While it's too early to say New Mexico is "out of the woods," when it comes to COVID-19, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said today, "it is definitely in the right direction."

Case numbers are dropping and the state is meeting five of its seven gating criteria for reopening. The effective rate of transmission has dropped to 0.72, with a target of 1.05. The state is testing approximately 7,500 people daily, far above its goal of 5,000. The test positivity rate is below the 5% target at 3.5% and hospitals have both adequate ICU beds and Personal Protective Equipment. The final two criteria, which have not yet been met, involve contact tracing, but those, also, are coming closer to being met. Note that the spread rate should be in green in the image below to indicate it is meeting the criteria.

"This is a really critical measure," Human Services Secretary David Scrase said regarding the contact tracing criteria, in which officials aim to contact people who test positive within 24 hours to ensure they are isolated, and contact anyone with whom they have been in contact within 36 hours. Currently, those contacts are happening within 32 and 49 hours, respectively. With approximately half of the state's cases as asymptomatic, contacting and isolating them "is how we actually stop the spread," he said, noting New Mexico's dropping case numbers indicate that in addition to people wearing masks and socially isolating, contact tracing is working.

The latest news came as the state reported 212 new positive tests for COVID-19, bringing the statewide total number of cases thus far to 21,773. Of those, the health department has designated 8,950 as recovered.

Lujan Grisham also announced two more deaths; there have been 669 fatalities.

As of today, 138 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 and 28 people are on ventilators.*

A complete report on today's figures is available at the end of this story.

With New Mexico's dropping numbers comes good news for people with family and loved ones in long-term care facilities. Starting next week, nursing homes and other congregate facilities will be allowed to have in-person visits if they are in counties with less than a 5% test positivity rate and fewer than 10 average daily cases per 100,000 residents. Of the state's 33 counties, 21 currently meet that criteria.

In addition, facilities must be free of active COVID-19 cases, and visitors themselves must be healthy. Those visits will occur outside, with social distancing, PPE and either through open windows or with plexiglas visitation stations.

"It's really important to us that we get this right," Cabinet Secretary for Aging and Long-Term Services Department Katrina Hotrum-Lopez said. "This is a very, very critical population…very vulnerable population, so making sure we are opening slowly and that we don't have an invitation for all facilities to make sure that we're doing this right is really important."

New Mexico has close to 10,000 residents in such facilities, split closely between nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Of those facilities, 6.1% have had one or more cases of COVID-19, with nursing homes running higher for such cases.

At the beginning of the pandemic, Scrase said, New Mexico ranked in the top five or 10 states for numbers of cases in nursing homes and fatalities. He said officials suspected this was due in some part to other states not reporting. Recent data, he said, shows  "that hypothesis probably is true," because now "we are doing a great job" after closing facilities to visitors early on. One recent study ranks New Mexico now at 32 for rate of cases per 1,000 residents; another at 45 for death rate.

Lujan Grisham, whose mother is in a nursing home, said the new guidelines mean "outdoor is an opportunity for my mother to leave her assisted living…go outside in this beautiful weather." The visits will still require no physical contact, she said. "I'm looking forward to meeting my mom outside, driving to an outside location at a dining area and having a libation with my mother, maybe it's a glass of champagne to celebrate that we're together. We're a long way from that," she said. "This is not going to be easy. Without a vaccination, this is one of the highest risk groups. We think we can do it right—otherwise we wouldn't do it at all—but it really is dependent on how much of the virus is out and about in a particular part of the state."

Earlier in the day, the governor also issued a revised executive order exempting New Mexico residents who leave the state for urgent medical and family needs from mandatory self-quarantine. New Mexico residents who have left the state for fewer than 24 hours for parenting responsibilities also do not have to self-quarantine.

Officials also urged New Mexicans today to not fall behind with their own medical care, nor with children's vaccinations. "Please don't delay your care," Scrase said, noting "we have a lot of tragic anecdotes" of people not attending to other medical issues and suffering as a result.

While the overall picture is positive right now, officials stressed the need for residents to stay the course of mask-wearing and social distancing.

"We're in a stone's throw of getting our kids back to school," Scrase said. "It's only going to work if we pull together,…I would just beg people to start planning now for a nice stay-at-home Labor Day weekend with the people you live with."

Lujan Grisham noted that in driving around, she sees some communities that appear to be adhering to mask-wearing and social distancing, but also spotted people at a recreation area near the Rio Grande who were not doing either, were gathered in groups larger than five, playing music and dancing. "We're doing much better," she noted, but such instances indicate "we're not where we need to be." The current numbers, she said, "show…every one of us can make a difference and how quickly you can make those changes and see those results."

New cases

  • 42 new cases in Bernalillo County
  • 1 new case in Catron County
  • 16 new cases in Chaves County
  • 3 new cases in Cibola County
  • 1 new case in Colfax County
  • 10 new cases in Curry County
  • 36 new cases in Doña Ana County
  • 9 new cases in Eddy County
  • 1 new case in Grant County
  • 1 new case in Hidalgo County
  • 23 new cases in Lea County
  • 4 new cases in Lincoln County
  • 1 new case in Luna County
  • 8 new cases in McKinley County
  • 2 new cases in Otero County
  • 6 new cases in Rio Arriba County
  • 5 new cases in Roosevelt County
  • 7 new cases in Sandoval County
  • 10 new cases in San Juan County
  • 8 new cases in Santa Fe County
  • 4 new cases in Taos County
  • 1 new case in Torrance County
  • 10 new cases in Valencia County
  • 2 new cases among individuals held by federal agencies at the Cibola County Correctional Center
  • 1 new case among New Mexico Corrections Department inmates at the Otero County Prison Facility

New fatalities

  • A female in her 50s from Bernalillo County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions.
  • A male in his 40s from San Juan County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions.

