SANTA FE, New Mexico — A string of record-breaking Covid-19 daily case counts prompted New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Tuesday to announce more restrictions as officials crack down on "hotspot" businesses that may be virus spreading sites.
Starting Friday, restaurants, breweries, retail stores, gyms and other businesses will be required to close for two weeks if they have more than four separate incidents of Covid-19 among employees within a 14-day period. Those businesses that have had at least two outbreaks will be publicly listed on a new state watch list.
Restaurants that want to continue offering limited 25%-capacity indoor dining must also complete specific training and certification, as well as agree to spot testing of employees and keep a log of customers for contact-tracing purposes. Retail stores must now close by 10 p.m. just like restaurants, and state-operated museums and historical sites will be closed until further notice.
Lujan Grisham said the restrictions are not meant to punish businesses but rather curb what has become one of the highest rates of spread in the U.S.
She maintained action is needed "to break the chain of escalating statewide infections and prevent the virus from overwhelming state hospitals without enacting wholesale business closings."
State officials noted they were particularly concerned about a significant increase in hospital admissions. Hospitalizations across the state stood at 205 on Tuesday, rising nearly 90% over the last two weeks.
New Mexico on Tuesday also reported an additional 599 cases and another seven deaths. Officials said the counties containing Albuquerque and Las Cruces accounted for almost half of the state's new infections: 154 in Bernalillo County and 136 in Doña Ana County.
It brought the total to nearly 37,900 New Mexicans infected since the pandemic began, with just over 4,900 of those cases occurring in in Doña Ana County. New Mexico has also recorded 942 deaths to date.
Despite already having some of the strictest rules in the U.S., Lujan Grisham's administration has been struggling in recent weeks with a surge in cases and increases in transmission and positivity rates.
“If Covid-19 continues to exponentially spread, New Mexico will not have the health care and hospital capacity for every New Mexican who needs care,” the governor warned on Tuesday during a briefing that you can watch in its entirety in the video player below.