Updated: November 30, 2020 10:14 PM
Created: November 30, 2020 10:11 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Many New Mexico counties are far off from reaching the gating criteria to move into less restriction COVID tiers, but state officials believe counties can reach those tiers sooner than expected.
On Monday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham provided more details on the state’s new Red to Green reopening system, which will go into effect Wednesday.
According to a local biostatistician, he estimated that it’ll take months for counties just to move out of the red tier, but Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said she thinks that outlook is off.
"I don't agree with that stark prediction,” the governor said.
"We have the power to do it differently, and we've demonstrated that we've done it better than most states and most of the modeling,” she added.
Gov. Lujan Grisham said she thinks New Mexico can meet the gating criteria a lot sooner and said January, February and March are possibilities.
"We're, I think, winning over folks who weren't sure if it was really as serious of a threat as it was,” she said.
The governor, along with Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase, said the goals they’ve laid out are globally accepted for reopening businesses.
"The eight cases per 100,000 is actually sort of liberal, on the high side, of a borderline between yellow and green,” Dr. Scrase said.
In the past, the state faced criticism for not initially taking a county-by-county approach, so why is it being used now?
"You want to have sort of this incentivized approach where businesses get an opportunity to work with local leaders to move us forward in this way. So, I'm very hopeful about this strategy,” she said.
The governor has previously said this strategy could lead to people traveling to counties with looser restrictions for services. She said that is still a risk, but this is the best way to move forward.
KOB 4 asked the governor why the evaluation period is two weeks, and the state said it’s because they don’t want businesses to yo-yo back and forth too often. The governor also said that this will be a rolling system.
"You don't have to wait until the end of the two weeks. As you move toward the least restrictive environment, you're ready to go,” she said.
Amid soaring COVID hospital rates, KOB 4 also asked the governor’s office why some business restrictions will be loosened. A spokesperson for the governor sent the following statement:
"New Mexico is by no means out of the woods. The unfortunate fact of the matter is we—and no state, no country—can simply 'lock down' for the duration of the pandemic. Nor can we simply 'open' everything back up full bore."
When asked why a limit was created for the number of vehicles in gatherings, state officials said they’re worried about concessions and restrooms at drive-in events, and said there’s still a risk of spreading the virus.
During the Monday update on the Red to Green system, Dr. Scrase estimated there would be an average daily death toll between 15 and 46 for the next two weeks.
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