NM Announces Color-Coded Re-Opening Guidelines on a County-by-County Basis

San Juan County (as well as 31 of the state's other 33 counties) is currently in the very high risk red category.

See the NM Red-Yellow-Green re-opening guidelines here.


From the Office of NM Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham

Friday, November 27, 2020

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.

More from COVID-19/Coronavirus

  • Daily NM COVID-19 Statistics: 164,263 (+628) cases, 2,958 Deaths (+26)

    There were 62 new COVID 19 cases and five additional deaths in San Juan County reported on Monday by the Department of Health

  • *Updated* Navajo Nation Active COVID-19 Cases Total: 26,448 (+65), 922 Deaths (+3)

    The total number of deaths is now 922 as of Monday. Reports indicate that 13,532 individuals have recovered from COVID-19, and 223,323 COVID-19 tests have been administered. The total number of positive COVID-19 cases is now 26,448.

  • Navajo Nation Extends Stay-At-Home Order to Jan. 25

    * Re-implements full 57-hour weekend lockdowns for two additional weekends that include: 8:00 P.M. MST through 5:00 A.M. MST on January 15, 2021 through January 18, 2021, and for the same hours on January 22, 2021 through January 25, 2021. * Essential businesses including gas stations, grocery stores, laundromats, restaurants and food establishments that provide drive-thru and curbside services, and hay vendors can operate from 7:00 a.m. (MST) to 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday only.

  • COVID-19 Vaccine enters Phase 1b in NM

    This means that the vaccine will be available to New Mexicans in the following sequence:  -Individuals 75 years of age and older  -Individuals 16 or older with underlying medical conditions that place them at greater risk from COVID-19 -Frontline essential workers who cannot work remotely  -Vulnerable populations (residents of congregate care settings) Individuals in Phase 1A can continue to schedule vaccinations as well.

  • NM Increases Capacity Limits for Essential Retailers

    • 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.

  • COVID-19 Vaccine Arrives in San Juan County

    San Juan Regional Medical Center has received the first of two doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. This vaccine must be stored at -70° C. Ultra-cold freezers are on-site to ensure that all of our vaccine allotment is properly stored until it can be administered. Our plan is to administer the vaccine to our caregivers through a tiered approach. The second dose will be administered three weeks after the first dose.

  • COVID-19 Infections reported at Detention Center, County Offices

    As of Monday morning, there are a total of 13 County-employed individuals who have tested positive for the coronavirus, including one in the Assessor’s Office, one in the Treasurer’s Office, and eight at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center. The remaining individuals work in departments with no interaction with the public. The individuals in the Assessor’s Office and Treasurer’s Office have not been in the office during a time when they may have been contagious.

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