COVID-19

Taos County Sheriff's Office educates drivers at COVID-19 informational checkpoints

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Members of the Taos County Sheriff's Office, who manned a checkpoint at the New Mexico-Colorado border on Wednesday (April 8) to inform drivers about COVID-19, saw over 191 vehicles, 82 of which were from out of state.

"These are not traffic checkpoints. These are not enforcement checkpoints," said Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe. "This is just us handing out information about COVID-19 and trying to judge how many out-of-state plates we still have moving around."

Of the vehicles stopped on Wednesday, that would be a little over 40 percent, no small proportion in light of orders from the state discouraging out-of-state travel, and even enforcing a mandatory 14-day quarantine for air travelers to reduce the risk of introducing more cases of the virus from other parts of the world.

As of Wednesday, Taos County had 14 confirmed positive case of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus rapidly spreading throughout the globe. The state had seen a total of 865 cases, with 17 deaths tied to the virus.

Travel restrictions and information regarding hand washing, social distancing, staying at home as much as possible and wearing masks to protect oneself and others are all meant to slow the spread of the virus that places roughly one in five in a hospital bed.

Hogrefe said his own team is now taking those restrictions seriously and are wearing cloth masks crafted and donated by local seamstresses. Members of the office are also doing what they can to encourage the public to do the same. Hogrefe said his office will be operating another checkpoint on Thursday (April 9), this time, on the county's southern border.

"Essentially we are just asking them if they are aware of the New Mexico regulations and then handing them an informational flyer," Hogrefe said, adding that a number of drivers seemed to not be aware of some of the information they were providing.

Hogrefe did add that the overall number of car collisions in the county has gone down, as sign that drivers in Taos County are being more selective about when and for what reason they're choosing to hit the road.

Overall emergency call volumes of other types, he said, have remained steady amid the pandemic, Hogrefe added.

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