SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham expressed hope Wednesday that most elementary school students will be able to return to classrooms after Labor Day under a hybrid mode, citing declining statewide rates of coronavirus infection.
In a live video interview with Washington Post journalist Eugene Scott, Lujan Grisham said New Mexico is “crushing it" when it comes containing the pandemic and meeting the state's criteria for reopening the economy. She expressed hope that K-5 classrooms can reopen to rotating pods of students who also study remotely from home.
“We think we’re gonna be able to do that just after Labor Day,” Lujan Grisham said. “New Mexico has to stay the course to achieve that. So far, so good.”
Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, touted the state's “smart, slow, prudent” approach to economic recovery during interviews ahead of a Wednesday evening speech in support of Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden for the Democratic National Convention.
She blamed the federal government for missed opportunities to halt the spread of COVID-19 in Native American communities, without mentioning President Donald Trump. The Navajo Nation that extends across portions of New Mexico, Arizona and Utah has been hit hard by outbreaks.
“It could have been different, and there is no reason this country has to grieve more than 170,00 lost lives," said Lujan Grisham, who said she hopes to play a role. "That is federal government malpractice.”
The governor is under pressure from Republican Party officials to move forward with reopening the economy. The state is under a stay-at-home health order that mandates masks in public, bans public gatherings or more than four people, prohibits in-door dining at restaurants and requires two weeks of self-isolation for many travelers who enter or return from out-of-state.
"It’s shameful and harmful to New Mexicans that the governor doesn’t reopen New Mexico when her own COVID-19 case criteria are met,” state Republican Party Chairman Steve Pearce said in a news release.
In other virus-related developments:
—State health officials on Wednesday announced 174 new coronavirus infections and six related deaths.
—A central New Mexico family that has three medical practices has closed its offices due to coronavirus exposure, and two members of the family are recovering from symptoms of the virus.
The Albuquerque Journal reports Dr. Roland Sanchez, who has a family practice in Belen, New Mexico, and his wife, Elia, have been diagnosed with the coronavirus. A statement from the family didn’t provide details of their condition.
Family spokesman Tom Garrity says with two exceptions, the family members who have tested positive are asymptomatic.
Along with Sanchez’s medical practice, those of his sons, Dr. Roland Sanchez II, who owns Conquistador Dental, and Dr. Florian Sanchez, owner of Yucca Veterinary Medical Center, closed their respective offices on Aug. 10. According to voice recordings at each office, all three planned on reopening this week.