With the three-day Memorial Day holiday set to begin, members of the Las Cruces City Council and Dona Ana County Board of Commissioners are urging residents to enjoy the unofficial start of summer at home.
“With a partial re-opening of El Paso underway, it’s very tempting for residents of Las Cruces and Dona Ana County to cross the state line to visit restaurants, stores and other attractions over the long weekend,” said Mayor Ken Miyagishima. “But the commercial activity underway in El Paso doesn’t mean the coronavirus threat has gone away.”
Yesterday, Thursday, May 21, El Paso reported its second largest spike in positive COVID-19 cases and three additional deaths.
“Please be mindful of the risk you pose to yourself and your loved ones if you consider going to El Paso during this time. It really is better to be safe than sorry by staying put and avoiding the unnecessary risk of exposure,” Miyagishima said.
“New Mexico is taking a very measured approach to re-opening in an effort to keep COVID-19 at bay. We want to ask our residents to stay home over the Memorial Day weekend so that the progress made in containing the virus is not jeopardized,” said County Commissioner Chair Lynn Ellins.
Just in time for the holiday weekend, the City of Las Cruces Parks & Recreation Department will today implement the Phase 1 reopening of all City trails, with a the remote control track, the remote control airport and the Butterfield Trail Shooting Range opening tomorrow. The Apodaca Park pickleball courts and Lions Park tennis courts will open Tuesday on a limited basis.
City Councilor Gabe Vasquez, District 3, said, “It’s up to us to keep our infection numbers low so that we can continue with the phased reopening of Dona Ana County and New Mexico. We’re getting there, but we can’t put ourselves at risk at this time by visiting our neighbors.”
“Keeping our citizens safe is our priority. We are asking you to stay home, stay safe and if you must go out, wear a face covering and support our local businesses,” said County Commissioner Vice Chair Manuel Sanchez.
“State public health orders passed by Secretary of Health Kathyleen Kunkel are only enforceable by the New Mexico State Police. They have limited resources and are unable to adequately protect the entire state. Just like we need to enact our own declaration of a disaster to qualify for federal reimbursement from FEMA for our expenses during this pandemic, we also need to share the burden of responsibility for the safety of our citizens,” said County Commissioner Shannon Reynolds.
“No one wants to arrest anyone during this pandemic. However, we occasionally have citizens who put the safety of others and our community at unnecessary risk. When this happens, we need the authority to act. We had reports that this coming weekend, citizens from surrounding counties, ignoring the public health order against large gatherings, would converge on Mesquite to attend a private rodeo event. The state police were able to intervene to postpone the event. It does seem odd that anyone who lives in a county with very few COVID-19 cases would want to hold a rodeo in a community with the infection rate that exceeds 170% in the last 14 days. No matter. Either way without these ordinances, we depend on the state police to protect our residents in these situations,” Reynolds said.
County Commissioners and City Councilors thank all area residents for their understanding of this joint stay-at-home request, and their continued compliance with New Mexico’s current public health order that includes social distancing, frequent hand washing and self-isolation measures necessary to protect public health. The order advises all New Mexicans to stay at home except for food, prescriptions, or medical treatment. Following the recent order, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham advised that face coverings are now required in public and retail spaces. Also, a new emergency proclamation issued by Mayor Miyagishima requires all members of the public, with some exceptions, to wear a face covering when inside, in line to enter, or utilizing a City building, property or facility, including City parks. The proclamation is in effect through May 31.