Department of Health county map update: 32 counties operating at Red Level beginning Dec. 30

Catron County reaches Yellow Level; several counties near Green Level

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The New Mexico Department of Health on Wednesday announced the updated statewide COVID-19 map for the two-week period beginning Dec. 30, with 32 counties at the Red Level. Twenty-eight counties improved in at least one of the two health gating criteria metrics, and 21 counties improved in both health metrics. More counties are in close range of advancing to a less-restrictive level than at any point since the advent of the state’s color-coding system.

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. 

Catron County now meets the criteria to operate at the Yellow Level, with a per-capita new daily case rate of 5.7 per 100,000. No counties meet the criteria to operate at the Green Level at present, though Catron County, Harding County, Los Alamos County and Quay County are all near that threshold.

Fourteen counties have now driven their case positivity rate below 10 percent, bordering on the state’s 5 percent threshold for operating at the Yellow Level. 

The color-coding of the map, in accordance with the state’s emergency public health order, is updated biweekly on Wednesdays. The next update is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan 13. The map and other associated demographic COVID-19 data are available at cv.nmhealth.org.

IMPROVING PER-CAPITA CASE RATES: 

Over the past two weeks, 28 counties saw improvements in their per-capita daily case rates. Those counties are: Bernalillo, Catron, Chaves, Colfax, Curry, De Baca, Dona Ana, Eddy, Guadalupe, Hidalgo, Lea, Lincoln, Los Alamos, Luna, McKinley, Otero, Quay, Rio Arriba, Sandoval, San Juan, San Miguel, Santa Fe, Sierra, Socorro, Taos, Torrance, Union and Valencia, with Catron, Quay, Union, Otero and Lincoln making the greatest improvements by percentage.

The counties of Cibola, Grant, Mora and Roosevelt saw an increase in their daily per-capita case rates over the past two weeks. 

Catron County has the lowest average daily per-capita case rates, at 5.7 per 100,000 as of Dec. 30. It is followed by Harding County (10.1), Quay County (16.7), Los Alamos County (20.5) and Otero County (23). The state threshold for moving to a less restrictive level is 8 per 100,000.

IMPROVING POSITIVITY RATES: 

Over the past two weeks, 21 counties saw improvements in their positivity rates. Those counties are: Bernalillo, Catron, Chaves, Colfax, Curry, De Baca, Dona Ana, Guadalupe, Lea, Lincoln, Los Alamos, Luna, Otero, Quay, Rio Arriba, Sandoval, Santa Fe, Sierra, Torrance, Union and Valencia, with Catron, Quay, Lincoln, Sierra and De Baca making the greatest improvements by percentage. 

The counties of Cibola, Eddy, Grant, Hidalgo, McKinley, Mora, Roosevelt, San Juan, San Miguel, Socorro and Taos saw an increase in their test positivity rate over the past two weeks.

Los Alamos County has the lowest positivity rate in the state, with 5.22 percent of tests returning positive as of Dec. 30. It is followed by Sierra County (6.27 percent), Otero County (6.4 percent), Taos County (6.7 percent), Catron County (6.7), Quay County (6.7 percent), San Miguel County (6.9 percent), Santa Fe County (7.16 percent), Lincoln County (7.6 percent) and Grant County (7.7 percent). The state threshold for moving to a less restrictive level is 5 percent.

POPULOUS COUNTIES:

The state’s five most populous counties -- Bernalillo, Dona Ana, Santa Fe, Sandoval and San Juan -- each improved in both health metrics over the past two weeks, with the exception of San Juan, which improved its daily per-capita case rate but saw a slight increase in test positivity.

Bernalillo cut its daily case rate from 81.6 per 100,000 to 53.8 per 100,000, a decrease of 34 percent, and its positivity rate from 14.3 percent to 11.32 percent, a decrease of 21 percent.

Dona Ana cut its daily case rate from 56.6 per 100,000 to 43.7 per 100,000, a decrease of 23 percent, and its positivity rate from 12.86 percent to 12.82 percent.

Santa Fe cut its daily case rate from 59 per 100,000 to 34 per 100,000, a decrease of 42 percent, and its positivity rate from 10.1 percent to 7.16 percent, a decrease of 29 percent.

Sandoval cut its daily case rate from 73.2 per 100,000 to 56.7 per 100,000, a decrease of 23 percent, and its positivity rate from 12.1 percent to 10.5 percent, a decrease of 14 percent.

San Juan cut its daily case rate from 108.6 per 100,000 to 94 per 100,000, a decrease of 13 percent; meanwhile, its positivity rate rose from 19.3 percent to 19.46 percent.

The color-coded tier system -- Red Level, Yellow Level and Green Level -- enables counties to shed burdensome restrictions and provide local communities the flexibility to operate more day-to-day activities as soon as public health data show the virus is retreating within their borders.

The public health order, the red-to-green framework and frequently asked questions are all available at cv.nmhealth.org/redtogreen, where New Mexicans can also view the test positivity rate and new case incidence for each county as of Dec. 2.