Chaves County transitions to Level Turquoise

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Chaves County finally transitioned to Level Turquoise Wednesday after being the last remaining county in Level Green.

For restaurant owners in Roswell, they said the journey to Level Turquoise has been a long one.

"It’s been tough, but we’re, I mean, we’re definitely thankful for sure,” said Paul Thompson, owner of Backdraft BBQ.

Restaurants across Chaves County can now operate at 75 percent indoor capacity.

“It’s definitely a sense of relief for sure. There is at least light at the end of the tunnel,” Thompson said.

The latest update is also a light at the end of the tunnel for Roswell High School seniors, who are getting ready to graduate this week.

"What that helps for us for our first graduation, which starts tonight. We can now use 75% of our Wool Bowl capacity, so that’s 2,800 on each side so we can have a lot of people at our graduation,” said Mike Gottlieb, superintendent of Roswell Independent School District.

Like other parts of the state, Chaves County has been struggling with bringing people back to work.

"There’s all kinds of things that businesses try to do to motivate people to come to work, and until we can fix that, I think being fully open as much as we’d like it to be is going to be challenging," said Mike Espiritu, with the Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corporation.

Despite the struggle, Chaves County is excited about the loosened restrictions.

"I’m optimistic we’re moving forward,” Espiritu said.

Chaves County’s vaccination rate is nearly 36 percent, and remains one of the lowest vaccination rates across the state. Despite the low rate, the county’s test positivity rate is just below 3 percent.