Home News COVID-19 Situation Three local COVID-19 deaths reported

Three local COVID-19 deaths reported


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Governor announces ‘Red to Green’ reopening framework

Three local residents were among 28 statewide deaths attributed to COVID-19 reported in New Mexico Monday, a grim announcement that came as Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham detailed a tiered county-by-county plan to determine COVID-19 restrictions.

The New Mexico Department of Health reported three women from Chaves County — one who was in her 30s and hospitalized, and two in their 50s who were both hospitalized had underlying conditions — had died from the virus. As of Monday, deaths from the virus among Chaves County inhabitants now total 42.

Statewide deaths from the virus have now reached 1,568. Along with Monday’s new deaths, 13 more COVID-19 fatalities were recorded Sunday, none of which were individuals from Chaves County.

Local cases of the virus also continued to rise, with 102 reported in the county Monday and 135 Sunday. New Mexico as a whole recorded daily totals of 1,684 Monday and 1,443 Sunday.

To date, Chaves County has accounted for 4,767 of the state’s 97,095 COVID-19 positive test results. In all, 32,569 of the state’s cases since March have been classified as recovered from the virus.

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Some 876 individuals were recorded Monday as being hospitalized with the virus throughout New Mexico, the Health Department states.

Red-to-green framework

Monday’s numbers come as the state is scheduled to emerge Wednesday from two weeks of heightened restrictions on business operations — often referred to by the state as a “reset” — in the wake of soaring rates of COVID-19 positive test results, deaths and hospitalizations.

In a remote news conference streamed live on Facebook Monday afternoon, Lujan Grisham elaborated on plans for the state’s new “red-to-green” plan to ease COVID-19 limits on businesses operations.

Lujan Grisham stated during the conference the new method will afford counties more flexibility, if they reduce transmission of the virus.

“So this is what we believe is a mechanism that will allow New Mexico to sort of move through the virus, protect New Mexicans, provide a little bit of more economic certainty for the entire state as a whole,” she said.

The new framework will go into effect Wednesday when some of the most stringent restrictions are eased under a new emergency public health order.

Under the new method, each of New Mexico’s 33 counties will be placed into one of three categories: red level (“very high risk”), yellow level (“high risk”) and green level (“medium risk”).

A county’s designation will be based on the two-week average of incident rates per capita — the average of cases per 100,000 inhabitants over a two-week time span; and positivity rate — the average percentage of tests administered over a two-week reporting period which come back positive.

Counties deemed “red level” will be those with an incident rate of greater than 8 per 100,000 inhabitants and a positivity rate of more than 5%. According to Department of Health data recorded between Nov. 10 and 24, the last period for which information is available, Chaves County has an incident rate of 151 per 100,000 inhabitants and a positivity rate of 23%, and is in the red.

Lujan Grisham said counties in the red have case levels and positivity rates that are too high.

In red level counties, food and drink establishments will be prohibited from offering indoor dining but can offer outdoor dining at 25% of maximum capacity, with establishments serving alcohol required to close by 9 p.m.

Essential retail spaces and most other businesses will be limited to 25% of maximum occupancy or 75 customers at one time, whichever is smaller. Close contact businesses will be limited to 25% occupancy or 10 customers, whichever is smaller.

Counties designated as red-level will have mass gatherings limited to five people or 10 vehicles. Houses of worship are limited to 25% maximum capacity.

Yellow level counties are those which meet one of the two metrics: their infection rates are at or below 8 per 100,000 inhabitants or their positivity rate is 5% or less.

Food and drink establishments In yellow level counties can provide indoor dining at 25% of maximum capacity and outdoor dining at 75% of maximum capacity. Establishments that serve alcohol must close at 10 p.m. Essential retail spaces and most other businesses can operate at 25% of maximum capacity or 125 customers at one time, whichever is smaller.

Close contact businesses can operate at 25% maximum capacity or 20 customers at once, whichever is smaller.

The cap on mass gatherings in a yellow level county will be 10 people or 25 vehicles.

Green level counties will see the most relaxed level of restrictions. The bulk of businesses will be limited to 50% of maximum capacity. Food and drink establishments can offer indoor dining at 50% of maximum capacity and outdoor dining at 75% of maximum capacity. Establishments serving alcohol will not have to close at a designated time.

Close contact businesses will also be able to operate at 50% capacity.

Mass gatherings in green level counties will be limited to 20 persons or 100 vehicles.

Beginning Wednesday, a color-coded map posted on the Department of Health’s website will be updated, and each county’s color-designation as well as its incident rate and positivity rate will be updated.

When a county moves to a less restrictive level, they will be able to go instantly to less limited levels of regulation.

“As you move to a least restrictive environment, you are ready to go,” Lujan Grisham said.

By contrast, if a county goes to a level of more stringent regulations — yellow or red — they must begin operating under those standards within 48 hours.

“So we basically tier it out at different levels using this red to green criteria to move the state as cohesively as we can together, but to also allow opportunities. And we are going to empower local governments and constituents to move more closely together so we can move the entire state to green,” Lujan Grisham said.

“The goal isn’t to be moving through them all the time. The goal is to be steadily moving towards green,” she added.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301 or breakingnews@rdrnews.com.

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

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