All 33 New Mexico counties are at the Turquoise level, the lowest level of COVID-19 restrictions. Courtesy of New Mexico Department of Health.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on June 2 authorized the execution of a new statewide public health order that places all 33 of the state’s counties at the least-restrictive Turquoise Level, which reflects significantly decreased risk of COVID transmission statewide.
The Department of Health one day earlier reported 380 new COVID-19 cases covering a cumulative weekend reporting period of May 29-June 1 — an average of fewer than 100 cases each day.
With New Mexico’s vaccination progress, plus the continued positive outlook on new virus cases, counties will stay Turquoise, barring exceptional circumstances — such as an unforeseen mass outbreak — for the duration of the state’s color-coded county-by-county system.
The color-coded system will be phased out after 60 percent of the state’s eligible population has been vaccinated and two weeks, allowing for the vaccinations to take full effect, have passed.
In a DOH update via Facebook on June 2, it was noted that 55.8 percent of eligible New Mexican are fully vaccinated.
“It’s exciting to see when we can relax the rules,” said Dr. David Scrase, secretary of the state’s Department of Human Services. “(We’re) getting close to normal life.”
But, he cautioned for those wary of getting the shot, there is a “pandemic among the unvaccinated” — and you have a 10-times greater risk of being hospitalized if not vaccinated.
“We’re almost there,” Lujan Grisham said. “New Mexicans are making the right choices: Getting vaccinated so we can all safely resume our lives and so our small businesses and economy can roar back to life. Please encourage your friends and family to register if they haven’t already — and keep up the hard work as, all together, we push toward ending the worst of the pandemic.”
Still, authorities recommend that all individuals, including those fully vaccinated, should continue to wear well-fitted masks where required by localities, tribal entities and individual businesses.

Get a shot, maybe win prizes
Lujan Grisham, the New Mexico Department of Health and the New Mexico Lottery announced June 2 that the state’s Vax 2 the Max Sweepstakes, a statewide vaccination incentive program, will make available $10 million in total prize money to New Mexicans who receive their COVID-19 vaccinations, among other prizes and awards throughout the summer.
New Mexicans can register and schedule their COVID-19 vaccinations at vaccinenm.org. To be eligible for the cash sweepstakes, New Mexicans who receive or have received their COVID-19 shots must opt in to register and verify their personal and vaccination information at vax2themaxnm.org.
“Getting vaccinated is the right thing to do — for yourself, for your family and for your state,” said Lujan Grisham. “I’m excited to add a little fun to our nation-leading vaccination push.”
Vaccinated New Mexicans who have opted into the sweepstakes will be part of five weekly drawings beginning in mid-June.
Each weekly drawing will award one $250,000 prize from each of the state’s four public health regions, for a total of $1 million in cash prizes each week. A grand prize of $5 million will be awarded in early August, to one winner drawn from the statewide pool of vaccinated New Mexicans who have opted in to the sweepstakes.
The New Mexico Lottery will conduct the cash sweepstakes drawings on behalf of the Lujan Grisham administration. Prizes include 18 in-state “staycation” travel packages, ranging in value from $600 to $1,100; fishing and hunting licenses; annual day-use passes for New Mexico state parks; and day-use passes for New Mexico state museums and cultural sites
To be eligible to win, individuals must be at least 18 years old and residents of New Mexico. Employees of the New Mexico Lottery and the Office of the Governor, as well as state employees appointed by the governor and members of these employees’ households, are not eligible to participate.
Winners will be required to produce their CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card upon claiming their prize.

County numbers still improving
The COVID-19 death toll continues to drop in Sandoval County, from 51 in January to four in May.
Of May’s four deaths, two were reported May 7: A male in his 40s with underlying conditions and a female in her 90s, a resident of The Retreat facility in Rio Rancho.
Another was reported May 11: a female in her 70s who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions; and the last was on May 25, a female in her 60s with underlying conditions.
New cases in Sandoval County have also decreased this spring, down from 472 in April — with a high of 40 for the weekend of May 1-2 and a low of two May 27.
The DOH update on June 2 noted that 63.3 percent of those eligible to be vaccinated in the county have done so. Averaging about 5,000 daily tests for COVID through May 31, about 7.5 percent of those have tested positive.

Gary Herron | Observer staff writer