Local COVID News

Local COVID News

State amends capacity requirements for essential retail spaces

Dec 16, 2020 | Press Releases

SANTA FE – The state’s emergency public health order on Wednesday was amended to accommodate slightly increased capacity inside essential retail spaces, such as grocery stores and certain other large “big box” retailers that generate a percentage of their revenue from consumable food and drink products, as cold weather grips most of New Mexico.

In accordance with the state’s graduated red-to-green system of measuring the risk of viral spread in specific counties, the changes establish that essential retail spaces:

  • May operate at 50 percent of maximum occupancy at the Green Level
  • May operate at 33 percent of maximum occupancy at the Yellow Level
  • May operate at 25 percent of maximum occupancy at the Red Level

Previously, essential retail spaces could operate with either a limit on maximum occupancy or a specific number of customers at one time, whichever was smaller. The change eliminates the latter provision.

The amended emergency public health order is effective today, Wednesday, Dec. 16 and can be found here.

“Our priority is ensuring physical distancing in high-traffic areas, like stores that people must frequent to meet essential needs,” said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. “With colder weather here, we want to ensure that people aren’t gathering in lines for an unsafe length of time, especially in communities where there are fewer retail options for essential needs. We are grateful to the numerous companies and stores across New Mexico that have made every effort to keep their customers, employees and communities safe.

“The safe choices remain the same: Stay at home whenever you can, avoid groups and gatherings, and always wear your mask when you must leave the house,” the governor added.

Essential retail spaces, as defined in the emergency public health order, include grocery stores, supermarkets, food banks, farmers’ markets and vendors who sell food, convenience stores, and other businesses that generate more than one-third of their revenue from the sale of canned food, dry goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, pet food, animal feed or supplies, fresh meats, fish, and poultry, and any other consumable food and drink products; automobile repair facilities, bike repair facilities, and retailers who generate the majority of their revenue from the sale of automobile or bike repair products; hardware stores; laundromats; and dry cleaner services.

The state encourages essential retailers to adopt designated hours for senior citizens or otherwise high-risk populations, and reminds New Mexicans to limit outings and the number of people who travel on those outings – for instance, shopping for groceries can be done by one household member, rather than an entire family.

For more information about the state’s red-to-green framework, visit cv.nmhealth.org/redtogreen

State Announces Temporary School Closure After Winter Break

Dec 11, 2020 | Press Room

Measure Combats COVID Case Surge, Accelerates Return to Safe and Sustainable In-Person Learning

SANTA FE – The New Mexico Department of Health (DOH) and the Public Education

Department (PED) today announced a delay in the return to in-person learning after the winter break, in an effort to help mitigate what may be a post-holiday surge in COVID-19 cases in New Mexico and to minimize the risk of exposure in in-person learning environments during that time.

Details include:

  • No in-person learning will be permitted during the weeks of January 4 and January 11, 2021.
  • Schools previously operating in the hybrid model may return to their hybrid schedules the week of January 18, 2021. In addition, those operating small-group instruction in the remote stance may also begin welcoming their 5:1 groups of K-3 and Special Education students back to school beginning January 18, 2021.
  • All Local Education Authorities must participate in increased surveillance testing following the winter break.
  • Surveillance testing will be required for 10% of onsite staff for at least two weeks prior to offering in-person student services.

“Our goal remains unchanged: to save lives and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Today’s actions will help us achieve that goal – and ultimately, help schools and students return to in person learning more quickly,” said DOH Acting Cabinet Secretary Billy Jimenez.

“We are hopeful that with these additional mitigation efforts, we will be able to welcome many more students back into their classrooms in the New Year. Our children have experienced a school year unlike any other and while we are proud of their resiliency and perseverance, we are eager to see them amongst their peers and thriving back in school,” said Public Education Department Cabinet Secretary Ryan Stewart.

Additional press inquiries should be directed to Judy Robinson, PED Deputy Communications Director, at judy.robinson@state.nm.us.

 

DOH issues public health orders temporarily limiting non-essential surgeries, recognizing activation of crisis care.

