Taos County Sheriff believes COVID-red status likely to remain the same for months

Coronavirus New Mexico

TAOS, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s been just about a week since the governor rolled out the colored tiered system to slowly re-open the state. Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller has made it clear that Bernalillo County might take months to get into the yellow tier. Now, a northern New Mexico sheriff says he too believes his county will be seeing red for a long time.

“It’s a sad reality that those numbers are so stringent. I don’t see any way that Taos County, my county, is ever going to get out of that any time soon,” says Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe.

In the last few months, Sheriff Hogrefe has been doing what he can to bring down the number of positive coronavirus cases in his county. But according to the Department of Health’s website, Taos County remains in the red, with more than eight positive cases per 100,000 people.

“My focus, what we need to do in Taos County to get ourselves to the less restrictive yellow, have not been very fruitful,” says Sheriff Hogrefe. Just last week, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller predicted it would take the state’s biggest county, Bernalillo, months to get into the yellow tier.

“Let’s call it six months, but I think that could be just to get out of the red phase, let alone all the way through,” said Mayor Keller. Unfortunately, Sheriff Hogrefe believes Taos County will be in the same boat. “People have actually brought the virus back here to Taos County when visiting other places. [Are] some being reckless? Yeah probably. It being intentional? No, I honestly don’t think it is,” he says.

While Hogrefe believes his community is doing the best they can to bring the numbers down, he says the restrictions make it nearly impossible for any county to get out of the red zone. “To paint the small community of Penasco or Cerro, into the same brush with the Town of Taos, our highest infection rate, is not fair,” he says.

KRQE News 13 asked the governor’s office if there is a chance they would amend the criteria for the colored framework, but did not hear back. At the moment, the only county in the state that is not in the red is San Miguel County. They are currently in the yellow stage.

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