Chaves County officials want to negotiate with governor to reopen economy | KOB 4

Chaves County officials want to negotiate with governor to reopen economy

Faith Egbuonu
Updated: April 27, 2020 07:46 PM
Created: April 27, 2020 07:41 PM

ROSWELL, N.M. —  Chaves County Sheriff, Mike Herrington, said he is seeking middle ground with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on how the county plans to work with the state as they search for an economic solution.

"There are people who we're seeing face to face every day who are suffering from this shut down and we need you to help us find a middle ground to get these businesses back open and get people both financially and mentally stable again,” said Chaves County sheriff, Mike Herrington.

With the state’s emergency orders put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19, Sheriff Herrington said he spoke with business owners financially impacted Monday.

Herrington said he and his staff created a ‘plan of action’ form for businesses deemed non-essential to follow in order for their voices to be heard.

"We're asking questions. Who do you provide service for? Because we do want to stay in compliance with the governor's order,” Herrington said. “We want to see whether or not your business is considered to be essential, not just to you but to the community. What is your plan of action if you do get to open that up? Do you have a way of sanitizing your business? Do you have a way of keeping so many people out of there?"

“For us in Chaves County, every business counts—it is essential, not just to us but to them. Some of them are angry, some of them are crying because everything that they have invested or had invested into this business, it's about to go away,” Herrington said. "Chaves County is not being defiant against her order and we're trying to work hand-in-hand with her order she put out, especially the one from the health office that talks about essential businesses." 

"Governor, we need your help. We need your help to get people back into business. I thank you for shutting down like you did in the beginning, I think that’s very important, but I also believe that now is the time to get things moving again and people back to work," he added.

“We have big corporations within our community that have been allowed to stay open, which is Walmart, Home Depot—some of these other places that we have are ‘mom and pop’ shops, that do the same type of business that have had to close down,” Herrington said.

Some of the questions on the ‘Plan of Action’ form includes:

1. How has the closure impacted your business and livelihood?

2. What plan do you have in place should you be granted an essential business letter of operation? (Still taking into consideration social distancing and the governor’s restrictions.)

3. What plan of action does your business have in place to sanitize and prepare for your next business day in order to maintain safety of the public should your business open?

However, some people believe it’s doing more harm than good to reopen businesses across the state, while others said “what difference would it make; if people are still afraid to leave their homes?”

“I do know people in the community right now who do not want businesses to be open, they do not want the free flowing public out and about, because they are concerned about health issues and we do know that," Herrington said. “I also know that those that have more of a chance of catching this virus, they stay home. They’re the ones that are staying home, but we also see some of the same people who are calling, saying, ‘We don’t want businesses to open, we don’t want to go back to work’ –the moment they got their stimulus check, they’re at Walmart buying big screen TV’s, play station 4’s and standing in a line of people.”

"It's important to know we are taking into consideration everybody, those who have illnesses—I have grandparents that are in their 90s,” Herrington said. “I have young grandkids, I know what it takes to be safe and I believe our society has now learned what it needs to be safe and I believe it's being done."

In response to Chaves County officials, the governor’s office told KOB 4 in a statement:

“We are grateful to the county leadership, including the sheriff, for doing their part in helping to slow the spread of this virus, for keeping their constituents safe, and for engaging in this conversation in a respectful manner. This is the kind of local leadership that should be commended and celebrated during this awful pandemic. We sympathize with small businesses, we understand their pain. But we have to be able to be safe and protect New Mexicans’ health before we can fully reopen our economy. We want businesses to be able to reopen – but the virus continues to spread, including in Chaves County. That’s why we ask New Mexicans to stay the course and help us slow the spread of the virus as quickly as we can so that New Mexico businesses can reopen when it is safe to do so.”

 Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said she plans to extend her public health order to May 15th.

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