Dec 10, 2020 | Press Room

SANTA FE – The New Mexico Department of Health on Thursday announced two new public health emergency orders in response to the ongoing public health crisis in New Mexico and resulting unsustainable strain on health care providers and hospitals, one temporarily limiting non-essential surgeries and another recognizing the activation of “crisis care” standards by outlining credentialing processes for COVID-19 health care providers.

The public health orders are attached to this news release.

The temporary limitation on non-essential surgeries is effective Dec. 11 through Jan. 4, 2021. Under the order, executed by Acting Health Secretary Billy Jimenez, all hospital acute care facilities in the state may not provide non-essential surgical procedures. Non-essential surgeries are defined in the order to include procedures that may be delayed without undue risk to the patient’s health. The order outlines criteria to be considered in distinguishing between essential and non-essential procedural needs.

Nothing in the emergency order applies to the provision of emergency medical care or any medical actions necessary to provide for urgent or emergency medical needs; or to any surgery or procedure that would result in the worsening of a serious condition, if not performed.

The order relating to crisis care standards outlines the steps necessary for the credentialing and approval of health care providers responding to the COVID-19 health care crisis, in accordance with Executive Order 2020-83.

“New Mexico’s health care providers and delivery system will continue to provide the best possible care to all patients,” said Jimenez. “New Mexico’s health care system, and everyone working within it, will continue to work toward the best possible outcome for our state. It’s so important for all of us to step up for those dedicated health care workers, to recognize the sacrifices they are making to protect our neighbors, to understand our own actions can and will make a difference. Take this crisis seriously and adopt COVID-safe behaviors in your own day-to-day life.”

Please review the the Executive orders that are linked below.

120920-PHO_Activation-of-CSC-and-TCA

120920-PHO_non-essential-surgeries

December 4, 2020

Attached is the latest Executive Order from the Governor of New Mexico.  It is seven (7) pages long and contains some pretty sobering information.  You are encouraged to read it in its entirety.

This Order invokes certain provisions of AHEMA (All Hazards Emergency Management Act) and ELA (Emergency Licensing Act) to provide for the Department of Health and the Medical Advisory Team authorization of statewide crisis standards of care, if and when necessary, and providing for certain protections for COVID care providers.

This Order establishes a Medical Advisory Team and a COVID-19 Medical Surge Plan.  The State is preparing for when normal medical standards of care cannot be maintained and triage strategies must be implemented.

Simply put, the medical infrastructure in the State of New Mexico is approaching crisis.  An accident, injury or illness may become life-threatening simply because there is no room in a hospital, no staff available, or there is a shortage of supplies.  If you need medical care, you may not receive the level of care that you are used to, or that you expect, or that is normally available.

This Executive Order shall take effect immediately, and shall remain in effect for thirty (30) days.    

(click below on Executive-Order-2020-083 to read the order)

Executive-Order-2020-083

Nov 30, 2020 | Press Room

State announces tiered ‘Red to Green’ system for N.M. counties in next phase of COVID-19 response

Framework enables counties to reopen further when meeting key health metrics

SANTA FE – In an effort designed to provide local communities the flexibility to operate more day-to-day activities, the state of New Mexico will transition to a tiered county-by-county COVID-19 risk system on Dec. 2, enabling local communities to shed burdensome restrictions as soon as public health data show the virus is retreating within their borders.

The shift in the state’s “reopening” framework will come after a two-week “reset” period, in which state health officials enacted the most heightened level of statewide public health restrictions upon places of business and day-to-day activities in an effort to blunt the spread of COVID-19 all across New Mexico.

“The county-by-county framework enables counties, and the businesses and nonprofits within their borders, to operate with fewer restrictions when they slow the spread of the virus and drive down test positivity rates,” said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. “It’s been a difficult year and an especially difficult past month. We must remain as vigilant as ever to contain and beat the virus; we also must look for ways to lessen the burden on our communities wherever possible, while never swerving from our top priority – protecting New Mexicans and saving lives.”

An amended emergency public health order, installing the new framework with an effective date of Wednesday, Dec. 2, can be found here.

The operative requirements of the state’s two-week “reset” will be in effect through Dec. 2.

The spread of COVID-19 remains a statewide emergency. Hospitals and health care providers all across New Mexico have reported great strain in responding to the escalating illness and mortality caused by the continued spread of the virus.

