Gov. sets ‘Opening Day’ in two weeks, allowing for recent shots to take full effect; aggressive vaccination push will continue
SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday confirmed New Mexico will retire its color-coded, county-by-county system and all COVID-19 health restrictions on commercial and day-to-day activity in two weeks, allowing for the thousands of vaccinations administered this week as part of a statewide public health push to take full effect.
At the Turquoise Level, the state is already broadly “open,” and counties where the virus has been sufficiently suppressed have been operating with minimal to no restrictions dating back months, but July 1 is the date of the comprehensive end of pandemic restrictions in New Mexico.
Beginning July 1, all pandemic-related occupancy restrictions on all forms of commercial activity will be lifted. All businesses across the state may once again operate at 100 percent of maximum capacity.
Businesses may still adopt and require additional precautions for employees and/or patrons, at their discretion, and are still advised to enact whatever social distancing and facemasking measures may be appropriate to ensure the health and safety of customers and staff, in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance.
As of July 1, all limitations on mass gatherings will be gone. Businesses, large events and organizations may operate at 100 percent of maximum capacity, whether indoor or outdoor.
There have been no state travel restrictions or requirements since mid-February.
Facemasks, in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance, have not been required in New Mexico for individuals who have completed their vaccination series since May 14.
The state will continue to follow CDC guidance with respect to face-coverings: Masks will remain required for unvaccinated individuals, and businesses, workplaces and tribes may continue to require masks for employees, customers or visitors on the premises, regardless of vaccination status, at their discretion.
The governor and state health officials this spring set a target of 60 percent of eligible New Mexicans having completed their vaccination series to shed pandemic restrictions once and for all. The state administration has been among the national leaders in vaccine usage and distribution throughout the months long vaccination effort, and in recent weeks has made a major additional push all throughout the state, enhancing financial vaccine incentives for individuals and local governments, as well as advertising and marketing outreach.
As of midday June 18, with state vaccination data through end of day Thursday, June 17, in hand, the New Mexico Department of Health reports 59.4 percent of eligible New Mexicans have completed their vaccination series, with more data still to come in. The state is anticipating a new batch of federal vaccination data for New Mexico residents receiving their shots from federal entities, which often lags by several days, by Sunday, June 20, as well as New Mexicans’ completed vaccination data from the neighboring state of Texas. In effect, state health officials said, so far as there is a “margin of error” in vaccination data, the state is well within it with respect to the 60 percent target.
“Frankly, we need to be better than 60 percent fully vaccinated,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “The variants across the globe and in the U.S. present very serious risks to unvaccinated people, even young people. We all, each of us, have the power to stop the serious illnesses and deaths: Get your shot. It’s safe. It works. It’s that simple. Don’t wait for COVID to infect you or someone you love and wish you’d decided differently.
“This week was a particularly productive week for our vaccination efforts. We will continue to push forward with getting shots into arms, and we need everyone – all New Mexicans – to continue to help mitigate vaccine hesitancy and resistance by sharing productive, data-backed information about the safety and efficacy of these vaccines with family and friends. Disinformation kills. We have to keep pushing back.”
“I know some will say this day is late in coming. I sure wish we’d gotten here sooner. I said all along: Vaccines are the way out, getting shots gets us there quicker. We were always going to put health and safety first. All along we have taken the approach that will protect the most New Mexicans, knowing the unique health risks of our population, understanding and respecting how dangerous this virus is. I believe, on the whole, New Mexicans made the right public health decisions in their day-to-day lives, following the science and helping us get to this point quickly and, more importantly, as safely as we possibly could.
“All that said, this is an exciting announcement. We’re rounding up, setting a date for a conclusive introduction of the new normal: July 1. We have made incredible progress, and I’m proud of New Mexico. The simple fact is: We are beating this pandemic. The best is yet to come. It would not have been possible without the commitment and sacrifice of so many in our state. We looked out for one another. We made the tough choices. We did this together – with the fortitude and perseverance and compassion that makes us who we are as New Mexicans. I firmly believe limitless possibility awaits us on the other side of this crisis, and I am confident that, continuing to work together, for the betterment of all New Mexico workers and families, we will be a national model for recovery, growth and new opportunity. I greatly look forward to Opening Day in two weeks, and I hope tens of thousands more New Mexicans come forward for their vaccines by that day.”
“We will continue to work with vaccine providers in and outside of New Mexico to be sure that every single vaccination is counted,” said Human Services Secretary David Scrase, M.D. “We are grateful to all New Mexicans who have stepped up to receive their shots and who have called us to provide their data. We believe our level of immunity is in fact greater than 60 percent, including the immunity of those in our state who have had COVID-19 and have not been vaccinated, and those who have had a mild infection as well. For all practical purposes, we have met the governor’s 60 percent goal, and we need to keep up our efforts to increase vaccinations and enhance good public health practices throughout the summer.”
“We are learning that just receiving the first of two vaccines in a series is not enough to protect you against some of the highly infectious variants,” said Health Secretary Tracie Collins, M.D. “So if you have had only one Pfizer or Moderna vaccination, please, schedule your booster shot today. And help us keep moving forward, and keep your family and your neighbors safe.”
The state will continue to promote and execute COVID-19 vaccinations all across the state.
All New Mexicans age 12+ are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine and are strongly encouraged to schedule their vaccine appointment today at vaccineNM.org or by calling 1-855-600-3453. Parents of New Mexicans age 12-15 are encouraged to register their child for the approved Pfizer vaccine at vaccineNM.org.
The state’s Vax 2 the Max Sweepstakes, including five $1 million drawings (for New Mexicans who have received at least one vaccine shot) and a $5 million grand prize (for New Mexicans who have completed their vaccination series), continues; vaccinated New Mexicans who would like a chance to win must opt in to the sweepstakes at vax2themaxNM.org.
As of June 14, New Mexico counties with the best rate of individuals that have completed their vaccination series, and helped pull the state to the 60 percent mark, are:
- Los Alamos County: 81.5 percent
- McKinley County: 77.9 percent
- Taos County: 69.7 percent
- Rio Arriba: 67.5 percent
- Santa Fe County: 67 percent
- Sandoval County: 65.6 percent
- Cibola County: 64.2 percent
- Bernalillo County: 62.2 percent
- San Juan County: 61.7 percent
- Guadalupe County: 60.9 percent
As of June 14, the New Mexico counties with the worst completed vaccination rates, and where risk of infection and illness are thus highest, are:
- Roosevelt County: 28.3 percent
- Curry County: 34.4 percent
- Torrance County: 35.5 percent
- Eddy County: 35.7 percent
- Quay County: 37.2 percent