SAM Magazine—Santa Fe, N.M., Nov. 14, 2020—New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and state health officials temporarily re-imposed a statewide order Friday that closes in-person services for all non-essential activities, including skiing and snowboarding, in an attempt to blunt the spike of COVID-19 illnesses and the escalating strain on hospitals and health care providers across the state.
The heightened restrictions statewide will be in effect Nov. 16-30, and could continue after that date.
The shelter-in-place restrictions came in response to "unsustainable rates of new infections of COVID-19," according to an official statement, and as hospitals throughout the state approach or exceed capacity for bed availability and staffing resources. New Mexico’s rolling 7-day average of new COVID-19 cases is nearly 10 times greater than the state’s target for a safe “reopening” process. COVID-19 hospitalizations have more than doubled over the most recent four weeks.
Several of the state's ski areas had planned to open around Thanksgiving, and those plans are on hold. That may not be the worst news for the state's resorts, though.
"The real problem is around the possible extension of the order," Taos Ski Valley president David Norden told SAM."We are looking at further simplifying our operation so we can deal with ongoing stop/start conditions. With potential closures, you also have changes in lodging occupancies, F&B occupancies, retail caps, and on and on."
The state has developed a tiered county-by-county system that will be used to establish “re-opening” benchmarks for each county after Nov. 30. The system would permit counties the flexibility to engage in more in-person and business activities, with Department of Health approval, when they are able to drive down infection rates and prevent community outbreaks.
Oregon Areas Remain Open
The New Mexico order contrasts with Oregon, where Gov. Kate Brown placed new limits on businesses and socializing to slow the spread of COVID-19 on Friday, but exempted some of Oregon's outdoor recreation businesses, including ski resorts. Oregon's state parks and campgrounds and recreation facilities on federal lands are all open, for example. Even places that bring people a bit closer together, such as ski areas, can open, Brown's spokesman Elizabeth Merah said.
Oregon's statewide freeze runs from Nov. 18 through Dec. 2. It will continue for at least two additional weeks for Multnomah County (Portland), and could also continue in other hotspot counties, Brown said.
"The dreaded winter surge is here. Infection records are being set in states across the entire country," Brown said. "Whether we like it or not, we're about to face what might be the roughest days of the pandemic."