This map shows New Mexico counties and their color-coded risk designations. Courtesy of the State of New Mexico.

The New Mexico Department of Health on April 7 announced the updated statewide COVID-19 map, with 20 New Mexico counties at the Turquoise Level and three at the Green Level, with fewer restrictions on commercial and day-to-day activities for at least the next two weeks.
Ten counties, including Sandoval and Bernalillo, are at the Yellow Level, with none at the Red Level, signifying the highest risk.
Counties that met both health metric thresholds for two consecutive map updates may operate at the Turquoise Level. Counties that meet both health metrics for one update are at the Green Level.
More information about the red-to-green framework is at cv.nmhealth.org/redtogreen.
During the April 7 webinar on the state Department of Human Services Facebook page, Aging and Long-Term Services Secretary Katrina Hutrum-Lopez said long-term care facility deaths have dropped from about 10 a day a few months ago to one or fewer each day.
In other news, Human Services Department Secretary Dr. David Scrase said the state will provide about $170 million of federal funds to New Mexico households needing help with rent and utility bills due to the pandemic. Learn more at RentHelpNM.org.
“I sincerely hope we spend the entire $170 million,” Scrase said.

Vaccine registration
Department of Health Secretary Dr. Tracie Collins said that although the state isn’t expecting as many doses of vaccine in the coming weeks as in past weeks, 829,000 New Mexicans have registered to get COVID immunizations and the state still leads the nation in the percentage of vaccine received and dispensed.
New Mexico has given at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine to half of its population age 16 or older, she said. Thirty-one percent of New Mexicans are fully vaccinated.
Scrase said that as reported by the Associated Press, nearly half of new coronavirus infections nationwide are in five states, putting pressure on the federal government to consider sending more vaccine doses to hot spots. New York, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey together reported 44 percent of the nation’s new COVID-19 infections, or nearly 197,500 cases, in the latest available seven-day period.
Johns Hopkins University compiled the data, noting that total U.S. infections during the same week numbered more than 452,000. New Mexico has had fewer than 300 daily cases since March 6, with 11 or fewer cases in Sandoval County for each of the first eight days in April — and no new fatalities.

Closing in on 100 percent
“The DOH announced April 6 that the state has invited more than 99 percent of Phase 1 registrants for vaccine appointments,” Collins said. “DOH has been prioritizing invitations to early-phase vaccine registrants — and we will continue to reach out via text, email, phone calls and other methods until everyone who wants a vaccine has received it.”
She said the DOH prioritizing invitations for New Mexicans age 75-plus and seniors with a chronic condition.

Surface spread low
Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidelines on the dangers of coronavirus infection from touching surfaces: The risk is extremely low.
Now the belief is that the virus spreads almost entirely through the air. Updated guidelines from the CDC say chemical disinfectants are not needed to keep surface transmission low — just hand-washing, mask-wearing and, mostly, cleaning surfaces with soap and water.

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Gary Herron | Observer staff writer