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New Mexico shifts metrics, some virus restrictions relaxed

April 30, 2021 GMT

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Friday marked the start of New Mexico’s updated color-coded framework for determining COVID-19 risks in each of the state’s 33 counties, with state officials saying the changes are aimed at providing a more accurate picture of risk given increasing vaccination rates.

By shifting the metrics, more counties are now at a level at which there are fewer restrictions on commercial and day-to-day activities. In all, 24 counties are at the least-restrictive turquoise level, followed by six at green and three at yellow.

“As our models show, test positivity is likely to become more elastic over time, and as fewer New Mexicans will require COVID-19 testing amid increasing vaccinations, we want to provide counties the assurance that they can continue to progress in accordance with the actual risk they face,” Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase said in a statement.

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Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and top health officials said earlier this week that the state is on track to have at least 60% of residents fully vaccinated by the end of June. That will allow capacity limits at restaurants and other businesses to be lifted and the state to fully reopen.

The health metrics used to determine a county’s risk level now include a new less restrictive per-capita rate of new COVID-19 cases of no greater than 10 per 100,000 residents and a higher average positivity rate of less than or equal to 7.5% over a 14-day reporting period.

The latest state data shows more than 42% of residents 16 and older are fully vaccinated.

New Mexico on Thursday reported 255 new COVID-19 cases, with Bernalillo and San Juan counties leading the daily tally. Despite the increase, Scrase suggested during a briefing earlier this week that the state had reached a plateau and that vaccinations were helping to keep the number from going higher as more people go out and interact.