Three more NM counties move to green status

Theresa Davis, Albuquerque Journal, N.M.
·3 min read

Apr. 7—Bernalillo and Sandoval counties are stuck in yellow-level virus restrictions, but Santa Fe County remains turquoise under the latest color-coded map released Wednesday by the state Health Department.

Cibola, San Miguel and Harding counties are now in the green status.

San Juan and Hidalgo counties moved from turquoise to a more restrictive yellow status.

Guadalupe County moved from green to yellow because of an increase in cases and test positivity rates.

Dr. David Scrase, Human Services Department Secretary, said the presence of several virus variants in New Mexico do not appear to be driving new cases.

"We've seen over 60 different variants in New Mexico through the first year of the pandemic," Scrase said. "But none of them actually appear to have a consequence in terms of rate of spread or resistance to treatment, or resistance to vaccine or increased mortality rate or burden of illness."

Bernalillo and Sandoval counties remain in the yellow-level restrictions.

Half of all New Mexico residents have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, and more than 31% of people 16 and older are fully vaccinated.

The state is examining how best to include vaccination rates in the red-to-green framework, Scrase said.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced this week that his state would be reopening its economy by mid-June if current COVID-19 trends hold.

Newsom said California would also be ending its tiered risk-level system and moving away from most restrictions, except for a mask mandate.

Scrase said it is still too early to predict what pandemic restrictions could look like in New Mexico this summer.

"We are really working on some sort of bridge to the pandemic ending," he said. "I don't think we want to throw away the red, yellow, green system. We want to move in the general direction that takes everybody forward, and I think the vaccine is the thing that's going to help us to do that."

New Mexico vaccinated 92 people last week for every new virus case reported.

All Phase 1 residents who are registered have received an NMDOH invitation to a vaccine appointment, said Dr. Tracie Collins, Health Department Secretary.

"If you've been invited and haven't been able to attend an appointment, you will receive another invitation," Collins said.

The state plans to expand vaccine self-scheduling soon to residents 60 years and older.

Currently, residents 75 and older can self-schedule a first vaccine dose. Everyone can self-schedule a booster dose appointment.

Katrina Hotrum-Lopez, Aging and Long-Term Services Department Secretary, said that COVID-19 vaccinations are helping to reduce deaths in New Mexico's nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

"Since the beginning of our vaccine rollout, the average number of daily deaths in all long term-care facilities dropped from 10 deaths a day to less than 1 death a day," she said.

The department uses 5,000 to 6,000 doses each week for vaccination clinics that serve seniors and adults with disabilities.

The state is planning to host 12 additional vaccination clinics for those special populations in southern New Mexico.

New Mexico reported 222 new virus cases and three deaths on Wednesday.

A total of 192,989 people have tested positive for COVID-19, and 3,963 people have died from the disease. More than 174,409 people are reported as recovered.

There are currently 78 people in New Mexico hospitalized with the virus.

The deaths announced Wednesday included a male in his 40s from San Miguel County, a male in his 60s from Grant County and a female in her 100s from Otero County. All of the individuals had been hospitalized.