New Mexico officials say they’re “tightening” the definition of essential businesses to exclude some large retailers that sell essential supplies as the state reports a record-high number of COVID-19 cases for the second day in a row.
Just after 4:30 p.m., cellphones around the state buzzed with an emergency alert reading “Shelter in place except for emergency needs. EXTREME virus risk.”
Daily confirmed positive cases swelled to 2,897, the governor’s office reported Wednesday. Twenty-six more deaths were recorded, second only to the slightly higher number reported Tuesday.
That brings the total number of New Mexico deaths linked to the disease to 1,290, and the total number of cases to over 70,000. There are 776 people hospitalized because of COVID-19, officials said.
In order to accept in-person customers, large retailers will be required to generate more than a third of their revenue from essential goods like food or essential services like car or bike repair.
That means stores that mostly sell clothes, will have to serve customers curbside or through delivery only, said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham spokeswoman, Nora Meyers Sackett.
It’s unclear if stores like Walmart and Target, that sell groceries, might be deemed essential and allowed to remain open under the new rules without seeing a breakdown of their sales.
“Regardless, they are encouraged and indeed urged to be good partners in this public health effort and reduce operations to curbside exclusively to the greatest extent possible,” Sackett said.
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is set to deliver a live remote cast this afternoon at 3:00 pm.