The county-by-county framework will permit counties – and the businesses and nonprofit entities within their borders – to operate under less restrictive public health measures when health metrics demonstrating the extent of the virus’ spread and test positivity within those counties are met.

In order to prevent and mitigate the effects of the spread of the virus, and to ameliorate the unsustainable resultant strain placed upon the state’s health care system and personnel, counties where the virus is more prevalent will operate under more restrictive public health measures. Likewise, counties where the virus has been or is being suppressed will operate under less restrictive measures.

Counties will operate under one of three levels: Red, signifying very high risk; Yellow, signifying high risk; and Green, signifying medium risk.

The New Mexico Department of Health maintains an official map displaying each county’s current level on its designated COVID-19 webpage, cv.nmhealth.org. To capture an average over a period of time that accurately conveys the state of the spread of the virus in each county, the agency updates this map every other Wednesday.

When a county fails to meet the specified metrics for a given level upon the biweekly update of the map, it will begin operating at the next most restrictive level within 48 hours. When a county meets the specific metrics for a less restrictive level, the county may begin operating at that level of restrictions upon immediate effect of the department’s biweekly update of the map.

The two key health metrics that will used to determine where a county sits within the tiered framework are pulled identified within the state’s gating criteria, the set of public health data points tracked and measured by the state Medical Advisory Team and others: The per-capita incidence of new COVID-19 cases and average COVID-19 test positivity over a statistically meaningful period of time. These are also the same metrics the state has used to classify counties for the purposes of gauging the risk level for limited public school reopenings and limited nursing home visitations.

As of Monday, Nov. 30, 32 of the state’s 33 counties are at the Red Level. At this level, almost every category of business or nonprofit entity may operate – but with limited capacity and reduced operations, owing to the very high risk of viral spread.

The map will next be updated Wednesday, Dec. 2, and every other Wednesday thereafter.

The public health requirements for each level – and reminders about definitions of businesses and other entities within the state’s emergency public health order – are attached to this news release and available at cv.nmhealth.org/redtogreen.

NOTE: The state’s announcement of the tiered system Friday, Nov. 27, identified gyms as “close-contact businesses.” In the emergency public health order, attached to this news release, gyms are re-categorized into the catch-all category for businesses not identified elsewhere in the public health order, meaning that, at the Red Level, they may operate at up to 25 percent of maximum occupancy or 75 individuals at one time, whichever is smaller.

“Nothing about this virus has changed,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “And what we can all do to fight it – and to help members of our local communities avoid infection and get back to more safe day-to-day activities – hasn’t changed either. Avoid gatherings. Wear a facemask. Avoid spending time with non-household members. Stay at home whenever – whenever – you can. These are best and indeed our only tools as we seek to prevent and minimize the illness and suffering and death so many of our neighbors in this state continue to grapple with.”

No matter a county’s level, the following requirements remain in place statewide:

  • Facemasks are required to be worn in public.
  • Businesses that accrue a significant number of positive COVID-19 cases within their workforce in a two-week span are subject to temporary closure by the Department of Health.
    • An essential business may be permitted to continue operating if the Department of Health and Environment Department determine the business is a necessary provider of goods or services within the community in light of geographic considerations.
    • Businesses that test each employee every two weeks and regularly provide contact training data to the Environment Department shall not be subject to closure under this framework
    • This applies only to food and drink establishments; close-contact businesses; places of lodging; retail spaces; and other other businesses which members of the public regularly visit.
    • The closure process is triggered if four or more rapid responses occur within a 14-day period.
  • Businesses and nonprofits must adhere to the state’s COVID-Safe Practices.

State announces tiered ‘Red to Green’ system for N.M. counties in next phase of COVID-19 response

Nov 27, 2020 | Press Room

Framework enables counties to reopen further when meeting key health metrics

SANTA FE – In an effort designed to provide local communities the flexibility to operate more day-to-day activities, the state of New Mexico will transition to a tiered county-by-county COVID-19 risk system on Dec. 2, enabling local communities to shed burdensome restrictions as soon as public health data show the virus is retreating within their borders.

