DOH to Roll Out On-Site COVID-19 Vaccines

The state reports 214 new cases and rising variants as most of the state turns turquoise

Most New Mexico counties are now operating under the least stringent restrictions of the state’s COVID-19 public health law, as officials roll out more initiatives to up vaccination rates while racing against increasing variants and toward a June 30 deadline for fully inoculating 60% of residents.

The mostly turquoise map arrives following today’s update to the red-to-green county framework, using updated metrics implemented April 30. Under that new system, counties must have 10 or fewer cases per 100,000 populations measured over a 14-day period, along with a test positivity rate of 7.5% or less. A third metric, vaccination rates, required a 40% full vaccination rate for today’s evaluation, and will increase every two weeks by 5%.

Under the new protocol, 30 of New Mexico’s counties can now operate at the turquoise level. Two counties, Catron and Valencia, are green and Chaves County is yellow. No counties are red. Eight counties advanced to a less restrictive level since the most recent update last Friday to the map criteria: Bernalillo, Catron, Doña Ana, Hidalgo, Otero, Sandoval, San Juan and Valencia.

Counties that fail to meet any criteria classify as red; one metric equals yellow; two out of three qualifies for green and, in theory, counties must satisfy all the metrics to be considered turquoise.

However, counties can also turn turquoise if they qualify as green for two consecutive evaluation periods. While normally those evaluations occur every two weeks, today’s assessment followed an update to the map on April 30. That means counties that qualified as green on Friday and green again today turned turquoise even if they didn’t meet all three criteria. Under the previous system, counties needed to meet both criteria to turn green. With the third metric, counties can now satisfy two out of three to turn green and, if they do so twice, turn turquoise.

Bernalillo County serves as a case in point. It had qualifying test positivity and vaccine rates on April 30, the first day of the new system and turned green in the new two-out-of-three system. It continued to meet both those metrics today and, thus, turned turquoise as a result of being green for two consecutive assessments, even though they were less than a week apart. However, Bernalillo County’s case rate—11.7—does not meet even the new relaxed metric of 10 cases per 100,000 population it was previously eight).

Indeed, several counties reaching turquoise in either Friday or today’s updates only meet two of the three metrics. San Juan County, for instance, is turquoise with the highest case rate in the state: 28.8; Roosevelt County is also turquoise with the lowest full vaccination rate in the state: 23.40%.

“It looks like the idea of incorporating the vaccination rate has really benefited many counties,” Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase said during a news update today. “It gives counties another way to stay green or become turquoise.” Nonetheless, he noted, those counties with higher case rates “need to be very careful.”

Santa Fe County remains turquoise and meets all three metrics with a case rate of 6.9, a test positivity rate of 2.15% and 50.1% of the population fully vaccinated. Under the new strategy, turquoise counties will be evaluated every four weeks, rather than two, so Santa Fe County will next be assessed June 2.

While much of the state opens up a bit more, Health Secretary Dr. Tracie Collins said DOH is increasing its efforts to vaccinate residents through a variety of initiatives, including forthcoming on-site vaccination events for businesses, nonprofits, schools and other organizations.

DOH, Aging and Long-Term Services and the Human Services Department today also announced a new initiative to recruit primary care providers into the COVID-19 vaccine distribution effort. The state is focusing more on youth, and anticipates being able to start vaccinating people 12 to 15 years old, pending Food and Drug Administration approval of the Pfizer vaccine for that age group, expected next week.

“What we are looking at [is] more smaller targeted events,” Collins said, “but this is going to take everyone’s efforts to get shots in arms.” In response to a question from SFR, Collins said New Mexico is ordering approximately 50% of its allocation (which stands at around 114,000 doses) and aims to boost that to 70%. The federal government recently told states that if they don’t order their full COVID-19 vaccine allocations in a given week, their allocations will be sent to other states versus rolling over to the following week.

Following an announcement last week by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, health officials aim to have 60% of the state fully vaccinated by the end of June, at which point they will retire the county-level framework and its various capacity limits, although other COVID-safe practices, such as masks, will likely continue. Currently, 58.9% of New Mexicans have had at least one dose and 45.4% have been fully vaccinated.

The push to 60% comes as vaccination rates begin to stagnate and more transmissible COVID-19 variants increase. According to Scrase, close to 70% of samples sequenced in the state are “variants of concern,” so classified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for having higher transmission rates and, in some cases, causing more severe disease and showing resistance to treatment.

“We believe the daily case counts would be extraordinarily low right now if it were not for the emergence of variants,” Scrase said. “I don’t think there’s any cause for people to panic about this, but it should reinforce the importance of getting vaccinated.” As for not panicking, Scrase said New Mexico has been leading the country in vaccination rates “and there’s no evidence” that any of these variants are resistant to the vaccines, “we still think we have a leg up.” Nonetheless, both he and Collins reiterated “the pandemic is not over.”

New Mexico health officials today reported 214 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total so far to 198,781. The health department has designated 183,949 of those cases as recovered.

