As COVID-19 cases rise in NM, governor asks protesters to exercise their rights online | KOB 4

As COVID-19 cases rise in NM, governor asks protesters to exercise their rights online

As COVID-19 cases rise in NM, governor asks protesters to exercise their rights online

Joy Wang
Updated: July 09, 2020 10:31 PM
Created: July 09, 2020 09:44 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham wants protesters to avoid gathering in large groups during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Young, old, however you would define that, people should not be doing these protests with COVID-19. Given the issues and first amendment right, I and every leader all around the country embraces the fact that we want our citizens to engage-- pre-COVID," the governor said. "COVID is a significant risk and these pose a significant challenge."

The governor said that the state is at war with COIVD-19. She said to win that "war," protesters should exercise their first amendment right online.

"As state leaders, we are discouraging that activity out in public because it's high risk, and we are encouraging-- we will help," the governor said. "We don't have to agree with whatever you're doing, it's a first amendment right, but if we can be engaged in that virtual engagement. If we can give you technical assistance, if we can get organizations to support you, whatever it is."

The governor said her new Council for Racial Justice has been working with organizers to put together webcasts and Zoom meetings.

"We would be happy to engage with groups, except for one caveat, no hate groups," the governor said. "Absolutely no one who's engaged in promoting violence, or unsafe practices. We will hold you accountable. Everyone else, we want to make sure that you are safely engaging in civic engagement in your communities."

The governor also asking people to respond to calls about contact tracing.

The state will ask if someone who's tested positive has been to a protest, along with questions about any other places they may have been.

"We don't want you to be afraid. We don't want folks to feel like it's an invasion. I'm sure that it does," the governor said. "We are saving lives and protect, making sure that we don't have further outbreaks. We need you to give us information so that we can protect you."

The governor said there is no direct evidence that links the rise in COVID-19 cases to protests. However, she said that could change with more contact tracing.

"I did thank many New Mexico protesters for wearing masks but (that) wasn't universally adhered to," she said. 

The state says, on average, one positive case leads to about 30 contacts.

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