Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal
The state relies on data from COVID-19 tests to make reopening decisions.
In late August, New Mexico had such a relatively low number of positive test results, a rate of 2.1%, that pandemic restrictions were being relaxed.
By the end of last week, the state’s positivity rate had exceeded 9%. And only 10 of the state’s 33 counties met Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s target of under 5% positivity.
New Mexico, according to the Department of Health website, has been consistently ranked as one of the top five states in the nation for per capita testing.
But last week, New Mexico was one of 26 states with positivity rates above the 5% target deemed necessary to mitigate the spread of the virus. South Dakota had one of the worst rates, with a 40% positivity rate, according to The New York Times.
“The percent positive is a critical measure, because it gives us an indication how widespread infection is in the area where the testing is occurring – and whether levels of testing are keeping up with the levels of disease transmission,” Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 website says.
Increased testing could account for only a portion of the additional hundreds of new cases reported daily in recent weeks, Scrase said.
High positivity rates in New Mexico counties have forced schools to conduct class remotely, and as of last week, only two dozen of the state’s long-term care facilities allowed expanded visitation of residents.
Earlier in October, the positivity rate in Bernalillo County was too high for the University of New Mexico Lobo football team to continue practices and other activities.
Under an agreement with the state, the positivity rate has to be under 5% for 14 days before a game. Another requirement is that athletes be tested no fewer than three times a week and must test negative 24 hours with a polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, test, not a rapid test, before a game or scrimmage.
A planned matchup with San Jose State’s football team was moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. The positivity rate in that state was about 3.2% last week.