New Mexico governor quarantines entire town over coronavirus outbreak

The governor was responding to a request from the city's mayor.

Updated: May 2, 2020 - 8:13pm

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New Mexico Gov. Michelle Grisham on Friday formally quarantined the entire town of Gallup, a decision she said came at the request of the city's mayor as the municipality battles a rapidly spreading COVID-19 outbreak. 

In a press release on the New Mexico state website, the governor's office announced Grisham had invoked New Mexico's Riot Control Act, which the state said grants her the authority to "enact further temporary restrictions to mitigate the uninhibited spread of COVID-19."

The order shuts down all roads to and from Gallup. Businesses are ordered to be closed from 5 p.m. until 8 a.m. No more than two individuals may ride in a car at the same time. And residents are urged to remain in their homes "except for emergency outings and those essential for health, safety and welfare."

Per state law, emergency declarations of this type only last three days. Grisham's order is set to expire on May 4. 

In her Apr. 30 letter to Grisham, then-Gallup Mayor Jackie McKinney, who that same day was succeeded as mayor by Louis Bonaguidi, urged Grisham to enact the order to counteract the "unprecedented health crisis" the virus posed to her city and the surrounding county. 

McKinley County, in which Gallup is located, has seen 20 deaths from the coronavirus out of a little over 1,000 confirmed cases.