Coronavirus Updates

Las Cruces Announces Additional Closures

Mar 16, 2020
Branigan Library

Following guidance from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the New Mexico Department of Health, related to limiting large public gatherings to help reduce the spread of illnesses, the City of Las Cruces has updated operational changes for City government. The updated operational changes become effective at midnight Monday.

Grant County Detention Center Suspends Visitation

Mar 16, 2020
Grant County Detention Center

Given the risks associated with the spread of COVID-19, the Grant County Detention Center has modified operations at our facility.

At this time in order to best protect the Grant County Detention Center, effective immediately the Grant County Detention Center will:

  1. Suspend all on-site visitation in the Detention Center.   The Grant County Detention Center has the capability of video visitation in the housing units.  Video visitations will be conducted on Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 4 pm.   The maximum visitation time is 30 minutes.    Families can utilize the CIDNET App from their cellphone, laptop or other electronic device to schedule visitation with their loved ones.
  2. Access to the secure areas for non-essential personnel has been suspended until further notice.  This includes all volunteer services. 

New Mexico Expands Child Care Eligibility, Guarantees Payments for Child Care Providers

Mar 16, 2020
Early Childhood Education and Care Department Secretary Elizabeth Groginsky

  SANTA FE – In response to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s March 11 declaration of a public health emergency, the Children, Youth, and Families Department (CYFD) and the Early Childhood Education and Care Department (ECECD) have made a series of temporary changes to New Mexico’s early childhood policies. 

“We recognize that New Mexicans face a range of circumstances and challenges. If you have the flexibility to stay home with your child, we encourage you to do so. If you need child care, we are doing everything in our power to ensure that you have access to healthy and safe care,” said Early Childhood Education and Care Department Secretary Elizabeth Groginsky. “New Mexico is fortunate to have child care providers who are stepping up to support families - and we are here to support them.” 

SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has issued five executive orders authorizing up to $3,250,000 of additional funding for emergency response and disaster relief efforts to address the effects of the COVID-19 public health emergency. The funding will be used to assist in humanitarian relief, public health measures and to benefit families and children impacted by school closures.   

This disaster-relief funding has been made available to the New Mexico National Guard, the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, the Department of Health, the Public Education Department, and the Children, Youth and Families Department. Any unused emergency funds will revert back to the General Fund. 

  SANTA FE – New Mexico Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel on Sunday announced she would strengthen the public health emergency order she issued Thursday, March 12, amending the restrictions on social gatherings to limit the incidence of COVID-19 in New Mexico. 

Beginning 9 a.m., Monday, March 16, the amended public health order directs that all restaurants, bars, breweries, eateries and other food establishments shall operate at no greater than 50 percent of maximum occupancy and no greater than 50 percent of seating capacity. In addition, tables and booths may not seat more than six people, and all occupied tables and booths must be separated by at least six feet. Patrons may not be seated at bars, and standing patrons will not be served.


New Mexico Public Defenders Ask State To Postpone All Trials, Allow Telephonic Hearings

Mar 15, 2020

  SANTA FE, NM — The New Mexico Law Offices of the Public Defender on Sunday asked the state’s Supreme Court to immediately postpone all trials across the state and allow all but the most essential hearings to be held telephonically in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus.


“This is a very difficult decision because all public defenders care deeply about safeguarding our clients’ rights to speedy determination of their cases, but in a health emergency like this one, the safety of our clients and our court community is of the highest concern,” Chief Public Defender Bennett Baur said. “If this virus gets into one of our jails, the conditions are such that it could spread rapidly in close quarters, and many people in jail are already in poor health.”


Baur on Sunday also asked for discussions on release of some inmates and other steps to limit spread of the virus.


New Mexico Closes State Museums, Parks, Historic Sites; Implements Remote Work

Mar 15, 2020

  SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Sunday issued a directive to all state agencies to accelerate remote-work initiatives in the wake of the COVID-19 public health emergency and to temporarily adjust, and in some cases suspend, certain functions in order to minimize public health risks.

