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It’s the best news we’ve had in more than a year, in the world’s battle vs. COVID-19: Sandoval County on Friday finally got the “Green” light — meaning a lot of businesses can open a lot more, up to 50 percent in many cases.
Bernalillo County is also now Green, thanks to the state’s new criteria in its red-yellow-green-turquoise framework, announced by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in a Facebook news conference April 28.
“We’re in the home stretch. New Mexico graduates from the color-coded county risk system,” Lujan Grisham announced. “In nine weeks, we are open … and this is amazing.”
Helping re-open the Land of Enchantment have been the aggressive inoculations, with New Mexico still leading the country in the percentage of eligible residents — basically those 16 and older — vaccinated, she said.
As of April 27, 41.6 of eligible residents were fully vaccinated, with that rate expected to be at least 60 percent by the end of June.
Admitting that he goes outside unmasked — in light of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recent relaxation on mask-wearing outdoors —before sunrise on his daily walks near his home in Placitas, state Human Services Department Secretary Dr. David Scrase recommended adhering to COVID-19 safety measures.
But he noted, “We’re really in maintenance mode.”
The CDC advised that fully vaccinated Americans no longer need to wear a mask outdoors while exercising alone or in small gatherings, including with household members. But, the CDC maintained, masks are still necessary in crowded outdoor venues.
Sandoval County virus numbers are still improving. After 51 county fatalities from COVID-19 in January, those rates have dropped to 21 in February, 17 in March and, through Thursday, seven in April, according to the state. New cases in a day have been as few as six in the county.

New metrics listed
As of April 30, according to the state, the health metrics used to determine a county’s risk level are:
• A per-capita rate of new COVID-19 cases of no greater than 10 per 100,000 inhabitants over the most recent 14-day reporting period;
• An average positivity rate of 7.5 percent or less over the most recent reporting period;
• A county with a fully vaccinated rate at or above a target, beginning at 35 percent April 30 and increasing to 40 percent for the map update May 5. The target will increase 5 percent every other week.
A county that meets none of the criteria upon the biweekly state Department of Health update will be at the Red Level; a county meeting one will be Yellow; a county meeting two criteria is Green; and a county meeting all three criteria, or having maintained the Green Level for two consecutive updates, is Turquoise.

Johnson & Johnson vaccine back
New Mexico has resumed distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine since the federal government lifted the pause on it, instituted after reports of blood clots in women in rare cases after getting the shot.
The NMDOH has not received reports of any blood clots associated with the J&J vaccine in the state, according to a news release.

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Gary Herron | Observer staff writer