Lujan Grisham gives update on COVID-19 response, unemployment, small business

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said the idea that some communities in the state feel they don’t have to comply with the state’s restrictions are “tantamount to opening up a pool and having a ‘pee’ section. This makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.” The statement came during a Friday afternoon press conference that included updates on the […]

Lujan Grisham gives update on COVID-19 response, unemployment, small business

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said the idea that some communities in the state feel they don’t have to comply with the state’s restrictions are “tantamount to opening up a pool and having a ‘pee’ section. This makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.”

The statement came during a Friday afternoon press conference that included updates on the state’s unemployment efforts, federal stimulus money and more.

But Lujan Grisham also continued to urge residents across the state to comply with orders to make sure New Mexico can continue to flatten the curve of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

Related: DOH announces six more COVID-19-related deaths and 153 test positive cases Friday

She also addressed those who live near surrounding states that are themselves easing restrictions, and whether those who live in New Mexico would travel .

“I worry greatly about the impact here,” the governor said.

She noted that COVID-19 initially spread because of travel.

“People on planes, people in cars, people on buses, people on trains. That’s how it spreads,” she said, and urged New Mexicans to resist the urge to travel to other states and to instead remain at home as much as possible.

Lujan Grisham was asked about the mayor of Grants, who said he will allow non-essential businesses to reopen with social distancing efforts in place when she made her swimming pool analogy.

She said that if businesses open without instruction, they will be subject to receive a cease-and-desist order from the New Mexico State Police. These orders could result in fines for the companies that disobey the order. 

“I absolutely don’t want that to occur,” Lujan Grisham said. “So I hope the mayor heeds all of our advice and walks back that statement.”

Mayor Martin “Modey” Hicks had previously made his own analogy, comparing the governor to Adolf Hitler and to state police as the gestapo, the Nazi secret police that, among other atrocities, tortured and killed Jews. The Anti-Defamation League Mountain States Region condemned Hicks’ comments.

Lujan Grisham said it was too early to reopen elective procedures at hospitals, but that they are in the process of evaluating when it would be safe to do so.

Dr. David Scrase, the Secretary of the Human Services Department, said, “We are looking for preliminary recommendations.”

The state, like those across the country, halted elective procedures as a way to save personal protective equipment, drugs and hospital beds that would possibly be needed for COVID-19 response.

Lujan Grisham said the state followed broad guidance from the American Medical Association and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and that she is focusing on advice from scientists and doctors.

 “I believe in science,” she said.

Unemployment

Bill McCamley, the Secretary of the Department of Workforce Solutions, attended the press conference as well and spoke about the unemployment process. 

He addressed the long wait times that many have experienced as the state’s unemployment system has become overwhelmed.

“We are very, very sorry for all of the frustration that people have felt in working through the unemployment system,” McCamley said.

McCamley said in January, 9,600 New Mexicans received unemployment benefits each week, and the state received 650-800 applications per week. Since March 15, days after the public health emergency order, 79,806 state residents have received benefits and the state had 123,816 active applications as of the night of April 22.

To address this, McCamley said that DWS has added 145 staff for its insurance operations center, including support from six other state agencies, and the call center hours have been expanded from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Another 80 additional staff is working with adjudication.

“Almost everybody’s working overtime,” McCamley said, noting that workers are doing jobs they weren’t initially assigned to.

The new unemployment benefits now include additional funds from the federal CARES Act, he said.

“Every single person who is getting any kind of unemployment… is going to get that additional $600 added to their weekly benefit through the end of July,” he said.

Lujan Grisham also addressed the efforts to aid small businesses.

She said that New Mexico small businesses received $1.4 billion, spread among 8.277 entities, from the first round of Paycheck Protection Program loans through the CARES Act. The money is distributed directly from the federal Small Business Administration and the state isn’t sure which companies received the aid, Lujan Grisham said.

The loans are designed to go to small businesses to allow them to keep employees on staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. If at least 75 percent of the loans go towards keeping employees on payroll, the loans will be fully forgiven.

A second round of money will open up on Monday through the latest COVID-19 relief bill, and Lujan Grisham encouraged New Mexico businesses to apply.

She also highlighted programs the state has to aid businesses, including zero and low interest loans.

We're ad free

That means that we rely on support from readers like you. Help us keep reporting on the most important New Mexico Stories by donating today.

