LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - In response to the surging virus cases throughout the Borderland, the Las Cruces City Council could soon add a fine to the city's mask requirement.
"What type of enforcement power do we have?" asked Councilman Gabe Vasquez. "How aggressive can we be?"
"When we're having these numbers, this is the time we increase enforcement," said Ifo Pili, the Las Cruces City Manager.
Las Cruces hospitals have not yet reached capacity, but El Paso hospitals have, as leaders discussed in the meeting.
"We're getting very close to tipping the scales passed the point of no return, passed the point of dire emergency," said Councilwoman Tessa Abeyta-Stuve.
On Thursday, El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego issued a two-week lockdown of non-essential businesses, which was later challenged by the Texas Attorney General.
"I'm watching El Paso take a pretty serious stand," said Councilwoman Johana Bencomo. "As I'm watching them step up, I'm wondering what we're doing."
Councilors unanimously voted to extend the mayor's emergency proclamation, which closed all indoor recreation centers for one week (except the Las Cruces Regional Aquatic Center) as ABC-7 reported on Tuesday.
City staffers are also enforcing requirements that everyone at city parks as well as the Las Cruces Farmers and Crafts Market are wearing masks. The city council council could soon consider adding a fine to the city's mask requirement.
"I will say that if we do start citing everybody that we see without masks, it's going to be a daunting task for our entire force," said Interim Police Chief Miguel Dominguez. "It's like speeding for example... if we are not in the area, they speed."
"I haven't sped since the last time I got a $250 ticket!" Councilwoman Bencomo chuckled in the meeting.