SANTA FE, New Mexico -- Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and her cabinet on Thursday unveiled new criteria to be met before more re-openings of the economy can be considered.
The target is a seven-day average of 168 new Covid-19 daily cases or less.
Dr. David Scrase, cabinet secretary of the New Mexico Human Services Department, said the target number balances the "acceptable level of disease spread" to maintain essential societal services including schools.
He noted that the state's 7-day average is currently coming down "quite rapidly from our highest peak we've had."
On Thursday, New Mexico reported 177 new virus cases to take the state's cumulative case count to 22,987. Of those 21 new cases occurred in Doña Ana County, whose total caseload hit 2,572.
There were also 2 additional deaths reported across the state Thursday for a total of 697 fatalities since the start of the pandemic. Doña Ana County's fatality count held firm at 31.
The current test positivity rate in New Mexico is about 2.5%, which officials said was the lowest among all western states. But a cause for concern is that nearly 16% of cases in New Mexico involve people under the age of 20, which Scrase indicated is higher than the rest of the country.
Lujan Grisham warned that family gatherings and long holiday weekends have been a source of infection for many New Mexicans who have contracted Covid-19 and that they make for the worst possible situation as health officials look to reduce the spread of the virus.
With Labor Day approaching, she asked everyone to “buckle down” and stick to the five-person limit mandated by the state's public health order.
“It is not worth the risk,” she said during her Thursday afternoon briefing.
Meantime, the governor noted that the Covid-19 pandemic was having a serious impact on the state's participation in the U.S. 2020 Census. She said New Mexico currently ranks last among all 50 states in terms of getting census forms turned in.
The governor said if New Mexico residents don't improve their response rate, the state will lose millions of dollars in federal funds for schools, roads and other infrastructure projects over the next 10 years.
Below you can see county-by-county data for virus cases and deaths across New Mexico. The data comes from Johns Hopkins University, so the numbers may sometimes vary a bit from what's reported by the state health department. (The Associated Press contributed to this report.)