The New Mexico Department of Health (DOH) said Eddy County met COVID-19 gating criteria Wednesday moving into the “green” category, as daily cases were reported at 7.20 out of 100,000 and the positivity rate declined to 2.13 percent.
Nearly two weeks earlier, Eddy County moved into the “yellow” category, as daily cases were reported at 16.70 out of 100,000 and the positivity rate declined to 3.79%.
Eddy and Chaves counties were two of nine counties in New Mexico that reached a less restrictive level, DOH said in a news release.
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Chaves County’s daily cases were 4.00 per 100,000 and the positivity rate was 1.33 percent, per DOH data.
In the news release DOH said, non-retail essential businesses have no capacity restrictions but operations must be limited to only those absolutely necessary to carry out essential functions. Essential retail businesses may operate at 50 percent of maximum capacity both indoor and outdoor.
Food and drink establishments (if NM Safe Certified) may operate at 50 percent of maximum capacity for indoor dining and 75 percent of maximum capacity for outdoor dining, the release read.
Bars and clubs may operate at 25 percent of maximum capacity of any outdoor space on premises, where applicable; indoor not permitted and large entertainment venues may operate at 25 percent of maximum capacity for any indoor/enclosed space on premises and 50 percent of any outdoor space on premises, the release indicated.
Ward 3 Carlsbad City Councilor Jason said Eddy County’s move to green is a major step.
“This is a huge shot in the arm for our small businesses, restaurants and the economy as a whole,” he said.
“This is a combination of a lot of hard work and Carlsbad being responsible and what we’ve got to do to stop the spread. Let’s keep up the good work and congrats to Eddy County.”
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No counties in New Mexico were in the red or the most restrictive category and Lea County moved into the turquoise category, which means a higher percentage of people are allowed in essential and retail businesses, restaurants, bars and clubs, DOH indicated.
DOH said Lea County’s cases per 100,000 was 3.90 and the positivity rate was 1.92 percent.
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The state’s county-by-county system uses key health metrics – the per-capita daily incidence of new COVID-19 cases and average COVID-19 test positivity within county borders – to determine the level of public health risk and requirement for each county. A county that meets one criterion may operate at the yellow level; a county that meets both may operate at the green level. A county that has met both for two consecutive biweekly map updates may operate at the turquoise level, DOH said.
New Mexico Human Services Department Secretary Dr. David R. Scrase said New Mexicans continued to make progress.
“Everybody can sit back and appreciate that transition we’ve made this much progress,” he said during a Wednesday news conference.
Scrase reminded people to get tested and other high-ranking State health officials reminded citizens that vaccines are helping.
“Two in five New Mexicans 16 and older have received their first shots (and) nearly a quarter are fully vaccinated,” said New Mexico Department of Health Secretary Dr. Tracie C. Collins.
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She said more than 116,000 vaccines were allocated across the State for next week and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determined the three vaccines were safe and effective.
Collins said 770,000 New Mexicans had registered for the vaccine as of Wednesday.
Mike Smith can be reached at 575-628-5546 or by email at [email protected] or @ArgusMichae on Twitter.