As the Christmas season approaches, the governor has introduced her “Red to Green” framework in response to the COVID-19 pandemic — a tiered system she says will give local communities more flexibility in day-to-day activities.
The red-yellow-green system puts counties into one of the three categories — very high risk, high risk and medium risk, respectively.
During her briefing Monday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham called the state’s nearly 100,000 cumulative positive cases “startling.” She also announced 28 new deaths — one of which was a man in his 60s from Valencia County — as well as 876 patients hospitalized, 146 of which are on ventilators.
“We lost two people in their 30s with no underlying conditions. This information is not in the daily updates to provide gruesome details but to remind everyone, again, this virus doesn’t care how old you are, what political party you are, you gender. This virus can be deadly for anyone,” said Lujan Grisham. “It is particularly precarious for those with underlying conditions and the elderly. We are learning about the long-term impacts; there are underlying conditions that stay far longer than the virus and can be deadly for anyone.”
As of Tuesday, Dec., 1, 32 of the state’s 33 counties were at the red level. Los Alamos County was at the yellow level.
No matter a county’s level, the following requirements remain in place statewide:
• Face masks 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 New Mexico 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 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.
In Valencia County, from Nov. 10 to 23, the most recent data available, the two-week average for new cases was at 103.5 cases per 100,000 people, and the average positivity rate was 20.07 percent.
Counties at the red level have more than eight new cases per 100,000 people, and an average positivity rate of more than 5 percent.
Yellow counties have either no more than eight new cases per capita or a two-week average of 5 percent positivity.
To get to green, counties have to achieve both less than eight new cases per capita and a 5 percent average positivity rate for a two-week average.
An amended emergency public health order was executed Monday, Nov. 30, giving the “Red to Green” framework an effective date of Wednesday, Dec. 2.
Download PDF Red to Green COVID-19 framework
The tiered system allows operational levels for businesses and activities are:
Essential, non-essential retail
Red Level: 25 percent of maximum occupancy or 75 customers, whichever is less
Yellow Level: 25 percent or 125 customers, whichever is less
Green Level: 50 percent occupancy
Food and drink establishments
Red Level: No indoor dining, outdoor dining at 25 percent, alcohol served until 9 p.m.
Yellow Level: Indoor dining at 25 percent, outdoor at 75 percent, alcohol until 10 p.m.
Green Level: Indoor dining at 50 percent, outdoor at 75 percent
Places of lodging
Red Level: 40 percent of maximum occupancy for those that are New Mexico Safe Certified, 25 percent for those that are not, five guests max for vacation rentals
Yellow Level: 60 percent of maximum occupancy for those that are New Mexico Safe Certified, 40 percent for those that are not, five guests max for vacation rentals
Green Level: 75 percent of maximum occupancy for those that are New Mexico Safe Certified, 40 percent for those that are not, 10 guests max for vacation rentals
Houses of worship
Red Level: 25 percent of maximum occupancy
Yellow Level: 25 percent
Green Level: 50 percent
Red Level: 5 people, 10 vehicles
Yellow Level: 10 people, 25 vehicles
Green Level: 20 people, 100 vehicles
Close contact businesses (Gyms, salons, etc.)
Red Level: 25 percent of maximum occupancy or 10 customers, whichever is less
Yellow Level: 25 percent of maximum occupancy or 20 customers, whichever is less
Green Level: 50 percent of maximum occupancy
Outdoor recreation (golf courses)
Red Level: 25 percent maximum occupancy
Yellow Level: 25 percent of maximum occupancy
Green Level: 50 percent maximum occupancy
Close contact recreational facilities, such as movie theaters and concert venues, remain closed at all three levels.
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.
The map will be updated ever other Wednesday, starting Dec. 2.
If a county doesn’t meet the specified metrics for a given level at 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 immediately after the map update.
The governor issued a reminder to New Mexicans.
“The virus is still here, still deadly and highly contagious,” she said. “We are working to manage it and we all have to do our part. We have to stay vigilant and work together to move the entire state to green.”
More information about the tiered restrictions can be found at cv.nmhealth.org/redtogreen.
Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.