Updated Nov. 19 at 9 p.m.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Thursday (Nov. 19) that legislators will meet in Santa Fe for a special session next week to allocate $300 million in Cares Act funds toward small businesses, unemployment and housing assistance.
"We know this is creating incredible hardship," the governor said during a remote press conference held with her staff Thursday afternoon that was livestreamed on Facebook.
The special session will take place Tuesday (Nov. 24). The goal is to provide some form of financial relief to New Mexicans feeling the economic repercussions of another mandatory two-week closure of non-essential businesses and a shelter in place order.
The New Mexico Department of Health reported 3,675 new cases of the novel coronavirus across the state on Thursday and 12 additional deaths. Taos County has seen its record for most cases in a single day climb for the last three days, with 32 reported Tuesday (Nov. 17), 36 Wednesday (Nov. 18) and 52 new cases on Thursday. The state's tally of deaths in the county remained at nine Thursday, despite reports of additional deaths at Taos Living Center in the past two weeks.
Hospitalizations in the state have also continued to climb. A total of 774 people with COVID-19 are currently being treated in medical facilities throughout the state, and 125 are on ventilators. In Taos, Holy Cross Medical Center has treated 41 people for the disease in November alone, roughly 70 percent of the 59 patients hospitalized with the virus at the medical facility all year, according to an update from Chief Executive Officer Bill Patten.
To alleviate some of that burden, the state announced that an "alternate care site" at Gibson Medical Center in Albuquerque will open on Friday (Nov. 20) for people not requiring acute levels of care. The facility will provide 25 beds for step-down nursing care and another 25 beds for isolation and quarantine for people who have tested positive or have had contact with someone who has the virus. If capacity at other hospitals throughout the state continues to be squeezed Gibson has room to expand to two more floors in the facility to provide a total of 180 beds.
“This facility will alleviate some of the immense pressure on our state health care system, which is rapidly becoming overcrowded and taxed under the shroud of this pandemic,” said Department of Health Cabinet Secretary-designate Tracie C. Collins, M.D.
The governor said the state is in crisis and urged New Mexicans to continue sheltering in place, wearing masks, practicing social distancing and washing hands in order to prevent additional spread of the virus.