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New Mexico spends $66,000 asking neighboring states to wear a mask

Advertisements target big cities in Arizona and Texas, with increasing COVID cases
The New Mexico Department of Tourism and New Mexico Safe Promise ran ads in Arizona and Texas asking visitors to follow the state’s health and travel restrictions, which are stricter than those in some neighboring states.

FARMINGTON – New Mexico, which relies heavily on summer tourism, is asking neighboring states Arizona and Texas to be aware of the state’s COVID-19 restrictions before planning a visit.

The New Mexico State Tourism Department spent about $66,000 on a series of advertisements placed in major cities in Arizona and Texas, states that have seen an increase in coronavirus cases in the past few weeks. The printed advertisements ran in six major newspapers in Tucson, Phoenix, Austin, San Antonio, Houston and Dallas on July 3 and July 5, and included images of New Mexico landmarks.

The ads informed potential visitors they would have to comply with New Mexico’s efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, including wearing a mask and quarantining for 14 days.

“We ask you, as one of our closest neighbors, to join us in making the promise. It’s nothing complicated, just a few simple guidelines like social distancing and wearing a face mask,” the advertisements read.

The ads were part of the New Mexico Safe Promise. Its mission statement says it invites “everyone to make a personal promise to follow COVID-Safe Practices to make New Mexico the safest place for our families, co-workers and guests.”

In 2018, 37.5 million visitors spent $7.1 billion in New Mexico, according to the New Mexico Tourism Department, sustaining 8.5% of jobs statewide.

Arizona and Texas recently have reported surges in coronavirus cases.

On Friday, Arizona reported 4,221 new cases and 44 new deaths, raising the number of cases to 116,892 and deaths to 2,082, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. Ventilators and ICU beds being used by COVID-19 patients also hit a new high this week at 53%, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. Hospital data reported to the state showed 88% of inpatient beds and 89% of ICU beds were in use Friday.

The number of cases also has risen in Texas. This week has marked the state’s deadliest week during the pandemic, and the state has seen 27 consecutive days of record-setting increases in the virus-related hospitalizations, according to NBC.

Both states have refrained from closing businesses or instituting public health restrictions. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on July 1 announced a 14-day quarantine for most people entering New Mexico. And on Thursday, she reimposed a ban on indoor dining and restrictions on high school football and contact sports for fall.

The tightened restrictions come as the state has also seen an increase in coronavirus cases and deaths. In a 16-day period, the average number of new cases each day increased 79%, Human Services Secretary David Scrase said in a news conference Thursday.

The New Mexico Tourism Department website has a notice posted for all travelers: “Face coverings are required for all visitors and residents in New Mexico,” it says. “The state will increase enforcement of the face-covering requirement, which may include a $100 fine for those in violation of the mandate.”

lweber@durangoherald.com

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