Gov. Lujan Grisham, D-N.M., is slamming the door shut on businesses.
The state is taking extreme measures in combating the rise of the coronavirus.
Under a new edict, even grocery stories must shutter their doors if there are too many positive COVID-19 cases associated with the business.
Grisham’s announcement on Thursday allows the New Mexico Department of Health to shut down any workplace for two weeks if they have four or more coronavirus cases in a 14-day period.
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Critics have questioned the mandate.
Karen Townsend of Townhall writes that the number of four positive cases is simply “arbitrary.”
Pundits also noted New Mexico’s struggle with “food insecurity” pre-pandemic, and how imposing restrictions on what’s perhaps the most essential business of all is leading to long lines, making it harder for residents to efficiently buy food.
More than 20 essential businesses across the state were shut down as of Friday, of which nearly half were grocery stores or major retailers. The closures include two Walmarts in Albuquerque, a Walmart in Santa Fe, a Target in Santa Fe, and an Albertson’s in Roswell, KOAT-TV reported.
“You can’t have a grocery store or another big box store that sells groceries if all of the employees or the vast majority of them have COVID. You can’t open up,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said. “And that’s the issue. … There’s so much of this infection that it’s inside the very places people need to access.”
Roswell Mayor Dennis Kintigh said closures create long lines of waiting customers outside remaining stories, which must operate at reduced capacity. “It’s a pain to put it mildly,” Kintigh told The Albuquerque Journal.
New Mexico Department of Health spokeswoman Marisa Maez said the state has discretion when considering which businesses to close, and considers whether a store provides essential goods or not. She said the current closures are not considered critical because they are in communities with “considerable alternatives.”
In another development, the state’s coronavirus dashboard on Saturday reported 2,342 additional COVID-19 cases and 25 more deaths, increasing the state’s totals to 79,440 cases and 1,350 deaths.
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COVID-19-related hospitalizations in New Mexico increased to 825, up from 808 on Friday, increasing the state’s total to 6,072.
The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
The Associated Press contributed to this article