Home News COVID-19 Situation State officials ease some restrictions on youth sports

State officials ease some restrictions on youth sports

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Traditional fall activities including youth sports practice can get underway Friday in a limited fashion under revised health orders announced Thursday afternoon by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

The governor also announced 159 new COVID-19 cases in the state and four deaths and emphasized the importance of increasing testing to meet all of the state’s gating criteria for further openings during Thursday’s press conference, which was livestreamed on Facebook.

Youth sports conditioning and skill development — in groups of 10 or fewer — are among the activities that are allowed starting Friday under the revised health orders. Competitive contact play is still prohibited.

Swimming pools will be able to allow up to 10 people for swimming lessons and classes. Ice skating rinks will also be able to open for hockey and figure skating, also with up to 10 people at a time.

The state health department will soon issue guidelines for activities such as corn mazes and haunted houses, Grisham said.

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Starting Oct. 1, overnight camping — again in groups of no more than 10 — at state parks that are open will be allowed.

Masks will be required for all activities except for those taking place in swimming pools.

The revisions will be in effect through mid-October.

Grisham had praise for New Mexicans in helping the state reach many of the criteria the state established for reopening. Statewide, the seven-day positivity rate is 2.16%, with a seven-day average of 90 new daily cases. The targets are 5% and 168 cases, respectively.

The rate of transmission — or how many people can be infected by one person with the virus — is at 0.89, below the target of 1.05.

In contact tracing, it’s taking 19 hours to isolate a person who has tested positive and 29 hours to trace and inform the people they have come into contact with. The goals for those criteria are 24 hours and 36 hours, respectively.

“We believe that we are trending exactly in a way that we are hoping to and continue to be cautiously optimistic that we have flattened the curve again and are moving in the right direction,” Grisham said.

However, she said more testing is needed.

Thursday’s report of 159 new COVID-19 cases was the result of 7,700 tests in one day, Grisham said. The state’s goal is an average of 5,000 tests a day, but the rolling seven-day average is 4,600 as of Monday.

“The more testing we do, the more we’ll know and the quicker we can isolate individuals who have COVID so we don’t transmit COVID to someone else,” she said.

The state’s resources of personnel and supplies for testing are good, she said.

“That means we’re not getting enough people. If you are symptomatic, don’t think you have the flu or something else or a cold. Get tested. We need to know, you need to know. We want to be aggressive in our testing approach. We need New Mexicans to help us with this,” she said.

Grisham specifically spoke about the higher positivity rates in southeast New Mexico. Under the latest two-week averages posted to the New Mexico Health Department’s COVID-19 dashboard, Chaves County has both the highest cases per 100,000 and the highest testing positivity rate in the state.

The latest figures, averaged between Sept. 2 and Sept. 15, show Chaves County with 26 cases per 100,000 — up from 20 during the previous period — and a positivity rate of 8.6%, up from 7.5%.

Five other counties are classified in the “red zone” of having eight or more average daily cases and a testing positivity rate of 5% or higher: Eddy, Lea, Roosevelt, Luna and Catron.

Counties that have less than eight average daily cases per 100,000 people and a positivity rate less than 5% are in the “green zone” and allowed to open schools for the hybrid model of learning and offer visitation options for long-term care facilities.

Lujan Grisham emphasized the importance of lowering the positivity rate.

“This is the indicator that, over a period of time, that we do have room here to introduce risk without creating unintended consequences, which means too many people in hospitals, too many people with infections,” she said.

In Roswell, the state health department will offer drive-thru testing from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Sunday at its parking lot at 200 E. Chisum St. Normally, the department offers the screenings from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. weekdays.

Those wishing to be tested at the health department Sunday or any day need to pre-register online at https://cvtestreg.nmhealth.org. All testing is free of charge.

According to the state health department’s website, testing is also available in Roswell at La Casa Family Health Center, 200 W. Wilshire Blvd. or 1511 S. Grand Ave.; and Pathology Consultants of New Mexico, 600 N. Richardson Ave. More information about hours and requirements can be found on the state health department’s website or by calling the facilities.

Chaves County had 17 of the state’s new COVID-19 cases reported Thursday, bringing the overall total to 993. Statewide, the total is 27,199. That includes an adjustment for one case in Santa Fe County found to be a duplicate.

The four deaths reported Thursday were a man in his 60s from Bernalillo County, a man in his 70s from Lea County, a man in his 40s from McKinley County and a man in his 60s from Santa Fe County. All had been hospitalized and all but one had underlying health conditions.

The total number of deaths related to COVID-19 in New Mexico is now at 836, including seven from Chaves County.

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com. 

To keep up with local coverage of the coronavirus, go to rdrnews.com/category/news/covid-19-situation/.

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