Related

Effort to challenge six laws enacted last year comes to an end

Effort to challenge six laws enacted last year comes to an end

Earlier this month, the New Mexico Supreme Court denied and dismissed the effort to challenge six laws enacted in 2023. The New Mexico Supreme…
Governor to call special session for public safety legislation this summer

Governor to call special session for public safety legislation this summer

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that she will call the Legislature into a special session this summer to address public safety legislation that did…
Emily’s List endorses seven candidates for Legislature

Emily’s List endorses seven candidates for Legislature

Emily’s List, a nonprofit that supports women candidates and reproductive rights, endorsed seven incumbents facing general election opponents in New Mexico legislative elections. All…
Ozone pollution continues to plague New Mexico

Ozone pollution continues to plague New Mexico

Four of the nine New Mexico counties evaluated in the annual State of the Air report received failing marks for ozone pollution. The counties…
NM receives $156M to boost access to solar

NM receives $156M to boost access to solar

New Mexico will receive millions in federal money to increase access to solar power. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced recipients of the $7…
Two PFAS chemicals designated hazardous substances under Superfund law

Two PFAS chemicals designated hazardous substances under Superfund law

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a final rule Friday to designate two types of PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances. Those two chemicals are perfluorooctanoic…
Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican The main things that bring Brayan Chavez to school every day: Seeing, talking to and engaging with…
Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican Brittany Behenna Griffith has a laundry list of adjectives to describe the ideal special education teacher:…
Lawmakers must find consensus on competing education spending plans

Lawmakers must find consensus on competing education spending plans

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican A challenging task awaits New Mexico lawmakers in the next 30 days: Reconciling three very different…
Health workers fear it’s profits before protection as CDC revisits airborne transmission

Health workers fear it’s profits before protection as CDC revisits airborne transmission

Amy Maxmen, KFF Health News Four years after hospitals in New York City overflowed with covid-19 patients, emergency physician Sonya Stokes remains shaken by…
Lujan Grisham, Biden admin announce $10 million in federal funds for tribes, pueblos

Lujan Grisham, Biden admin announce $10 million in federal funds for tribes, pueblos

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Friday $10 million in funding from the federal American Rescue Plan Act was awarded to six tribal nations and…
Proposal to curb executive powers moves to House Judiciary

Proposal to curb executive powers moves to House Judiciary

The House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee discussed a potential constitutional amendment that seeks to limit the governor’s executive powers. The committee approved…
Latest SCOTUS abortion case uncertain and could impact New Mexico

Latest SCOTUS abortion case uncertain and could impact New Mexico

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Wednesday on an abortion-related case, this time over whether an Idaho anti-abortion law preempts a federal…
Abortion fund provider rebrands and holds open house

Abortion fund provider rebrands and holds open house

An abortion fund provider unveiled a rebrand and offered an open house in Las Cruces to celebrate the organization’s new name, mission and values. …
Stansbury introduces judicial ethics bill on U.S. Supreme Court steps

Stansbury introduces judicial ethics bill on U.S. Supreme Court steps

U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury announced a bill on Thursday that would, if enacted, establish judicial ethics to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Judicial Ethics…
Latest SCOTUS abortion case uncertain and could impact New Mexico

Latest SCOTUS abortion case uncertain and could impact New Mexico

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Wednesday on an abortion-related case, this time over whether an Idaho anti-abortion law preempts a federal…
Abortion fund provider rebrands and holds open house

Abortion fund provider rebrands and holds open house

An abortion fund provider unveiled a rebrand and offered an open house in Las Cruces to celebrate the organization’s new name, mission and values. …
Politics and abortion, how much will it matter?

Politics and abortion, how much will it matter?

At the national level, abortion is still a high-stakes issue with both major presidential candidates talking about it in their campaigns, but it may…
Progressives going after incumbents in hot Democratic primaries

Progressives going after incumbents in hot Democratic primaries

By Justin Horwath, NM In Depth It’s a safe bet Democrats will barrel into 2025 with their supremacy intact at the New Mexico Legislature.…
Effort to challenge six laws enacted last year comes to an end

Effort to challenge six laws enacted last year comes to an end

Earlier this month, the New Mexico Supreme Court denied and dismissed the effort to challenge six laws enacted in 2023. The New Mexico Supreme…
Vasquez calls out Republicans for ‘inaction’ on border policy

Vasquez calls out Republicans for ‘inaction’ on border policy

U.S. Rep. Gabriel “Gabe” Vasquez, a Democrat who represents the state’s 2nd Congressional District along the U.S.-Mexico border, cosponsored a resolution on Monday calling…
Latest SCOTUS abortion case uncertain and could impact New Mexico

Latest SCOTUS abortion case uncertain and could impact New Mexico

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Wednesday on an abortion-related case, this time over whether an Idaho anti-abortion law preempts a federal…
Ozone pollution continues to plague New Mexico

Ozone pollution continues to plague New Mexico

Four of the nine New Mexico counties evaluated in the annual State of the Air report received failing marks for ozone pollution. The counties…
Progressives going after incumbents in hot Democratic primaries

Progressives going after incumbents in hot Democratic primaries

By Justin Horwath, NM In Depth It’s a safe bet Democrats will barrel into 2025 with their supremacy intact at the New Mexico Legislature.…

GET INVOLVED

© 2023 New Mexico Political Report