This map shows the color-coded map of county coronavirus restriction levels. Courtesy of the New Mexico Department of Health.

New Mexico Human Services Department Secretary Dr. David Scrase isn’t clairvoyant, but during a Zoom media conference Wednesday, he predicted the entire state will be in either Green or Turquoise “by the end of May, at the latest.”
But also that day, he indicated he was “disappointed” to see “nine counties that went backward.”
Earlier Wednesday, the state Department of Health announced the updated statewide COVID-19 map for the next two-week period, with 14 New Mexico counties at the Turquoise Level and three at the Green Level, at which there are fewer restrictions on commercial and day-to-day activities amid decreased virus risk.
Fifteen counties are at the Yellow Level, including Sandoval County and neighboring Bernalillo County, but there’s again a Red county — Colfax — signifying the highest risk.
The counties advancing to a less-restrictive level are Cibola, Guadalupe, Hidalgo, Otero and San Miguel. The counties regressing to Yellow were Catron, Chaves, Eddy, Harding, Lincoln, Rio Arriba, Sierra and Socorro.
Scrase said New Mexico is devising a new method to judge COVID risk in various counties and the ensuing level of restrictions — a change that could be ready within two weeks. Vaccination data may help improve the numbers — and “colors” —for more-populous counties, including Sandoval and Bernalillo.
Dr. Tracie Collins, DOH secretary, said the state has matched supply with demand, and 56 percent of those 16 and older in the state have had at least one shot, while 38 percent are fully vaccinated. Nationally, the 200 million dose mark was achieved Wednesday.
Scrase urged anyone postponing health care to get it: “Hospitals are safe, (so) now is the time.”
As for “herd immunity,” a theoretical goal for the nation and New Mexico, Scrase said, “We don’t know what the magic number is.”

Hey, kids: Get your shots
The state’s DOH and Public Education Department announced Thursday that “Student COVID-19 Vaccination Week” will be May 3-8. Students ages 16 and older will get priority for making appointments on the NMDOH COVID-19 Vaccine Registration System (vaccineNM.org).
“Vaccinating against this virus protects students’ health and the health of the school community,” PED Secretary Ryan Stewart said. “Additionally, once students are fully vaccinated, they won’t have to quarantine if they’re identified as close contacts of someone with COVID-19. That could help reduce school closures in the future.”

Schedule yourself 
Beginning Monday, all New Mexicans 16 years and older will be able to self-schedule vaccination appointments online, with no event code.
To schedule a vaccination appointment, register online at VaccineNM.org. Vaccinations for New Mexicans under age 18 require parental consent; Pfizer is the only vaccine available for students ages 16-17.

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Gary Herron | Observer staff writer