This is 4 employees over the last 3 weeks, why now? I am no champion for walmart but telling them they have to test all 400 employees? Sounds off.

      2. This came of of AOC’s twitter page before she deleted it. “It is vital that Governors maintain restrictions on businesses until after the November elections because economic recovery will help Trump be re-elected. A few business closures or job losses is a small price to pay to be free from his presidency.” This was posted by her at 1:09 PM, 20 May 2020. The left is scum!

    1. He looked out at his audience and saw that even his ignorant uneducated followers were wearing them. I guess that shocked his stupid ass into wearing one.

      1. Hey markturner you do know only crazy people talk to themselves? Every time that moron fero2amadmikegeedubb rants you follow and post. You have some serious mental problems.

      2. You are pitiful. It was not a Trump rally moron. His audience was military hospital patients that he visited. He visited Walter Reed Army Medical Center. So he decided to wear one. Nonetheless great photo op for him. But leftist heads are exploding now since he wore a mask. There is no pleasing leftists.

          1. “He looked out at his audience and saw that even his ignorant uneducated followers were wearing them.” You that daft? Audience? So patients in a hospital ICU are an audience? But you thought he was at a Trump rally. Nitwit!

      1. Love it when El Feo talks Baby Talk. Boogers, Lugis. So funny! Ga ga googoo. Poopoo, peepe. I know, just give me you usual. Alberto, basement, sec 8, ridgemar. You are all played out dude. Just retire, not just here in El Chuco, please!

        1. Your gig’s been up. We all know you are Alberto the psycho. You are just too embarrassed to admit it. You know your sad life really sucks. BTW – I see you know where you live. At section 8 Ridgemar in a basement. Those keywords are in your mentally diseased head forever. I roped your dope. I win, you lose. LMAO.

  3. They got lots of lawyers and I knew they wouldn’t follow the illegal orders put forth by the governor. Gonna be interesting but I’m sure gov Karen is fuming and ready to send in her private militarized police force. I hope more and more businesses defy her orders, especially after the investigation into her comes back with criminal charges.

    1. Walmart didn’t defy her orders. They are now in complete compliance with the heath department’s instructions. They completely disenfected the store as ordered. Why would you encourage businesses to defy orders meant to keep the public safe? Are you just an idiot?

      1. I must have read the headline wrong. …..Wal-Mart defy’s gov order….hmmmm weird. I encourage it cause they are illegal and wrong. I’m glad its a company like Wal-Mart who isn’t gonna close and have lawyers working round the clock to poke holes and expose the illegal aspects that she never had the power to do. She’s already facing several lawsuits and she’s not gonna be able to bully Wal-Mart. She’d better check the small print cause if she’s over stepped just a hair she’s gonna get the wrath.

        1. Lujan-Grisham is doing a much better job than her counterparts in TX, AZ, and FL. State Governors have absolute authority to issue any order they deem necessary to aid and enforce health rules during a public health emergency. Health departments acting under said orders from a State Governor have the same absolute authority.

  4. Wait. What? Trump thinking about giving Dreamers citizenship? Hold on! White House adviser and Far Right, KKK anti immigrant Stephen Miller almost choked on his beer when he heard that, and got on Trump’s face about it. A jellyfish has more spine than woos Trump who backtracked right away. Trump too dumb to think on his own and follow through with anything regarding common sense. What do you expect from a president who surrounded himself with racist bigots, and self serving crooked politicians.

  5. After Covid19 is under control two years from now, all the Covid19 deniers will either be pushing up daisies or at home with a nurse changing their diapers. All the rest of us will be watching the ball game downtown and then go out for a nice dinner. Covid19 deniers or belittlers just keep doing what you like. Those of us with common sense will be here to teach how it’s done when the next pandemic comes along.

    1. I must have read the headline wrong. …..Wal-Mart defy’s gov order….hmmmm weird. I encourage it cause they are illegal and wrong. I’m glad its a company like Wal-Mart who isn’t gonna close and have lawyers working round the clock to poke holes and expose the illegal aspects that she never had the power to do. She’s already facing several lawsuits and she’s not gonna be able to bully Wal-Mart. She’d better check the small print cause if she’s over stepped just a hair she’s gonna get the wrath.

      1. Her orders have all been completely legal and well within her authority as Governor. The only time she didn’t follow the law was over the amount of fine that could be charged for the human filth caught not wearing masks. That was quickly corrected.

