Health officials spoke on Wednesday during a press conference about the rollout of the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine, a new emphasis on certain areas of the state for new doses and even the decision by Texas’ governor to end that state’s mask mandate and capacity restrictions. This came ahead of the state announcing 359 new cases of COVID-19 and thirteen additional deaths related to the disease. Nearly 40 of the new cases, 37, were among inmates of the Lea County Correctional Facility, which has seen hundreds of new cases in the last few days. Department of Health Secretary Tracie Collins said the state received 17,200 doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, but would receive few, if any, vaccines in the coming weeks until the company can manufacture more doses. While she did not have the names of the counties available immediately, she said that the vaccines would be sent to ten counties with low vaccine coverage and high ratings on the CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and top state health officials had optimistic news related to the state’s COVID-19 response and vaccine distribution, during a remote press conference on Thursday. The press conference came just a day after the state eased restrictions for counties in the yellow and green levels as well as adding another level, turquoise, which would allow even less restrictive COVID rules. Related: State updates ‘Red-to-Green’ framework, including adding a ‘Turquoise’ level
“We are on the road to recovery,” Lujan Grisham said in a press conference on Thursday. “And this is exactly where we deserve to be, given our hard work.”
The state also recently celebrated administering 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine and remains one of the highest performing states in the nation when it comes to administering COVID-19. The average number of daily cases continues to fall, though a health official cautioned that reopening could cause that decrease to slow down.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said Friday she would veto legislation that would curb the power of the executive branch over extending public health orders. “In their current context, yes,” she said when asked whether she would veto such a bill. That’s not to say governors should be “omnipotent,” Lujan Grisham. “That’s why you have three branches of government. That’s why you have elections.
State health officials continued to express optimism over the trend of COVID-19 and vaccinations in the state, announcing that the state had administered over 450,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine as of Wednesday, including nearly 145,000 who have received both doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. The vaccination rate of 7 percent, Department of Health Secretary-designate Dr. Tracie Collins said, was the third-highest of any state in the country. It is also double the state’s rate from two weeks ago. “We’re focusing on vulnerable populations and communities moving forward,” Collins said. The state is still vaccinating those in the 1A and first two subphases of 1B groups, with an emphasis on those in 1A.
COVID-19 related restrictions will be eased in many parts of the state, as the number of cases continues to drop, with more than half of all counties improving out of the “red” level of restrictions. Additionally, the state announced that it would no longer require a self-quarantine for those who visit New Mexico from “high-risk” states, but will still strongly advise those who arrive from states with a five percent positivity rate or a positive test rate of over 80 people per 1 million residents. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and two cabinet officials spoke about the positive news in a press conference on Wednesday. “It’s always more fun to do these press conferences when the news is good and the news remains good,” state Human Services Department Secretary Dr. David Scrase said. “I’m very excited about our progress, you should be too,” Lujan Grisham said.