NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – As more New Mexicans get vaccinated, state health officials say they’re closer to changing how they determine which color level each county is in. Some counties in the state regressed on the COVID-19 county map Wednesday. The Health and Human Services Department Secretary says they are testing a new method for coming up with a framework that will help larger counties.
“We know that the test positivity rate will likely go up as more people get vaccinated, so we are reconsidering 5 percent or less metric you can see. We also, now with the vaccine on board, we can tolerate a higher number of cases. So we are reconsidering that 168,” said Dr. David Scrase.
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The state’s seven-day rolling daily case count is at 168 which is the only metric that doesn’t meet the gating criteria with hospitalizations and deaths coming down. Dr. Scrase says the state is hoping to announce in two weeks a new method for its red to turquoise map. They’re proposing revisions to the test positivity rate, daily case count, taking out the metric for PPE supply and they’re also considering including county vaccine rates.
“While we are not happy younger individuals are more out and about and mixing with each other more and spreading COVID…as they are and we have those variants in the state…that are likely to spread more. I think we are experiencing an unbelievably positive benefit from all the great work Secretary Collins [New Mexico Department of Health Secretary Dr. Tracie Collins] and state is doing to get New Mexico vaccinated,” Dr. Scrase said.
Dr. Scrase also says New Mexico has been seeing different variants of the virus. He says the variants spread faster, however, it doesn’t cause more severe illness. New Mexico is still leading the nation in vaccination rate with 57% of the eligible population receiving at least one shot.