Houses of worship in New Mexico can now operate at 100% capacity, regardless of the risk-level in the counties where they are located. The change comes as a result of an amendment to the state’s public health order, effective today.

According to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s press secretary, Nora Meyers Sackett, the change “was made in light of recent US Supreme Court decisions that enjoin states from enforcing capacity limits on churches that are more restrictive than other entities like factories and schools.”

Most recently, in the April 9 Tandon v. Newsom ruling, the court granted a request by California Jeremy Wong and others who asked to be allowed to hold Bible study and prayer meetings in their homes, and argued that California’s restrictions violated their right under the First Amendment to freely exercise their religion, while allowing others to gather for non-secular activities. In another recent ruling, the court in February exempted churches from California’s statewide orders in South Bay United Pentecostal Church v. Newsom.

In New Mexico, the shift means, for instance, that houses of worship in the state’s only red county, Colfax County, would have been limited, before today’s amended order, to 25% of the maximum capacity of any enclosed space on the premises. Yellow counties would have been restricted to 33%; green counties 50% and those in turquoise counties, with the least restrictions, would still have been limited to 75%.

While the new order allows 100% capacity for all houses of worship, a statement from the governor’s office notes that houses of worship are, nonetheless, “strongly encouraged to protect their congregants and communities by enacting social distancing measures to bolster public health and minimize risk of viral spread of their own accord,” Meyers Sackett said via email.

New Mexico health officials today reported 245 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total so far to 196,221. The health department has designated 177,623 of those cases as recovered.

Bernalillo County had 59 new cases, followed by Doña Ana County with 46 and San Juan County with 36. Santa Fe County had 12 new cases.

The state also announced one additional death: a male in his 70s from Bernalillo County who had underlying conditions. There have now been 4,024 fatalities.

As of today, 116 people are hospitalized with COVID-19.*

Currently, 57.5% of New Mexicans have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 40.4% are fully vaccinated. In Santa Fe County, 62.1% have had at least one dose and 39.5% are fully inoculated.

On Friday afternoon, a vaccine advisory committee for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the agency lift the pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, implemented by the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration on April 13 in response to rare and severe blood clots. The CDC is expected to follow the recommendation and recommend resumption of the J&J vaccinations, with a required warning label. DOH Director of Communications Matt Bieber, in response to an inquiry from SFR, said the department would be issuing a response but, in short, “when we get final federal confirmation, we expect to resume distribution.”

New cases

  • 59 new cases in Bernalillo County
  • 8 new cases in Chaves County
  • 4 new cases in Curry County
  • 46 new cases in Doña Ana County
  • 12 new cases in Eddy County
  • 1 new case in Lea County
  • 4 new cases in Lincoln County
  • 3 new cases in Los Alamos County
  • 8 new cases in Luna County
  • 6 new cases in McKinley County
  • 8 new cases in Otero County
  • 2 new cases in Quay County
  • 2 new cases in Rio Arriba County
  • 1 new case in Roosevelt County
  • 18 new cases in Sandoval County
  • 36 new cases in San Juan County
  • 1 new case in San Miguel County
  • 12 new cases in Santa Fe County
  • 5 new cases in Sierra County
  • 1 new case in Torrance County
  • 7 new cases in Valencia County
  • 1 new case among New Mexico Corrections Department inmates at the Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Valencia County

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:

  • Bear Canyon Rehabilitation Center in Albuquerque
  • Belen Meadows Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Belen
  • Brookedale Santa Fe
  • Brookdale Valencia in Albuquerque
  • Good Samaritan Society--Betty Dare in alamogordo
  • Genesis Healthcare Uptown in Albuquerque
  • Lakeview Christian Home in Carlsbad
  • New Mexico State Veterans Home in Truth or Consequences
  • Princeton Place in Albuquerque
  • Skies Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Albuquerque
  • White Sands Healthcare in Hobbs

Statewide cases

According to a health department news release, previously reported numbers included nine cases that have been identified as duplicates (five in Chaves County, one in Eddy County, one in Los Alamos County, one in McKinley County and one in Otero County) and five cases that were not lab confirmed (three in Bernalillo County, one in Eddy County and one in Otero County)—these have now been corrected. County totals are subject to change upon further investigation and determination of residency of individuals positive for COVID-19.

  • Bernalillo County: 56,336
  • Catron County: 90
  • Chaves County: 8,856
  • Cibola County: 2,857
  • Colfax County: 745
  • Curry County: 5,086
  • De Baca County: 138
  • Doña Ana County: 24,458
  • Eddy County: 6,765
  • Grant County: 1,681
  • Guadalupe County: 376
  • Harding County: 10
  • Hidalgo County: 359
  • Lea County: 8,266
  • Lincoln County: 1,636
  • Los Alamos County: 514
  • Luna County: 3,284
  • McKinley County: 12,208
  • Mora County: 169
  • Otero County: 3,754
  • Quay County: 441
  • Rio Arriba County: 3,557
  • Roosevelt County: 1,878
  • Sandoval County: 11,771
  • San Juan County: 14,259
  • San Miguel County: 1,340
  • Santa Fe County: 10,053
  • Sierra County: 733
  • Socorro County: 1,301
  • Taos County: 1,650
  • Torrance County: 701
  • Union County: 247
  • Valencia County: 6,589

Cases among people being held by federal agencies

  • Cibola County Correctional Center: 446
  • Otero County Federal Prison Facility: 444
  • Otero County Processing Center: 198
  • Torrance County Detention Facility: 47

Cases among people being held by the New Mexico Department of Corrections

  • Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Valencia County: 295
  • Guadalupe County Correctional Facility: 251
  • Lea County Correctional Facility: 762
  • Northeast New Mexico Correctional Facility in Union County: 167
  • Northwest New Mexico Correctional Center in Cibola County: 127
  • Otero County Prison Facility: 472
  • Penitentiary of New Mexico in Santa Fe County: 218
  • Roswell Correctional Center: 230
  • Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility in Doña Ana County: 230
  • Springer Correctional Center in Colfax County: 151
  • Western New Mexico Correctional Facility in Cibola County: 75

*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.