There is a new public health order statewide to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

Starting Monday, Nov. 16, indoor and outdoor dining will be prohibited, nonessential businesses such as hair salons, barber shops and gyms will be forced to close for the time being and essential businesses — such as grocery stores and pharmacies — can operate at 25 percent capacity.

The health order runs through Nov. 30.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is also limiting lodging capacity to 25 percent for those that have completed NM Safe Certified training, down from 60 percent in the previous health order.

Houses of worship are now limited to a capacity of 25 percent or 75 bodies — “whichever is smaller,” Lujan Grisham said — which is a decrease from 40 percent capacity.

Lujan Grisham said activities such as dining out, and heading to close contact businesses such as gyms and salons, has “exasperated community spread.”

K-12 public schools, for now, will remain unaffected by the new health order, though schools currently in a remote learning model can't move over to a hybrid model during the health order, according to a press release from the New Mexico Public Education Department.

Los Lunas Schools and School of Dreams Academy are currently in a remote learning model. The Belen Board of Education on Tuesday, Nov. 17, will hold a special meeting to decide whether or not to return to remote learning for the rest of the calendar year.

After the two-week public health order expires at the end of the month, the state will implement a three-tier, county-by-county system — using county COVID-19 data — to “establish reopening benchmarks for each county.”

The governor said a special session will be held “as quick as we can” to help with economic impact in the state. She didn’t give an exact date as to when, but the next scheduled regular session is more than two months away in January.

On Thursday, Nov. 12, the state recorded a record-high 1,753 cases statewide, 57 of which were in Valencia County. And on Friday, Valencia County added another 49 cases of COVID-19.

Statewide, there are 471 people currently hospitalized with 67 on ventilators. Hospitalizations have increased by 214 percent in the last two weeks. Lujan Grisham said if a new, stricter public health order wasn’t enforced, that would “crush our current health care system and infrastructure.”

There has also been a significant uptick in the number of deaths due to coronavirus statewide. Over the last two weeks, there have been 182 deaths attributed to complications from COVID-19 compared to 75 in the two weeks before that. In Valencia County, there have been 11 deaths to date with the addition of one death being recorded on Thursday.

Staff Writer

Matthew Narvaiz was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He attended the University of New Mexico and worked at the Taos News before coming to the News-Bulletin. He covers the village of Los Lunas, Los Lunas Schools, SODA and the town of Peralta.

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