Home News COVID-19 Situation Chaves County reaches Turquoise Level

Chaves County reaches Turquoise Level

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Chaves County joined nine other counties in New Mexico in advancing Wednesday to the Turquoise Level of the state’s COVID-19 risk assessment system.

Twenty of the state’s 33 counties are now at the lowest risk level for spread of the virus, according to the New Mexico Department of Health.

While the county’s average number of cases and test positivity for March 23 to April 5 actually increased slightly from the previous two-week period, they stayed under the targets of the gating criteria for the Green Level. Counties that reach the medium-risk Green Level and maintain that level for two consecutive two-week periods move to the low-risk Turquoise Level.

Chaves County’s average daily cases per 100,000 people for the latest assessment was 5.3, up from 4, and the test positivity rate was 2.33%, up a full percentage point.

To maintain the Turquoise Level, the county will have to keep the daily cases below eight per 100,000 people and a positivity rate of 5% or less.

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The move immediately further eases restrictions on business and activities in the county, with one of the biggest changes being limits on mass gatherings increasing from 20 people to 150.

Places of lodging that have completed the state’s Safe Certified program no longer have occupancy restrictions. Those that are not certified can increase occupancy from 40% to 50%.

Bars and clubs can now offer indoor service at 33% occupancy and increase outdoor occupancy from 25% to 75%. Indoor service is not permitted under higher-risk levels.

Other businesses and activities that were limited to 50% occupancy, such as indoor dining, retail, close contact businesses and houses of worship, can increase occupancy to 75%.

Large entertainment venues can increase indoor capacity from 25% to 33%.

Statewide, no counties are in the Red Level, but three counties regressed to higher risk. San Juan and Hidalgo counties went from Turquoise to Yellow and Guadalupe went from Green to Yellow.

Harding and Cibola counties are also in the Green Level, and 10 counties are in the Yellow Level.

In vaccinations, New Mexico continues to lead the country with 50% of residents having received at least one dose, Secretary of Health Dr. Tracie Collins said in a livestreamed press conference Wednesday.

The state received 131,200 doses of vaccine this week.

Collins said due to a manufacturing mistake in Maryland that affected the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the state is scheduled to receive fewer doses next week, 109,950.

Secretary of Aging and Long Term Services Katrina Hotrum-Lopez said in the press conference that 77% of residents in nursing homes have chosen to receive the vaccine, while 85% in assisted living facilities have. The number of daily deaths in those facilities has dropped from an average of 10 per day to less than one, she said.

While the rest of the country has seen an increase in the number of daily cases over the last two weeks, that has not been the case in New Mexico, Dr. David Scrase, secretary of Human Services, said.

Part of that increase is due to variants of the virus, especially the B.1.1.7 variant, known as the UK variant since it was first identified in the United Kingdom.

Only 39 cases of that variant have been identified in New Mexico, Scrase said, while other states have seen more. Texas has had 414, Colorado 894, Utah 225 and Arizona 121. No instances of other variants have been identified in New Mexico.

In its daily case report for Wednesday, the health department announced 222 new cases of COVID-19 in 24 counties. Chaves County had four new cases. Bernalillo had the most with 60, followed by Doña Ana County at 38, Sandoval County at 28 and San Juan County at 17. All other counties had 10 or fewer cases.

The total number of cases in the state is 192,989 including 8,763 in Chaves County.

There were three deaths related to the virus in the state. They were a man in his 60s from Grant County with underlying health conditions, a woman 100 or older from Otero County and a man in his 40s from San Miguel County who had underlying health conditions. All had been hospitalized.

The total number of deaths in the state is 3,963 including 165 in Chaves County.

As of Wednesday, 78 people are hospitalized in the state for COVID-19, the lowest number since the end of September.

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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