New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said that she’ll do “what’s right” for her state to slow coronavirus spread even if President Donald Trump eases up on social distancing guidelines come May.
“We’re going to make the decisions that safeguard New Mexicans,” the Democratic governor told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”
Her Sunday comments come as Trump weighs reopening the US economy in three weeks, despite health experts on the White House task force, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, having cautioned against relaxing mitigation efforts, warning that it could lead to a resurge in cases.
But as Trump itches to reopen the country, it’s the nation’s governors and mayors who hold the real power to enforce closures and lift stay-at-home orders.
Lujan Grisham, who has issued a stay-at-home order for New Mexico, predicted the coronavirus peak in her state would come as late as the end of May.
“We’ve looked at recovery options but we’re not going do anything until the peak occurs,” she said Sunday.
She argued that testing should be universal to combat the virus as cases in the US have exceeded 530,000 and resulted in over 20,000 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
“If we had better national strategies and universal testing and software-based contract tracing, then we could really figure out when opening makes sense and we could start to do that in the country. So I’m going to do whatever’s right for New Mexico,” Lujan Grisham said.
On the same program Sunday, New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy also was hesitant to say when the state could return to normalcy.
“I fear if we open too early and we have not sufficiently made that health recovery and cracked the back of this virus, that we could be pouring gasoline on the fire, even inadvertently,” he told Tapper.
New Mexico currently has over 1,100 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 20 deaths from the virus, according to the John Hopkins University tally. New Jersey is the second state, behind New York, with the most confirmed cases. The state has over 58,100 confirmed cases and 2,183 deaths as of Sunday.
Lujan Grisham also spoke of the “unique challenges” the state faces in preventing the spread of coronavirus among its 23 Native American tribes.
According to Lujan Grisham, 25% of New Mexico’s positive Covid-19 cases are Native Americans.
“Some of these areas, particularly in the Navajo Nation, you’re in a situation where you’ve got folks living without access to water and electricity, and this creates unique challenges,” she said.
The state is working with Utah and Arizona to support the leadership of the Navajo Nation, setting up field hospitals and triage centers, the governor said.
To support the Pueblo tribes, the state has set up roadblocks to help contain the virus and sent the National Guard to deliver food to the communities, Lujan Grisham said.