SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham expressed hope Wednesday that most elementary school students will be able to return to classrooms after Labor Day under a hybrid mode, citing declining statewide rates of coronavirus infection.
In a live video interview with Washington Post journalist Eugene Scott, Lujan Grisham said New Mexico is “crushing it” when it comes to containing the pandemic and meeting the state’s criteria for reopening the economy. She expressed hope that K-5 classrooms can reopen to rotating pods of students who also study remotely from home.
“We think we’re gonna be able to do that just after Labor Day,” Lujan Grisham said. “New Mexico has to stay the course to achieve that. So far, so good.”
Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, touted the state’s “smart, slow, prudent” approach to economic recovery during interviews ahead of a Wednesday evening speech in support of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden for the Democratic National Convention.
She blamed the federal government for missed opportunities to halt the spread of COVID-19 in Native American communities, without mentioning President Donald Trump. The Navajo Nation that extends across portions of New Mexico, Arizona and Utah was hit hard early on.
“It could have been different, and there is no reason this country has to grieve more than 170,000 lost lives,” said Lujan Grisham. “That is federal government malpractice.”
The governor is under pressure from Republican Party officials to move forward with reopening the economy. The state is under a stay-at-home health order that mandates masks in public, bans public gatherings of more than four people, prohibits indoor dining at restaurants and requires two weeks of self-isolation for many travelers who enter or return from out-of-state.
“It’s shameful and harmful to New Mexicans that the governor doesn’t reopen New Mexico when her own COVID-19 case criteria are met,” state Republican Party Chairman Steve Pearce said in a news release.