"We're asking every state employee to continue serving the public. Some can do that best by coming to the office and delivering indispensable services – and some can do that best by working from home and protecting the public health," said Gov. Lujan Grisham. "We are emphasizing social distancing with minimal disruption to services – and that's what we recommend for all.

“Right now, the message to New Mexicans must be clear: Avoid social gatherings, wash your hands, and bottom line, stay home. That’s the best thing we can all do to protect each other’s health.”

As part of the directive, New Mexico state agencies will make adjustments to their operations, including the following actions:

  • ​Closing all state museums, state historic sites, state parks and cultural institutions to the public effective Monday morning; state visitors centers were previously closed to the public

  • ​In government offices that provide direct service (for example, MVD), limiting staff and moving to an alternative or remote model of service; all other state government buildings and leased state offices are closed to the public

  • ​Completing the transition of all employees who are able to work remotely to a remote work model

Updated at 5 a.m. ET on Monday

European shares dropped more than 8% on Monday, led by losses in Italy and France, the two countries hardest-hit by the coronavirus pandemic that has girdled the globe in recent weeks, infecting tens of thousands of people, severing supply chains and slowing commerce as people are forced to stay home.

In early trading, Italy's FTSE MIB, France's CAC 40 and Germany's DAX were all down more than 8%, with London's FTSE 100 just behind, dropping more than 7%.

The New Mexico Public Education Department made several announcements Friday that address questions families had following the state-mandated closure of all public schools. Las Cruces Public Schools is working with community resources to continue meal service and mental health resources, and employees have been assured that they will be paid as if there were no shutdown. Students and staff were also reassured that the state requirements for instructional hours will be waived, so classroom days missed because of the shutdown will not have to be made up later. 


  Contracted, school-based health centers that care for Las Cruces Public School students will continue services during the state-mandated shutdown, district officials announced Friday. Over the weekend, off-campus locations for those services were finalized. 

     A recent outbreak of COVID-19 in central and northern New Mexico forced a state-wide shutdown of all public schools through April 6. Students who receive behavioral health counseling at school-based centers managed by Ben Archer will be contacted privately by their therapists and appointments will be done either over the phone, via video conference or in person at select clinics.

UPDATE: Two Presumptive Positive Cases Of COVID-19 In El Paso

Mar 14, 2020
NM Department of Health

On Friday, El Paso announced its first presumptive positive case of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.  Officials say a man in his 40s tested positive and was recovering at home under self-quarantine, after traveling to California.  A second man tested positive on Sunday and is hospitalized.

El Paso County and the City of El Paso join the federal government and the states of Texas and New Mexico in declaring a state of emergency.

El Paso Mayor Dee Margo says making the declaration could allow the city to access more resources.

SANTA FE – In order to minimize the danger of COVID-19 spread to high-risk communities, the state Department of Health on Saturday announced that it has ordered nursing homes to limit visitation to people whose loved ones are receiving end-of-life care.

The order also targets facilities providing assisted living, adult day care, hospice and rehabilitation for older adult patients. Facilities where older adults live or that provide services to them are strongly encouraged to implement the recommendations as is reasonably appropriate.

The U.S. government maintains an enormous stockpile of emergency medical supplies, and officials have already started dipping into it to help fight the novel coronavirus.

But while having a stockpile is better than not having it, experts say, there's a limit to what a stockpile can do in this crisis.

How long can the new coronavirus live on a surface, like say, a door handle, after someone infected touches it with dirty fingers? A study out this week finds that the virus can survive on hard surfaces such as plastic and stainless steel for up to 72 hours and on cardboard for up to 24 hours.

New Mexico Gov: “I’m prepared to make every hard decision that saves lives."

Mar 13, 2020

  In the space of 24 hours, the United States seemed to close shop. 

Disneyland shut its gates. The NCAA cancelled March Madness and the NBA suspended its season. President Trump ended travel by Europeans into the United States. The show will not go on for the biggest concert tours and Broadway theaters, at least for now. And churches and universities across the country and the globe chose to eliminate in-person services and classes temporarily. Closer to home, all of New Mexico public schools will close for three weeks starting Monday, and gatherings of more than 100 people are banned, with some exemptions. 