Bernalillo County had 65 new cases, followed by San Juan County with 40 and both Santa Fe and Sandoval counties with 20. Of the 20 cases in Santa Fe County, eight came from the 87507 ZIP code and another eight from the 87508 ZIP code, which ranked seventh and eighth in the state today for the ZIP codes with the highest number of new cases.

The state also announced two additional deaths from Bernalillo and Roosevelt counties; there have now been 4,085 fatalities. In today’s news conference, in response to a question from SFR, Scrase said the higher daily death counts the last week—10 yesterday and two days last week with 12—were the result of backlogs at the Office of the Medical Investigator and not representative of the current rate of daily deaths, which he said is close to one per day.

As of today, 144 people are hospitalized with COVID-19.*

New cases

  • 65 new cases in Bernalillo County
  • 1 new case in Chaves County
  • 1 new case in Cibola County
  • 1 new case in Colfax County
  • 5 new cases in Curry County
  • 15 new cases in Doña Ana County
  • 3 new cases in Eddy County
  • 2 new cases in Grant County
  • 1 new case in Guadalupe County
  • 1 new case in Lea County
  • 2 new cases in Lincoln County
  • 3 new cases in Luna County
  • 1 new case in McKinley County
  • 15 new cases in Otero County
  • 6 new cases in Quay County
  • 1 new case in Rio Arriba County
  • 2 new cases in Roosevelt County
  • 20 new cases in Sandoval County
  • 40 new cases in San Juan County
  • 1 new case in San Miguel County
  • 20 new cases in Santa Fe County
  • 3 new cases in Sierra County
  • 1 new case in Socorro County
  • 1 new case in Torrance County
  • 3 new cases in Valencia County

New fatalities

  • A male in his 80s from Bernalillo County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A female in her 60s from Roosevelt 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:

  • Albuquerque Heights Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center
  • Bear Canyon Rehabilitation Center in Albuquerque
  • Belen Meadows Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Belen
  • Brookdale Santa Fe
  • Brookdale Valencia in Albuquerque
  • Canyon Transitional Rehabilitation Center in Albuquerque
  • Desert Peaks Assisting Living and Memory Care in Las Cruces
  • Genesis Healthcare Uptown in Albuquerque
  • Genesis Silver City Care Center in Silver City
  • Good Samaritan Society – Betty Dare in Alamogordo
  • Lakeview Christian Home in Carlsbad
  • The Meadows Home at the New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute in Las Vegas
  • New Mexico State Veterans Home in Truth or Consequences
  • Princeton Place in Albuquerque
  • The Rehabilitation Center of Albuquerque
  • The Rio at Las Estancias in Albuquerque
  • Sunset Vista Senior Living Center in Silver City
  • Welbrook Senior Living in Las Cruces

Statewide cases

According to a DOH news release, previously reported numbers included seven cases that have been identified as duplicates (one in Bernalillo County, one in Cibola County, three in Doña Ana County, one in Guadalupe County and one in Roosevelt County) and two cases that were not lab confirmed (one in Doña Ana County and one in McKinley County)—these have now been corrected from the state totals. County totals are subject to change upon further investigation and determination of residency of individuals positive for COVID-19.

  • Bernalillo County: 57,274
  • Catron County: 92
  • Chaves County: 8,930
  • Cibola County: 2,862
  • Colfax County: 755
  • Curry County: 5,136
  • De Baca County: 146
  • Doña Ana County: 24,654
  • Eddy County: 6,823
  • Grant County: 1,704
  • Guadalupe County: 381
  • Harding County: 10
  • Hidalgo County: 361
  • Lea County: 8,273
  • Lincoln County: 1,673
  • Los Alamos County: 519
  • Luna County: 3,317
  • McKinley County: 12,244
  • Mora County: 170
  • Otero County: 3,847
  • Quay County: 471
  • Rio Arriba County: 3,597
  • Roosevelt County: 1,929
  • Sandoval County: 11,904
  • San Juan County: 14,703
  • San Miguel County: 1,347
  • Santa Fe County: 10,162
  • Sierra County: 753
  • Socorro County: 1,311
  • Taos County: 1,658
  • Torrance County: 737
  • Union County: 248
  • Valencia County: 6,676

Cases among people being held by federal agencies

  • Cibola County Correctional Center: 445
  • 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: 298
  • Guadalupe County Correctional Facility: 251
  • Lea County Correctional Facility: 761
  • Northeast New Mexico Correctional Facility in Union County: 167
  • Northwest New Mexico Correctional Center in Cibola County: 128
  • Otero County Prison Facility: 473
  • Penitentiary of New Mexico in Santa Fe County: 218
  • Roswell Correctional Center: 229
  • Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility in Doña Ana County: 229
  • 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.

Letters to the Editor

Mail letters to PO Box 4910 Santa Fe, NM 87502 or email them to editor[at]sfreporter.com. Letters (no more than 200 words) should refer to specific articles in the Reporter. Letters will be edited for space and clarity.

We also welcome you to follow SFR on social media (on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) and comment there. You can also email specific staff members from our contact page.