- Associated Press - Friday, June 26, 2020

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Concerns about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic have forced officials Friday to cancel this year’s New Mexico State Fair, making it the latest casualty in a string of other big-ticket events that have been indefinitely postponed or scrapped altogether.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham raised concerns Thursday about a recent uptick in COVID-19 infections in the state, indicating that it would likely be a no-go for funnel cakes, turkey legs and the rest of the pageantry that makes up the annual September spectacle.

Dan Mourning, the fair’s general manager, confirmed in a video message Friday that the 11-day show wouldn’t happen.

He called it a difficult decision, saying no one could have imagined just months ago how everyday life would change because of the virus. He said the safety of staff, vendors and the community was being put above all else.

“Like everything during the last few months, these decisions are complex,” he said, outlining the vast network of vendors, sponsors, livestock contractors, entertainers, amusement ride operators, rodeo athletes and other competitors who make the fair what it is.



Other large events including the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, the Gathering of Nations Powwow and Santa Fe’s popular summer art markets also have been canceled because of the pandemic.

While the state’s stay-at-home order remains in place, Lujan Grisham’s administration has allowed for some businesses to reopen at limited capacities. But she warned this week that further openings will depend on whether people adhere to the public safety guidelines issued by state health officials and if the rate of spread comes back down.

The closures and cancellations have resulted in an untold loss in economic activity, with some small business owners being forced to permanently shut their doors, the grinding to a halt of the tourism industry and local governments losing out on tax revenues.

Republican Party chairman Steve Pearce is among those who have been critical of the governor’s reopening plan.

“Her decisions remain inequitable, illogical and will endanger the future of even more businesses and livelihoods,” he said Friday. “Her mass-gathering policies have now ruined our tourism industry and the fate of other industries, like wine, hangs in the balance. Each day more small businesses shut down.”

Lujan Grisham on Thursday acknowledged that small businesses “have struggled in ways we can’t even begin to comprehend,” but that her decisions are rooted in trying to minimize spread.

“This is going to require more sacrifice,” she said.

Positive COVID-19 tests have surpassed 11,400. State health officials on Friday reported an additional 225 cases, marking another consecutive day of increases. McKinley, Bernalillo and Dona Ana counties accounted for the bulk of the additional cases.

The death toll stands at 489, with four additional deaths reported Friday. That included a woman in her 20s from McKinley County who had underlying conditions.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough. But for some - especially older adults and people with existing health problems - it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

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