By Joe Siess
Staff writer 

Health officials announce time they hope to reopen state


Last updated 5/1/2021 at 3:20pm

CLOVIS — Health officials announced Tuesday when they hope the state is expected to be fully reopened, went over updated Centers for Disease Control masking guidelines, and outlined new criteria for the statewide color-coded framework, which will now factor in vaccination rates.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that 60% of eligible New Mexicans are projected to be fully vaccinated by the end of this coming June, and that in about nine weeks, the state will be fully and safely reopened.

“I really want New Mexicans to be proud, encouraged, I don’t want you to let your guard down, I want us to keep conquering COVID,” Lujan Grisham said.

As of Friday, 42.4% of New Mexicans are fully vaccinated — including 27.5% in Curry County and 22% in Roosevelt County.

Human Services Secretary David Scrase went over the updated CDC masking guidelines explaining that fully vaccinated people can ditch the mask while doing pretty much any outdoor activity unless it involves attending crowded events such as live performances, parades or sports events.

Unvaccinated people, Scrase said, should continue wearing a mask, even while dining outdoors or attending small outdoor gatherings.

For indoor activities, the CDC is still recommending the use of masks.

Scrase implored New Mexicans to get registered and to get vaccinated, and to stick with the CDC masking requirements.

“As we increase our vaccination rate, case rates will go down as more and more people get vaccinated,” Scrase said. “Interestingly and maybe paradoxically test positivity rates are going to go up. Because as more people are vaccinated less people will need testing.”

Scrase said that the state’s color coded system for categorizing test positivity rates by county will be adapted to incorporate vaccination rates into the framework.

Under the new requirements, Curry and Roosevelt counties remained in the vaunted turquoise status on Friday and will await the next release of county ratings on Wednesday.

The state will now judge counties on gating criteria of 10 daily cases per 100,000, test positivity of 7.5% or lower and vaccination rates — starting at 35% on Wednesday and increasing by 5% each two-week period to reach 60% by June 2. Turquoise counties meet all three metrics, green counties meet two, yellow counties meet one and red counties meet none.

Previously, the state graded counties on meeting 8 daily cases per 100,000 and test positivity of 5% or lower.

Scrase added that the new criteria will eliminate volatility in the data reporting process, and also encourage residents to get vaccinated.

The state reported 34 COVID-19 deaths between Saturday and Friday, including three local reports:

• A Curry County female in her 80s with underlying conditions, reported Wednesday

• A Curry County female in her 50s who was hospitalized with underlying conditions, reported Tuesday

• A Roosevelt County male in his 60s who was hospitalized, reported Tuesday


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