As Bernalillo County heads toward green reopening level, data expert weighs in on outlook

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The COVID-19 numbers in Bernalillo County show the area continues to move toward the green level for reopening, which is the tier with the loosest restrictions.

The graph below shows the average daily number of cases for each week over about the last three months in Bernalillo County.

After reporting around 700 cases per day in late November, the county now has a 7-day average of 117 cases as of Thursday afternoon, which shows improvement, but still lands above the mark of about 54 cases needed to reach the green level.

The state began the red-to-green framework in December, creating two requirements for counties to reach the green level. For two weeks, they would have to both have a positivity rate below 5% and stay below an average of 8 cases per 100,000 people.

As for that last metric, Bernalillo County’s 7-day average of 117 cases comes out to 17 cases per 100,000 residents.

For more perspective, KOB 4 talked to Hubert Allen, a biostatistician in New Mexico who graduated from the Johns Hopkins program that’s putting out national information on COVID-19.

“We’ve had a very precipitous decline in this highest spike of the outbreak,” he said.

He wonders if some people shied away from getting tested during the recent winter storms, but he believes the data is promising nonetheless.

When asked when Bernalillo County may jump into the green level, Allen said, “I would still say it’s four to six weeks if you want to pin me down.”

New Mexico Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase said the vaccine will help prevent a future uptick and people’s behavior could too.

“Will human nature change? And I think it could. I think we learn. We saw what happened when we let our guard down last time and the time before that, and I think a lot of people lost family members and friends in that big third wave.”

State leaders stress that all New Mexicans need to keep using safety precautions.