Congregate facilities

The Department of Health has identified at least one positive COVID-19 case in residents and/or staff in the past 28 days at the following facilities:

  • The Aristocrat Assisted Living Center in Alamogordo
  • Avamere Rehab at Fiesta Park in Albuquerque
  • Bear Canyon Rehabilitation Center in Albuquerque
  • BeeHive Homes of Farmington in Farmington
  • Belen Meadows Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Belen
  • Bonney Family Home in Gallup
  • Brookdale Santa Fe in Santa Fe
  • Camino Healthcare in Albuquerque
  • Casa Arena Blanca Nursing Center in Alamogordo
  • Casa Contenta Assisted Living in Rio Rancho
  • Casa de Oro Center in Las Cruces
  • Casa de Sunview in Albuquerque
  • Casa Real in Santa Fe
  • Cedar Ridge Inn in Farmington
  • Clayton Nursing and Rehabilitation in Clayton
  • Desert Springs Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Hobbs
  • El Castillo in Santa Fe
  • Fort Bayard Medical Center in Santa Clara
  • GoodLife Senior Living in Carlsbad
  • Good Samaritan Society in Las Cruces
  • Ladera Center in Albuquerque
  • Lakeview Christian Home in Carlsbad
  • Las Palomas Center in Albuquerque
  • Life Care Center of Farmington in Farmington
  • Life Spire Assisted Living in Albuquerque
  • Little Sisters of the Poor in Gallup
  • McKinley Care Center in Gallup
  • The Meadows Home at the New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute in Las Vegas
  • Mission Arch Center in Roswell
  • Montebello on Academy in Albuquerque
  • MorningStar Assisted Living & Memory Care in Rio Rancho
  • The Neighborhood in Rio Rancho
  • New Mexico State Veterans’ Home in Truth or Consequences
  • North Ridge Alzheimer’s Special Care Center in Albuquerque
  • Princeton Place in Albuquerque
  • Red Rocks Care Center in Gallup
  • Retreat Healthcare in Rio Rancho
  • The Rio at Las Estancias in Albuquerque
  • Rio Rancho Center in Rio Rancho
  • Sagecrest Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Las Cruces
  • Sandia Ridge Center in Albuquerque
  • Sombrillo Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Los Alamos
  • Sierra Health Care Center, Inc. in Truth or Consequences
  • Sierra Hills Assisted Living in Truth or Consequences
  • Sierra Springs Assisted Living in Los Lunas
  • Spanish Trails Rehabilitation Suites in Albuquerque
  • Sunset Villa Care Center in Roswell
  • Taos Living Center in Taos
  • Welbrook Senior Living Las Cruces in Las Cruces
  • Wheatfields Senior Living in Clovis
  • White Sands Healthcare in Hobbs
  • The Woodmark at Uptown in Albuquerque

Statewide cases

Previously reported numbers included four cases that have been identified as duplicates (one case in Cibola County, three cases in Doña Ana County); one case in San Juan County that has been identified as an out-of-state resident – these have now been corrected. Previously reported numbers also included one case reported as an NMCD inmate at the Lea County Correctional Facility that has been determined to be an inmate at the Otero County Prison Facility, as well as four cases (two in Bernalillo County, one in Cibola County, one in Sandoval County) reported in respective county totals that have since been determined to be among individuals held by federal agencies at the Cibola County Correctional Center. County totals are subject to change upon further investigation and determination of residency of individuals positive for COVID-19.

  • Bernalillo County: 5,029
  • Catron County: 5
  • Chaves County: 411
  • Cibola County: 346
  • Colfax County: 16
  • Curry County: 516
  • Doña Ana County: 2,348
  • Eddy County: 278
  • Grant County: 71
  • Guadalupe County: 31
  • Harding County: 1
  • Hidalgo County: 89
  • Lea County: 729
  • Lincoln County: 117
  • Los Alamos County: 20
  • Luna County: 241
  • McKinley County: 4,033
  • Mora County: 6
  • Otero County: 197
  • Quay County: 34
  • Rio Arriba County: 312
  • Roosevelt County: 157
  • Sandoval County: 1,117
  • San Juan County: 3,026
  • San Miguel County: 42
  • Santa Fe County: 618
  • Sierra County: 31
  • Socorro County: 73
  • Taos County: 106
  • Torrance County: 61
  • Union County: 28
  • Valencia County: 399

Cases among people being held by federal agencies

  • Cibola County Correctional Center: 297
  • Otero County Prison Facility: 279
  • Otero County Processing Center: 159
  • Torrance County Detention Facility: 43

Cases among people being held by the Mexico Department of Corrections

  • Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Valencia County: 25
  • Lea County Correctional Facility: 4
  • Northeast New Mexico Correctional Facility in Union County: 1
  • Northwest New Mexico Correctional Center in Cibola County: 1
  • Otero County Prison Facility: 472
  • Penitentiary of New Mexico in Santa Fe County: 1
  • Western New Mexico Correctional Facility in Cibola County: 3

*Per the health department, hospitalization figures include people who were tested elsewhere but are hospitalized in New Mexico, but don't include people who were tested here but are hospitalized out of state.