With anxiety surrounding the spread of infectious COVID-19 novel coronavirus touching nearly every facet of American life, blood banks are seeing a precipitous drop in donations, which puts patients who need transfusions at serious risk.

University of New Mexico physicians want people to know that the need for blood donations for trauma victims and other seriously ill patients remains constant, and they are asking members of the public to step up.

“I know there’s a lot of fear surrounding the coronavirus these days,” said Sonlee West, MD, an associate professor and director of trauma services at UNM Hospital. “I want to encourage people to continue to donate blood or consider donating blood for our cancer patients and trauma victims.”

Diocese of Las Cruces Directives For COVID-19

Mar 13, 2020

Bishop Peter Baldacchino has announced that all Catholics in the Diocese of Las Cruces are dispensed from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass. Mass will, however, continue to be celebrated in parishes as regularly scheduled.

The Diocese encourages the faithful to stay home if they are ill, elderly or if they have compromised immune systems. People with infants and young children are also advised to avoid large gatherings, as are those who may be fearful of possible contagion for themselves and/or their families. Those not attending Mass are asked to find the Mass on TV, the radio or on-line and make a Spiritual Communion. Where that is not an option, it would be appropriate to pray the Liturgy of the Hours or the Rosary.

In addition, the Catholic schools in the Diocese of Las Cruces will follow the statewide school closure. The closure will take effect on March 16, and students will be allowed to return to school on Monday, April 6.

The Diocese is closely monitoring the situation and will post updates every Thursday, or as necessary.

Social distancing has been proven to be one of the most effective means of stemming the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus. Unfortunately, social distancing – such not attending large outdoor events with 100 more people – also means not venturing out into public as much and not doing some of the things you enjoy, like going to work or church, and not getting to see many of the people you care about.

Santa Fe – Due to the state’s ban on mass public gatherings in response to COVID-19, the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (EMNRD) is closing all New Mexico State Parks to overnight camping effective Friday, March 13.

Scheduled events during this time have also been canceled or postponed in the interest of public safety. All 35 State Parks will remain open for day use. The overnight camping ban will expire April 9 unless extended.

Visitors with overnight camping reservations will be issued a full refund. For details on specific parks events and additional information visit the State Parks website.

Las Cruces Launches COVID-19 Alert Center

Mar 12, 2020

  The City of Las Cruces today, March 12, launched an online alert center to keep residents informed of the latest coronavirus news impacting City-related operations. The alert center can be accessed at


SANTA FE – New Mexico Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel issued an order Thursday temporarily prohibiting mass gatherings in New Mexico in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The public health order defines mass gatherings as events that bring together 100 or more people in a single room or connected space like auditoriums, stadiums, arenas, conference centers and theaters. 

Exempt from the order are airports, other mass transit, shopping malls, shelters, retail and grocery stores, offices and businesses, courthouses, all educational institutions, child-care centers, health care facilities and other congregate care facilities and places of worship.

As the coronavirus spreads in the U.S., public health agencies are starting to worry about hospital capacity.

Overseas, China was forced to build two new hospitals on an emergency basis, and in South Korea earlier this week, the government said over two thousand people were waiting for hospital care.

State health officials spoke in Las Cruces Thursday about the state’s response to the cononavirus threat. 

So far, most coronavirus cases diagnosed in the United States are travel-related.  But there is concern about the potential for more person-to-person transmission.  Eric Chenier is Deputy Secretary of the New Mexico Department of Health.

“We are currently working to identify cases as early as possible and implement isolation procedures to prevent further spread of the virus should we have a case.  COVID-19 causes a mild illness in roughly 81 percent of those who get the disease.  Typical symptoms are fever, cough, and shortness of breath.  The most heavily impacted and vulnerable populations are those who are older and those who have some other sort of illness.  Only about two percent of those who are getting sick with COVID-19 are children,” said Chenier.