Home News COVID-19 Situation Chaves County reduces COVID-19 spread

Chaves County reduces COVID-19 spread

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County still at Yellow Level

Chaves County will continue to operate with the same public health and business restrictions for at least two more weeks, as a Wednesday update by the state indicates that the area remains categorized in the Yellow Level of the state’s risk-assessment system for determining community spread of the coronavirus.

The news came on the same day that the daily report of the New Mexico Department of Health announced that Chaves County had seven new cases of COVID-19 and two new deaths.

Risk-level data improves

Chaves County improved both its positivity rate and its daily case count during the Feb. 23 to March 8 period, according to the information provided Wednesday by the New Mexico Department of Health. But the change was not enough for it to move beyond the “high risk” or Yellow Level.

The positivity rate is now 2.37%. That compares to 3.22% for the prior 14-day period of Feb. 9 to Feb. 22. The average number of new daily cases per 100,000 population over two weeks dropped from 11.8 to its current 9.1.

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To advance to the Green Level, or medium risk category, for the next update on March 24, the county needs a positivity rate of 5% or lower and an average new daily case count per 100,000 population of 8 or less. Given Chaves County’s approximate population, the daily count needed for Green Level equates to about 5.2 cases a day.

A local public health official said it was good news for the area that he was pleased to see.

“From what I can see, comparing this to the previous two weeks, it seems to have improved significantly,” said Jimmy Masters, southeast region director for the New Mexico Department of Health. “I am glad to see the positivity rate numbers going down, which means fewer cases.”

He credits the improvement to continued testing and increased vaccinations in the county. The Department of Health indicates that 12,327 people, or about 24.8% of the local population, are either fully or partially vaccinated.

The Health Department indicated that 13 of the state’s 33 counties had improved outlooks over the past two weeks and entered less restrictive categories. Four recorded increased community spread and entered more restrictive categories.

Chaves County is one of 18 counties in New Mexico to be at the Yellow Level. Seven are now in the Green Level, while seven are at the Turquoise Level, the least restrictive level that counties can enter after they have been at the Green Level for two consecutive reporting periods. Only one county in the state, Guadalupe County, remains at the Red Level, considered very high risk.

At the Yellow Level, bars, clubs and indoor recreational spaces cannot operate. Food and drink establishments can have a maximum of 33% indoor occupancy if they are New Mexico Safe Certified, while they are allowed outdoor occupancy of up to 75%. They must close by 10 p.m. each night.

Businesses defined as essential can operate without capacity limits, but are advised to only keep essential functions going. Most other businesses identified by the state as non-essential can operate at 33% maximum indoor capacity. Gatherings are limited to 10 people or 80 vehicles.

Detailed information about the public health restrictions in each level is available on the “Red to Green Framework” section of the New Mexico Health Department website, https://cv.nmhealth.org.

Two more deaths in county

Two men from Chaves County, one in his 60s and one in his 80s, were among the nine people who died due to causes attributed to COVID-19, according to the Wednesday state report. Both men had been hospitalized.

The deaths bring the county total of COVID-related deaths since March 2020 to 156 and the state’s total to 3,839.

Seven new cases were reported locally for Wednesday as well, among the 257 new cases in 24 counties in the state on Wednesday.

Total COVID cases now number 187,487 for the state and 8,672 for Chaves County. Those considered recovered in New Mexico number 160,142 (85.4% of the total cases). For the county, the 7,906 described as recovered are 91.2% of the case total.

The state also indicated that 134 people with COVID are now in New Mexico hospitals.

Cabinet secretaries with the Health Department; the Aging and Long-Term Services Department; the Children, Youth and Families Department; and the Human Services Department will hold a news conference at 3 p.m. today, which marks a year since the first COVID-19 case was reported in New Mexico. The event will be streamed live on the Human Services Department Facebook page.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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