The shift in the state’s “reopening” framework will come after a two-week “reset” period, in which state health officials enacted the most heightened level of statewide public health restrictions upon places of business and day-to-day activities in an effort to blunt the spread of COVID-19 all across New Mexico.

“The county-by-county framework enables counties, and the businesses and nonprofits within their borders, to operate with fewer restrictions when they slow the spread of the virus and drive down test positivity rates,” said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. “It’s been a difficult year and an especially difficult past month. We must remain as vigilant as ever to contain and beat the virus; we also must look for ways to lessen the burden on our communities wherever possible, while never swerving from our top priority – protecting New Mexicans and saving lives.”

An amended emergency public health order will be executed Monday, Nov. 30, installing the new framework with an effective date of Wednesday, Dec. 2. The current operative requirements of the state’s two-week “reset” will be in effect through that time.

The spread of COVID-19 remains a statewide emergency. Hospitals and health care providers all across New Mexico have reported great strain in responding to the escalating illness and mortality caused by the continued spread of the virus.

The county-by-county framework will permit counties – and the businesses and nonprofit entities within their borders – to operate under less restrictive public health measures when health metrics demonstrating the extent of the virus’ spread and test positivity within those counties are met.

In order to prevent and mitigate the effects of the spread of the virus, and to ameliorate the unsustainable resultant strain placed upon the state’s health care system and personnel, counties where the virus is more prevalent will operate under more restrictive public health measures. Likewise, counties where the virus has been or is being suppressed will operate under less restrictive measures.

Counties will operate under one of three levels: Red, signifying very high risk; Yellow, signifying high risk; and Green, signifying medium risk.

The New Mexico Department of Health maintains an official map displaying each county’s current level on its designated COVID-19 webpage, cv.nmhealth.org. To capture an average over a period of time that accurately conveys the state of the spread of the virus in each county, the agency updates this map every other Wednesday.

When a county fails to meet the specified metrics for a given level upon the biweekly update of the map, it will begin operating at the next most restrictive level within 48 hours. When a county meets the specific metrics for a less restrictive level, the county may begin operating at that level of restrictions upon immediate effect of the department’s biweekly update of the map.

The two key health metrics that will used to determine where a county sits within the tiered framework are pulled identified within the state’s gating criteria, the set of public health data points tracked and measured by the state Medical Advisory Team and others: The per-capita incidence of new COVID-19 cases and average COVID-19 test positivity over a statistically meaningful period of time. These are also the same metrics the state has used to classify counties for the purposes of gauging the risk level for limited public school reopenings and limited nursing home visitations.

As of Friday, Nov. 27, 32 of the state’s 33 counties are at the Red Level. At this level, almost every category of business or nonprofit entity may operate — but with limited capacity and reduced operations, owing to the very high risk of viral spread.

The map will next be updated Wednesday, Dec. 2, and every other Wednesday thereafter.

The public health requirements for each level – and reminders about definitions of businesses and other entities within the state’s emergency public health order – are attached to this news release.

“Nothing about this virus has changed,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “And what we can all do to fight it – and to help members of our local communities avoid infection and get back to more safe day-to-day activities – hasn’t changed either. Avoid gatherings. Wear a facemask. Avoid spending time with non-household members. Stay at home whenever – whenever – you can. These are best and indeed our only tools as we seek to prevent and minimize the illness and suffering and death so many of our neighbors in this state continue to grapple with.”

No matter a county’s level, the following requirements remain in place statewide:

  • Facemasks are required to be worn in public.
  • Businesses that accrue a significant number of positive COVID-19 cases within their workforce in a two-week span are subject to temporary closure by the Department of Health.
  • An essential business may be permitted to continue operating if the Department of Health and Environment Department determine the business is a necessary provider of goods or services within the community in light of geographic considerations.
  • Businesses that test each employee every two weeks and regularly provide contact training data to the Environment Department shall not be subject to closure under this framework
  • This applies only to food and drink establishments; close-contact businesses; places of lodging; retail spaces; and other other businesses which members of the public regularly visit.
  • The closure process is triggered if four or more rapid responses occur within a 14-day period.
  • Businesses and nonprofits must adhere to the state’s COVID-Safe Practices.