There is a joke in New Mexico that the rest of the country does not know the state is part of the U.S. This summer, as cases of COVID-19 surged in many parts of the nation, New Mexico really did seem to stand apart. While Arizona and Texas, its neighbors to the west and east, loosened activity and business restrictions and then experienced alarming increases in COVID-19 numbers, New Mexico kept a tighter grip on the spread of the contagion. To date, Arizona has had more than twice as many cases and nearly twice as many deaths as New Mexico has per 100,000 people. The latter state also has far fewer cases and deaths per 100,000 than Texas.
New Mexico’s governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has taken an aggressive approach toward the pandemic. She declared a statewide emergency on March 11, the same day the state had its first positive case.