Invoking the state’s Riot Control Act on Friday, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham essentially locked down the city of Gallup.
All roads into Gallup were closed at 12 p.m. on Friday “to mitigate the uninhibited spread of COVID-19 in that city.”
“Vehicles may only have a maximum of two individuals. Residents of the city should remain at home except for emergency outings and those essential for health, safety and welfare,” a media release from the Democratic governor’s office read.
The city of 22,000 people, located 100 miles west of Albuquerque, has been hit hard by the coronavirus, CBS News reported.
As of Saturday morning, 1,064 of the 3,513 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Mexico were in McKinley County, where Gallup is located, according to the data from Johns Hopkins.
“The virus is running amok there. It must be stopped, and stricter measures are necessary,” Lujan Grisham said.
“A problem in one part of our state, with a virus this dangerous and this contagious, is a problem for our entire state.”
The Riot Control Act gives the governor the authority to prohibit people from being out on public streets and can limit the use of certain streets and highways, according to the media release.
“I recognize this request is unusual and constitutes a drastic measure, and the emergency powers set out under the Riot Control Act should be invoked sparingly,” Gallup Mayor Louis Bonaguidi said.
“However, the COVID-19 outbreak in the city of Gallup is a crisis of the highest order. Immediate action is necessary.”
The emergency order was put in place in response to near-identical letters from outgoing Gallup Mayor Jackie McKinney and Bonaguidi, his successor.
“The virus has caused many deaths, stretched medical facilities and resources to their capacity, and adversely impacted the welfare of the City of Gallup,” McKinney wrote on Thursday, hours before his term officially ended.
“Our community is unable to adequately address the outbreak without the imposition of certain restrictions necessary to regulate social distancing, public gatherings, sales of good, and the use of public streets.”
The order in Gallup will expire at 12 p.m. on Monday, May 4.
The governor has also acted to extend the state’s emergency public health order through May 15.
Elsewhere in the state, Grants Mayor Martin Hicks and a group of supporters rallied on Monday to encourage business owners to defy the governor’s lockdown order.
“The governor is killing the state over a little bug,” he said, according to CBS News.