Public Health nurse Trudy Broome puts the Moderna COVID-19 vaccination into needles during a mass vaccine clinic at the City of Socorro Sports Complex on March 4.
Caitie Ihrig | El Defensor Chieftain

Socorro County has now been reclassified as Green. On Wednesday, Mar. 10, the New Mexico Department of Health recalculated the county’s positivity rate at 1.25 percent for the 14-day period of February 23 through March 8.

In the red-to-green system, a county qualifies for Green if daily cases averaged no greater than eight per 100,000, and test positivity less than or equal to five percent over a two-week period.

Socorro County falls within both metrics.

As of Tuesday, Mar. 16, Socorro County has reported 1,233 cumulative cases and 56 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

Besides Socorro, 12 other counties – more than a third of the state – reached a less restrictive level. Those counties are: De Baca, Doña Ana, Eddy, Hidalgo, Lea, Los Alamos, McKinley, Otero, Quay, Roosevelt, San Juan and Santa Fe.

The next level for Socorro to shoot for is Turquoise. Neighboring counties Catron and Sierra have already reached the Turquoise threshold.

Counties at the Turquoise Level have both a new COVID-19 case incidence rate of no greater than 8 cases per 100,000 inhabitants during the most recent four-week period, and an average percent of positive COVID-19 test results over the most recent four-week period less than or equal to 5 percent.

In the meantime, at the Green Level:

  • Essential businesses (non-retail): No capacity restrictions but operations must be limited to only those absolutely necessary to carry out essential functions
  • Essential retail spaces: 50 percent of maximum capacity, indoor and outdoor.
  • Food and drink establishments that are NM Safe Certified: 50 percent of maximum capacity for indoor dining; 75 percent of maximum capacity for outdoors dining.
  • Close-contact businesses: 50 percent of maximum capacity (indoor and outdoor).
  • Large entertainment venues: 25 percent of the maximum capacity for any indoor/outdoor enclosed space on-premises; 50 percent for any outdoor space on premises.
  • Recreational facilities: 25 percent of maximum capacity of any indoor/enclosed space on the premises; 50 percent of any outdoor space on the premises.
  • Bars and clubs: 25 percent of maximum capacity of any outdoor space on premises, where applicable; indoor not permitted.
  • All other businesses: 50 percent of maximum capacity (indoor and outdoor).
  • Houses of worship: Houses of worship: May hold religious services, indoors or outdoors, or provide services through audiovisual means, but may not exceed 50 percent of the maximum capacity of any enclosed space on the premises.
  • Places of lodging: 75 percent of maximum occupancy for those that have completed NM Safe Certified training; 40 percent of maximum occupancy for all others; 10 guests maximum for vacation rentals.
  • Mass gatherings limit: 20 persons, 120 vehicles.

If Socorro can maintain the Green Level for another two weeks, it will move to the Turquoise level. The main changes for the Turquoise level would mean:

  • Essential retail spaces: 75 percent of maximum capacity.
  • Food and drink establishments: 75 percent for indoor and outdoor dining.
  • All other businesses: 75 percent for indoors; no restrictions for outdoor.
  • Houses of worship: 75 percent for indoor.
  • Bars and clubs: 33 percent for indoor; 75 percent for outdoor.
  • Close-contact businesses: 75 percent for indoor.
  • Recreational facilities: 50 percent for indoor; 75 percent for outdoor.
  • Places of lodging: No maximum occupancy restrictions for those that have completed NM Safe Certified training; 50 percent of maximum occupancy for all others.
  • Mass gatherings limit: 150 persons, or 200 vehicles
  • Large entertainment venues: 33 percent for indoor; 75 percent for outdoor.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham marked the one-year milestone of the first COVID-19 cases in New Mexico last Thursday, Mar. 11, by saying in an online meeting:

“Reflecting on the past year, thinking back to where we were last March and all that has happened since, more than anything else I am genuinely and incredibly proud of New Mexicans,” she said. “We are processing the strains of grief, challenged by anxiety about the future, exhausted after months of uncertainty and upheaval. But we have – all of us, in our own individual way – fought for one another, stepped up to protect one another, made sacrifices for people we may never meet but whose health and safety we can take comfort in knowing we helped preserve.”

She singled out health care heroes, frontline workers, first responders, parents and educators as a “source of optimism, especially as the end of the pandemic begins to take shape ahead of us.

“New Mexico has risen to one occasion – squaring up a global pandemic, protecting and preserving our own to the very best of our ability – and will rise to the next,” Lujan Grisham said, paraphrasing Abraham Lincoln. “Amid unprecedented challenges, (Lincoln) wrote, ‘we must think anew, and act anew,’ taking up with our whole hearts the opportunity to be ambitious and remake ourselves afforded us by the circumstances.”