Governor Plans to Screen Truckers Entering State for Fever, Says National Guard Will Enforce
Santa Fe, NM – New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is currently working on a plan to screen travelers, including all truckers, entering the State over fears they will spread COVID-19.
In a press briefing on Friday, April 10, Gov. Grisham said she is “nervous” that travelers infected with coronavirus will bring it into New Mexico.
“Everything is on the table,” she said of potential new screening measures. “I will do anything I need to do that saves lives.”
In particular, Gov. Grisham expressed concern about interstate truckers, who she acknowledged “we need to deliver groceries, commodities and supplies.”
That’s why she says she is working on a plan to screen truckers coming into the State.
She explained it this way.
“We wanted to do temperatures as [truckers] were coming into the State, and if somebody had an elevated temperature, we wanted to make sure they got tested and that we had somebody else like the [National] Guard who would either do an escort or meet them at their delivery site, so that they did not get out of the truck,” she said.
So, what is preventing Gov. Grisham from immediately implementing the new screening measures?
“It has been incredibly challenging to get the… I call them… temperature guns, so that you can do that at a safe distance with personnel that can gather that information,” she stated. “We’ve been unable to secure enough to meet the needs in our long-term care facilities, our correctional facilities and in our healthcare facilities.”
However, she vowed to “keep trying.”
Until the State can obtain the needed equipment, Gov. Grisham says officials will be closely monitoring truckers.
“In the meantime, we ask them when they stop if they have any symptoms or signs, and if they do, we still ask if we can follow them and unload these trucks,” she advised.
She’s also considering a host of new measures for residents of New Mexico as well.
“I would consider curfews, using cell phone data and restricting what’s identified as an essential business and how you participate in going to an essential business,” she said.
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Additionally, she is considering “road blocks” to prevent travelers from visiting small communities attractive to campers.
“I think we can do more,” she stated.
Her new comments come after she extended and expanded a shelter-in-place order on Monday, April 6.
The new order extends the restrictive measures until April 30, and requires car dealerships, payday lenders and liquor stores to cease in-person operations.
“New Mexicans, I implore you to honor your social contract with your state. These orders are not friendly suggestions; heed them and protect yourselves, your families and your communities. If these directives are not heeded, further restrictions will be enacted,” she said.
Trucking Stakeholders Push Back
If Gov. Grisham does move forward with her plan to screen truckers, it is likely trucking stakeholders will not greet the new initiatives with open arms.
Just last week in Utah, Governor Gary Herbert came under tremendous pressure from the American Trucking Associations, Utah Trucking Association, Nevada Trucking Association, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for subjecting truckers to newly implemented COVID-19 screening measures.
Gov. Herbert’s order requires all individuals entering Utah from out of state who are over the age 18 to complete a COVID-19 travel declaration containing a series of health-related questions.
The Nevada Trucking Association quickly blasted the new policy.
“If you think that this is unconstitutional you are right,” a statement said. “This is an impediment to interstate commerce which was one of the main reasons we jettisoned the Articles of Confederation and adopted our Constitution way back in 1789.”
About 24 hours later, Gov. Herbert exempted truckers, along with other essential personnel such as airline employees and first responders from the inbound travel requirements.
This will be an issue to watch in the coming days and you can be confident TransportationNation.com will bring you the latest developments.
Photo courtesy of NMDOT