    2. you’re funny. you’re idol Dr. Ocarranza said a few days ago the majority of people are recovering faster than before, but I’m sure you’ll just ignore that part.

  6. Why do the masks work in just one direction? Supposedly they keep the viruses from going out from the mouth — but don’t work to keep them from coming in. If they are uni-directional, just turn them around, wear them inside out if you’re vulnerable.

  7. you’re funny. you’re idol Dr. Ocarranza said a few days ago the majority of people are recovering faster than before, but I’m sure you’ll just ignore that part.

      1. No they don’t. I was in Cloudcroft a few weeks ago and a lot of people weren’t wearing mask so we were asking the stores clerks about it. Their response? She’s not our Governor. You are so full of crap.

      2. Nah a bunch of Cruces doesn’t agree with any of her orders especially the restaurant owners who sued her. There is a progressive bunch pretending to support the governor but they all take their masks off and mingle once the cameras are off, seen it myself. There is a large part of the progressives in Las Cruces who are starting to oppose her although it’s not outright yet, it’s all hush cause they try and appeal to Santa Fe but really they aren’t digging her.

        1. Her approval rating is 62% to 26%. That 26% is mostly the uneducated white trash that live in the southeastern part of the state. They probably don’t wear masks, believe in evolution, the big bang or climate change. They think the virus is a hoax and they attend the Baptist church and regularly engage in incest. They also support the orange buffoon.

          1. Dang. Your hatred runs deep. Did someone run over your dog when you were a kid or sonething? You really do need to get some mental help.

          2. Aren’t you white trash that lives in Texas? I see you’re doing Alberto’s hillbilly act and rant. You are an idiot.

          3. Markturner with fake news again. Back in January her poll ratings was 44 percent of New Mexico voters support the job Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is doing, while 39 percent disapprove. 17% undecided or don’t give a crap about her. Now that was before the COVID-19 pandemic. I seriously doubt her ratings went up the last 6 months. Regardless her supporters are idiots just like you.

  8. Why can’t other businesses follow the same protocols as walmart and stay open? People hang out in walmart just as long as a restaurant and they walk around without masks. Wuhan Grisham lost a lot of support when she allowed asylum seekers refuge in Cruces and provided no assistance and then went on to say they would not accept asylum seekers in Santa Fe, oh the irony. You should know by now those polls are garbage

  9. although they won’t be outright violating Karen’s order restaurants in NM are staging a protest if you will Monday at 2 all across the state. Yeah she’s got great approval ratings

  10. The bitch TRUMP SUCCUMBS TO WEARING A MASK! Lol. Mfer will take a big BLM don&$r to try and win the election! Lol. Like his followers and their Dautr’s. Ouch. Wear that bitch! Kneel! Apologize! Get to the back of the line. It’s OUR country now!

    1. Alberto psycho ranting. Regardless of whether he wears a face mask or not you’d still hate him. TDS much? LMAO. BTW – What ever happened to the BLM movement? 15 minutes of fame over? Hijacked by leftist white libtards? Your country is Venezuela. The U.S. belongs to real American patriots not communists like you.

      1. Nope its now blue. The orange buffoon is the best tool the Democrats have going into November. 384 electoral votes and growing. Thank you orange buffoon. Biden is talking about returning some campaign contributions!

  11. Madmike is a local PIG. Even though he is far off on identification along with the Liar gee dubb, probably the dame white local maggot. White cops on El Paso? Watch out!

  12. Fero2madmikegeedub always gets in Fero2a’s mind. Keep up the good work dude! Imagine how pissed he’ll be when Trump loses and you call him out? I can!

    1. Look! It’s that crazy guy talking to himself and patting himself on the back. I recall he called you out when crooked Hillary lost back in 2016. You never moved to Canada either. Too chicken to bet on who would win. BTW – Biden will lose.

      1. Hush up or I’ll call Feromikegeedub to pick on you too! Biden knocks out Trump in the First Round ! And Trump goes down! And Trump goes down! We have a new World Champion in slepy Joe who was awake the whole time. This is Howard Cosell for ABC news, good night.

  13. There was no contest you moron. Walmart violated state health regulations and they were legally ordered closed until the store came into compliance. They complied and were then allowed to re-open. The Governor wasn’t even aware of it until it was over.

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