NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced on Wednesday that New Mexico is “conquering COVID,” and in the home stretch of the pandemic. She announced major changes to the state’s reopening criteria will go into effect this week, loosening up restrictions.
Currently, nearly 42% of eligible New Mexicans are fully vaccinated. If the state can get to 60% by the end of June, Gov. Lujan Grisham said the state will be fully ‘open.’
“Think about capacity limitations, right those are all gonna go away,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “So having to navigate in our red, yellow, green, turquoise, and to think about that, we are there. We’ve graduated. But COVID-safe practices have to stay.”
Gov. Lujan Grisham said if the state is able to reach its goal of 60% fully vaccinated, businesses that have been closed will be able to reopen. Movie theaters were given as an example.
Masks will still be required indoors, and will likely be one of the last things to go. This Friday, April 30, most of the state will be in the turquoise or green level, meaning major changes for businesses and capacity limits.
The county-by-county ‘red to turquoise’ gating criteria will now take into account vaccination rates. The new criteria include a minimum threshold of 40% vaccination rate, and a test positivity rate of 7.5%, up from the previous 5%.
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State leaders emphasized the vaccine is still the best way out of this pandemic. KRQE News 13 put together the following graphs to illustrate how death counts were impacted after vaccinations entered the picture, and how much COVID case counts were reduced. The blue line represents vaccine doses.
Dr. David Scrase, Secretary for the state’s Human Services Department, said there have been 271 confirmed COVID-19 cases among fully vaccinated New Mexicans. That’s about four people out of every 10,000.
“Vaccine breakthrough, they’re very mild cases and so it’s hard to sequence the virus because we don’t have enough viral, but we have seen variants,” explained Dr. Scrase. “Particularly the California variant in the breakthrough cases so far.”
Out of the 271 COVID cases among fully vaccinated New Mexicans, 23 have been hospitalized, and five of them appear to be related to COVID. Dr. Scrase said there were four reported deaths among vaccinated people. However, only one was clearly related to COVID, one death was not, and the other two cases are still being investigated, he said.
Even if the state fully reopens this summer, the governor said she’ll keep the public health emergency in effect, which allows the state to draw on federal support if needed.
Under the new criteria, Bernalillo County will turn green on Friday. After Friday, the color-coded maps will be released every other Wednesday, starting next week, May 5.