An Estancia restaurant is closed temporarily because of contact with a woman who tested positively for COVID-19; the woman was arrested in the early hours of April 10, according to Estancia Police Chief Vernon Cobbs.
The total number of positive cases in Torrance County is now 12, as of April 16, and a testing facility has been set up in Estancia.
“I don’t have any ill will towards her, whatsoever,” said Kathy Swope, owner of Mama Bears Cafe, where the incident occurred. “My heart goes out to her and I pray for her.”
Swope said the woman had been in the restaurant a few weeks earlier saying she had the virus. She was asked to leave because of her behavior toward the staff, which she did, Swope said.
When the woman returned April 9, she was not wearing any personal protection and said that she had the virus and that she also had cancer. Swope said she also said she needed help contacting 911 in Albuquerque.
Swope said she wasn’t able to contact Albuquerque, but did reach out to the Estancia Police Department.
Cobbs responded to the call. The chief said he escorted the woman out, maintaining social distancing, and asked her to return home. It was the second time that day he had responded to a call about a woman telling people she had the virus and cancer, as he had responded to the Speedway first.
After getting the call from Mama Bears and arriving to the scene, Cobbs discovered it was the same woman from the gas station earlier in the day. He contacted the Torrance County emergency manager and with their help learned that her name is on the list for positive cases in Torrance County.
Cobbs said he then went back to the restaurant to tell Swope that the woman was positive for COVID-19.
Later in the day on April 9, the woman returned to Mama Bears again, “slamming the door so hard it rattled the windows,” Swope said. Estancia Police were called in again.
Estancia Police and State Police went looking for her, found her and arrested her around midnight, Cobbs said. She was arrested by State Police and taken to the Behavioral Health Center in Las Vegas, according to State Police spokesperson Mark Soriano.
The woman was charged with violating a health order and public nuisance, Soriano said.
Swope said her restaurant has been deep cleaned, and she decided to close for 10 days, although the Health Department recommended at least 14 days. She said the restaurant can’t afford to be closed any longer than that.
She said at the time of the incident there were only a few employees in the store, and that she had the most contact with the woman.
Those interested in supporting Mama Bears can purchase a gift certificate, or tune in to Mama Bears Facebook on April 18 at 6 p.m., when her son will be performing a concert and accepting tips to be donated to the restaurant.
There have been 44 deaths in New Mexico from COVID-19. Statewide, there are 491 cases in Bernalillo County; 79 cases in Santa Fe County; and 12 cases in Torrance County.
As of April 16, there are 90 people hospitalized in New Mexico for COVID-19, and 353 cases who have recovered.
The “stay at home” public health order remains in effect through April 30.
New Mexicans who report symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath should call 855-600-3543.
Increased statewide testing capacity means that testing “may now be considered” for testing: asymptomatic people in contact with someone who tested positive; asymptomatic residents of nursing homes; asymptomatic people in congregant settings like detention centers; and others. More information is available at newmexico.gov.