GALLUP, N.M. — New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday authorized the lockdown of the city of Gallup, to help control a surging coronavirus outbreak in the former trading post city on the outskirts of the Navajo Nation.
The Democratic governor announced she would be invoking New Mexico's Riot Control Act, at the request of Gallup's mayor, to enact more temporary restrictions to try and stop the spread of COVID-19 in the city.
COVID-19 infection rates in Gallup and surrounding McKinley County make it one of the worst U.S. hotspots for the pandemic as patients overwhelm intensive care facilities. More than 30% of New Mexico's total positive COVID-19 cases have been reported in McKinley County, according to the governor.
"The spread of this virus in McKinley County is frightful," said Gov. Lujan Grisham, "and it shows that physical distancing has not occurred and is not occurring. The virus is running amok there. It must be stopped, and stricter measures are necessary. A problem in one part of our state, with a virus this dangerous and this contagious, is a problem for our entire state."
New Mexico has more than 3,400 coronavirus cases and 123 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been more than 1 million cases confirmed in the U.S., and 3.3 million worldwide.
Starting at noon Friday, all roads into the city of Gallup are being shut down and businesses will be required to close each day from 5 p.m. until 8 a.m in the city of about 70,000. Additionally, only two people can be in a vehicle together at the same. The governor said residents should shelter in place "unless absolutely necessary for health or safety or a medical emergency."
Under the act, anyone who fails to comply with the restrictions would be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction of a second or subsequent offense is guilty of a fourth-degree felony.
“A problem in one part of our state, with a virus this contagious, is a problem for our entire state,” she said.
The city's lockdown will expire at noon on Monday, May 4.