NM's COVID metrics continue to improve - Albuquerque Journal

NM’s COVID metrics continue to improve

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

The outlook for businesses reopening amid the COVID-19 pandemic in New Mexico continued to improve Wednesday, with only one county backsliding into the red, most restrictive, level.

The latest state reopening map showed 13 counties’ health metrics improving to permit fewer restrictions on maximum capacity at stores and restaurants. As the only red-level county, Guadalupe County must scale back operations of businesses and restaurants because of its increased virus case counts and positivity rate.

The state’s color-coded tiered reopening plan considers the per capita daily incidence of new COVID-19 cases and average test positivity within county borders to determine the level of public health risk for each county.

The results are released every two weeks.

In the latest comparison, Bernalillo County remained in the yellow risk level, but Santa Fe County got the green light to permit its businesses to operate under fewer COVID-19 customer capacity restrictions.

Sandoval and Valencia counties failed to improve enough over the past two weeks in their COVID-19 health metrics and are still in the yellow category.

Bernalillo, Sandoval and Valencia counties all had slightly lower new case counts per capita but fell short of the eight or fewer cases per 100,000 required to advance to green status.

However, three counties that had been “hot spots” for COVID-19 cases over the past year, McKinley, San Juan and Lea, joined Hidalgo, Roosevelt and Socorro counties in the green category, which allows for 50% maximum capacity at restaurants and essential retail spaces, and 25% maximum capacity in bars and clubs.

The state’s second-most populous county, Doña Ana County, emerged from the red, very-high risk status of two weeks ago to yellow, which sets maximum capacity for essential retail spaces and indoor dining at 33%.

Under the new turquoise level, Los Alamos joined the more rural Quay, Catron, DeBaca, Harding, Sierra and Union counties that have maintained low case counts and positive test percentages for four weeks.

That designation imposes the fewest restrictions on business by allowing 75% maximum capacity for dining and close contact businesses, and 33% maximum capacity for indoor bars and clubs.

Among the state’s 33 counties, three counties in addition to Guadalupe had worsening metrics. Mora, Taos and Torrance counties each moved back to yellow status from green two weeks ago.

A county must have both a test positivity rate of 5% or less and no more than 8 cases per 100,000 to achieve green status. Yellow status requires either one of those benchmarks be achieved, while red level signifies neither has been met.

Counties experiencing a rise in virus cases and forced to move back to a more restrictive level have two days to begin operating under increased restrictions on capacity.

Meanwhile, the state reported 257 new cases on Wednesday, bringing the total to 187,487 so far in the pandemic. An additional nine COVID-19 deaths were reported, taking total deaths to date to 3,839.

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