ALBUQUERQUE – Health officials said Tuesday that the number of COVID-19 cases and the rate of transmission are on the rise in New Mexico, leaving the state trailing when it comes to two of its most important metrics.
Human Services Secretary David Scrase acknowledged during an online briefing Tuesday that if things don’t change, the state will see the curve continue to rise. He said he would rather see New Mexicans following the health order already in place rather than the state imposing more mandates to limit spread.
“I would prefer not to continue on this roller coaster,” he said. “I’d prefer to allow folks to respond – to stay at home, to wear those masks, keep those distances, stick within the public health guidelines. I think everything we need to do right now could be accomplished if 100% of us followed the public health guidelines.”
The public health order mandates face masks and social distancing, limits indoor dining and the size of gatherings and calls for people to stay home whenever possible.
An additional 178 cases were reported Tuesday, pushing the total to more than 29,150 since the pandemic began. Another two deaths were reported, putting that overall count at 875 statewide.
Scrase pointed to a nationwide effort that tracks the progress of states meeting various benchmarks, saying New Mexico has now slipped behind neighboring Arizona and is considered to be trending poorly. The map shows Arizona’s COVID-19 rate is decreasing after having skyrocketed earlier this summer.
Texas still is considered to have uncontrolled spread, and New Mexico health officials said those counties bordering that state continue to have some of the highest rates in New Mexico because of interstate commerce and employment in those areas.