Environment Department files emergency amendment to require employers to disclose positive COVID-19 cases

Coronavirus New Mexico

FILE – In this April 10, 2020, file image made from video, a lab technician dips a sample into the Abbott Laboratories ID Now testing machine at the Detroit Health Center in Detroit. Federal health officials are warning about potential accuracy problems with the rapid test for COVID-19 used at thousands of hospitals, clinics and testing sites across the U.S., including the White House. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The New Mexico Environment Department filed an emergency amendment Wednesday that requires employers to report positive COVID-19 cases to NMED within four hours of being notified of the case. The emergency amendment goes into effect Wednesday, August 5, 2020.

The State Rules Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act allows NMED to adopt emergency regulations. The exact citation from the State Rules Act can be found at NMSA 1978, § 14-4-5.6. The exact citation for the Occupational Health and Safety Act can be found at NMSA 1978, §50-9-12(C).

The emergency amendment is meant to decrease coronavirus transmission in the workplace. NMED says the amendment will remain in effect for no more than 120 days unless NMED proposes and the Environmental Improvement Board adopts a permanent rule prior to the end of the 120-day period.

“A critical element of the state’s rapid responses is timing – we need to hear as soon as possible when a positive case is identified,” said NMED Cabinet Secretary James Kenney in a news release Wednesday. “This amendment ensures that New Mexico employees are protected in the workplace and employers are held accountable. Our Occupational Health and Safety Bureau expects compliance with this emergency rule starting today.”

NMED says their Occupational Health and Safety Bureau is frequently notified of positive cases after employers are notified, resulting in delayed rapid responses. They also say to date, there have been more than 600 cases where the employer knew of a positive worker before NMED, including more than 280 instances where the employer knew of the case at least three days before NMED.

NMED says by requiring employers to report positive cases in a timely manner, the state will be able to more rapidly respond to workplaces, providing immediate guidance and support to employers and preventing the spread of COVID-19 beyond the infected employees.

Contact information for reporting COVID-19 cases

  • email: nmenv-osha@state.nm.us 
  • Tel: (505) 476-8700 
  • Fax: (505) 476-8734

New Mexico Coronavirus Resource Guide

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