NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Early in the pandemic, it was used as a way to track COVID-19 cases in the workplace. Now, even as cases soar, the state’s Rapid Response COVID-19 Watchlist no longer leads to businesses shutting down.

“We haven’t looked toward closure of a business really since the early part of 2021,” said Bob Genoway, bureau chief of New Mexico Environment Department‘s OSHA Bureau. “Our efforts, instead of broad spread closure, we’ve decided to focus more on engaging employers where necessary.”

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The state still publishes the watchlist to keep workers and the public informed on where to go. Genoway said they and employers have learned a lot more about prevention methods for the virus in the workplace.

Now, employers with positive cases report to the Environment Department’s OSHA Bureau and explain what actions they’re taking to prevent further spread in the workplace. If an employer does not respond with those actions they’re taking or the number of infections continues to go up then the OSHA Bureau reaches out.

“Rapid responses are still considered an important prevention method. Most employers now know what to do when they have positive cases in the workplace. But there are still a number of employers needing some assistance,” said Genoway.

The state used to require businesses to get trained in COVID-safe practices to open at higher capacities. However, according to that training program’s website, it was no longer needed as of July 1. Schools in the state can also be put on the watchlist when they reach a 5% infection rate. At that point, they have to implement enhanced COVID-safe practices like more outdoor learning or banning spectators at events.