County clerks ask NM Supreme Court to allow primarily mail-in election

County clerks petitioned the state Supreme Court for an emergency order that would allow the state to move to a primarily mail-in election for the June 2 primary. The clerks, and Secretary of State, say that conditions under the COVID-19 restrictions make it “impossible to lawfully administer” this year’s primary elections. The petition, signed by 27 of the state’s 33 clerks, including five Republicans, said running a regular election would force clerks to decide between following the Election Code or protecting “the health and safety of their community, their voters, their staffs, and themselves.”

To do so, the petition asks for each county clerk to be able to send voters ballots by mail, along with a pre-paid envelope to respond. Voters would still be eligible for replacement of provisional ballots. It would also provide for alternative locations for those who require in-person assistance, such as those with disabilities or those who require language interpretation assistance.

DOH: Two more deaths related to COVID-19; 44 new positive cases

The New Mexico Department of Health announced on Monday that two more people who tested positive for COVID-19 died in New Mexico, both in Bernalillo County. 

The state says both cases were females, one in her 90s and one in her 70s. Both died on Monday. The state says both had been hospitalized and had underlying medical conditions. That means that four people have died in New Mexico with cases related to COVID-19. The start also announced another 44 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of positive cases in the state to 281.

Metro Detention Center says an inmate tested positive for COVID-19

Bernalillo County announced Monday that an inmate at the Metropolitan Detention Center tested positive for COVID-19. The county said MDC learned of the positive test on Sunday and the patient is now isolated and receiving treatment from the detention center’s medical team. Four MDC staff are now self-isolating after coming into contact with the inmate. The detention center says inmates are being monitored, but none are currently exhibiting symptoms.

According to the release, the inmate was booked on Thursday, March 26 and did not exhibit any symptoms of COVID-19, which are a fever, coughing and shortness of breath. The jail learned two days after the inmate arrived that the inmate’s mother was hospitalized and tested positive for COVID-19; the inmate had been caring for his mother.

State reports 55 new coronavirus cases; 191 total so far

The state of New Mexico announced 55 new positive COVID-19 tests on Friday, by far the largest number in a single day. The new numbers from the state’s Department of Health bring the total to 191 total positive tests in the state since the first three cases were announced on March 11. Update (3/28): DOH: One new COVID-19 death, 17 new positive COVID-19 tests. State total at 208

The new cases included the first in Roosevelt County in eastern New Mexico and Valencia County, south of Albuquerque. 

“This is the largest jump in cases yet,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said on Twitter Friday. “This does not mean panic – it means stay home.”

Lujan Grisham gives COVID-19 update

In an address on Facebook Friday afternoon, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said that COVID-19 pandemic may peak by Mid-April, but the state will have a better sense of things with more data. The address came shortly after the state Department of Health announced that 55 more people tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of those in New Mexico who tested positive to 191. She said that 47 percent of the total cases in New Mexico are those age 45 or younger. “That’s a really important data point because it tells us that younger people who are more mobile” and not doing as much social distancing are potential high risk factors, she said. Only one person in New Mexico has died while infected with COVID-19, a type of disease caused by a coronavirus, a man in his 70s in Eddy County.

Governor orders all those who travel to NM by plane to self-isolate for 14 days

Anyone traveling to New Mexico by air must self-isolate for 14 days or for their time while in New Mexico, whichever is shorter, according to an executive order from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. The order says that those who do not self-isolate voluntarily would be subject to involuntary isolation or quarantine by the New Mexico Department of Health. Air travel has already been decimated worldwide by the response to COVID-19. Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller called the Albuquerque International Sunport “an absolute ghost town” earlier this week. “Because some individuals infected with COVID-19 are asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms, travelers may be unaware they are carrying the virus,” Lujan Grisham said in the order.

State to announce extension of public school closure on Friday

The state will announce an extension of the closure of public schools on Friday, according to the state Public Education Department. The department made the announcement on social media. The initial closure would have ended on April 6. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and PED Secretary Ryan Stewart will make the announcement alongside the New Mexico Department of Health on Friday morning, with answers to questions online. “The final determination of the scope of the closure period will be done this afternoon, after examining extensive plans among different state agencies,” the PED statement said.

24 new positive COVID-19 tests; 136 have tested positive total in NM

The state of New Mexico announced 24 new positive tests for COVID-19 on Thursday, the highest single-day number yet. 

So far, 136 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in New Mexico since the first positive tests were reported on March 11. One patient has died. Update (3/27): State reports 55 new coronavirus cases; 191 total so far

As of today, 13 individuals are hospitalized in New Mexico for COVID-19, which could include those who tested positive in other states but are hospitalized in New Mexico, but not those who tested positive for COVID-19 in New Mexico and are now in hospitals in other states. The new cases are all in counties with previously reported cases, with the most in Bernalillo County, seven, and in San Juan County, six. The state provided a breakdown of the new cases by county with some information.

Thousands have requested absentee ballots

Over 5,500 New Mexicans requested absentee ballots as of the afternoon of Wednesday March 25, according to the Secretary of State’s office. That is after her office opened the state’s absentee ballot portal on March 20. 

The launch of the online portal came a month earlier than normal for the June 2 primary elections. New Mexico offers “no-excuse” absentee voting, which means any eligible voter can vote by absentee just by requesting a ballot. Some states don’t have any absentee voting, while others only allow voters to request absentee ballots for certain reasons. The online portal for absentee ballots only began in 2018, so there is not a direct comparison for the numbers this year, in a presidential election year, which has higher turnout than elections without a presidential race on the ballot.

State: 13 new COVID-19 cases, 112 total positive tests so far

The New Mexico Department of Health announced that thirteen more people tested positive for COVID-19 as of Wednesday. That means 112 people have tested positive for COVID-19 so far. Update (3/26): 24 new positive COVID-19 tests; 136 have tested positive total in NM

Of those, one patient died, which the DOH announced on Wednesday. That case was also the first case in Eddy County. A clerical error led the DOH to list an extra case in Chaves County on Tuesday.