Nearly all of New Mexico is turquoise or green

Tony Raap, The Santa Fe New Mexican
·2 min read

Apr. 30—New Mexico is almost all turquoise and green, with only a few specks of yellow, according to an updated color-coded map released Friday by the state.

That means nearly every county will have fewer public health restrictions for at least the next few weeks.

The increase in turquoise and green is largely tied to changes in how the state determines a county's level of COVID-19 risk.

Under the old system, a county would become turquoise — the least restrictive designation — after averaging eight or fewer new cases per 100,000 people and 5 percent or fewer positive tests over two straight reporting periods.

Under revised metrics that took effect Friday, turquoise counties will have an average of 10 or fewer new cases per 100,000 people and 7 percent or fewer positive tests for four consecutive weeks.

And the state now uses vaccination rates in determining whether a county is red, yellow, green or turquoise.

To reach the turquoise level, a county must have a rate of fully vaccinated residents 16 and older that is at or above a state target — which started at 35 percent Friday, will increase to 40 percent May 5 and will rise by 5 percent every other week.

"Our intention here is and has always been to ensure the color-coding of the map — and the associated requirements for each county — continue to match the actual risk level on the ground in each county," Dr. David Scrase, the state's human services secretary, said in a statement.

"As our models show test positivity is likely to become more elastic over time, and as fewer New Mexicans will require COVID-19 testing amid increasing vaccinations, we want to provide counties the assurance that they can continue to progress in accordance with the actual risk they face," he continued.

As of Friday, 24 counties were turquoise, six were green and three were yellow. When the state updated its color-coded map last week, 14 counties were turquoise, three were green, 15 were yellow and one was red. Santa Fe County has been turquoise for more than a month.

Earlier this week, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said the state will end its county-by-county color code system once 60 percent of eligible residents are fully vaccinated. More than 42 percent of New Mexicans already have been inoculated against the coronavirus, and state health officials expect to reach a vaccination rate of 60 percent by the end of June.

"New Mexicans should continue to get vaccinated at the very first opportunity," Dr. Tracie Collins, the state's health secretary, said in a statement. "Not only will it hasten the end of the worst of the pandemic, it will enhance counties' and communities' ability to safely begin more and more commercial and day-to-day activities without endangering public health."