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New Mexico governor regrets criticizing Espanola over masks

August 29, 2020 GMT

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is apologizing for claiming residents of Espanola aren’t wearing masks during the pandemic.

The governor said in a statement Friday that she regrets her words gave an inaccurate impression of Espanola.

“Please accept my apology for that, and please know that your efforts in fighting COVID-19 are so important and are making an enormous difference for our state,” Lujan Grisham said.

At a news conference Thursday, Lujan Grisham criticized those who were disobeying a state mandate to wear face coverings in public. She cited Espanola as an example, saying she had recently driven through the town and saw nobody with a mask on. Lujan Grisham said she concedes that was just one “snapshot” of how the town was dealing with COVID-19.

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Espanola Mayor Javier Sanchez slammed Lujan Grisham’s comments, saying it felt like “getting punched in the gut.” He says it’s bad enough people already stereotype Espanola, a town of 10,000, as high in poverty and crime.

State health officials on Saturday confirmed 139 additional virus cases and two more deaths. That raises the pandemic tally to 25,178 cases and 769 deaths statewide.