SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Several counties could be forced to close again in two weeks if their vaccine numbers don’t improve. Once a county reaches Turquoise, it stays in that level for four weeks, no matter what.
That rule saved many counties from sliding backward in this week’s update. “While these counties, some counties are Turquoise it’s hiding numbers underneath them that might not be so good. We’re extending Turquoise you can see there’s four you can see, there’s four counties that would be Yellow now and three that would be Red,” Scrase said.
De Baca and Quay counties would’ve gone all the way back to Red on Wednesday if they weren’t under the four-week Turquoise protection. Red means the counties have a vaccination rate less than 45%, a test positivity rate above 7.5% and a case average higher than 10 per 100,000 people. Guadalupe, Curry, Roosevelt and San Juan County would be Yellow, which means a county is only meeting one of the above criteria.
Dr. Scrase said those counties are seeing higher numbers of COVID-19 cases, and while COVID variants have been on the top doctor’s radar for some time now, they haven’t really been causing any major problems in the state, until now. “B.1.1.7 went from 4% of cases in New Mexico six to eight weeks ago to the point now where it’s two-thirds of our cases and the reason this is important is there’s new evidence this transmits 1.5 to two times as readily as the variants that we’ve been used to in our state since the beginning of the pandemic,” Scrase said.
B.1.1.7 is the UK variant. To combat it, Scrase said the best thing to do is to get vaccinated. As of Wednesday afternoon, nearly 53% of people in New Mexico are fully vaccinated. Health Secretary Dr. Tracie Collins said today that the state is still on track to hit 60% fully vaccinated before June 30, which is when the state will stop using the Red to Turquoise reopening system and fully reopen.