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New Mexico begins lockdown as state looks to curb spread

November 16, 2020 GMT

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico on Monday started its lockdown as Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and hospital administrators look to curb COVID-19 infections.

Under the latest public health order, people are being asked to stay home and only essential businesses such as grocery stores, pharmacies, big box retailers, hardware stores, auto and bicycle repair shops and other necessary operations will be open. Universities are transitioning back to full online classes, while many municipal and state government offices are closed to walk-in requests.

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Also as a result of the restrictions, Virgin Galactic said plans for the first space test flight from southern New Mexico will be pushed back. The company had announced recently that the window for the test flight would begin Nov. 19.

Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier said in a statement that the company’s operations at Spaceport America will be minimized to the greatest degree possible in accordance with the public health order.

“We take this pause in stride and will be prepared to resume our pre-flight procedures and announce a new test flight window as soon as we can,” he said.

State health officials reported an additional 1,259 COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing the total to nearly 65,500 since the pandemic began. The death toll stands at 1,236, including 21 deaths reported Monday.

Because of the ongoing surge, health officials also announced Monday they were changing the way they accounted for hospitalizations.

Previously, COVID-19 related hospitalizations were reported to the Health Department through case investigation and contact tracing, but the increase in cases has made timely individual contact more difficult and less reliable. The department instead will report the number of hospitalizations using data it receives directly from hospitals each day.

As of Monday, 738 individuals were hospitalized in New Mexico for COVID-19. Officials said this number may include people who tested positive out of state but are hospitalized in New Mexico.