New Mexico Environment Department Cabinet Secretary James Kenney said at last week’s press conference with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham NMED is currently conducting over 80 percent of the state’s rapid responses.

“Our Occupational Health and Safety Bureau has always ensured safe work conditions for employees,” Kenney said. “The Bureau’s role in rapid responses today is no different, and we continue to work harder than ever to protect New Mexicans in the workplace.”

Rapid responses are conducted at businesses where an employee or employees test positive for COVID-19. More than 800 rapid responses have been conducted throughout New Mexico so far. According to an update Monday in the Albuquerque Journal, rapid response data published by the NMED shows that nearly 1,000 employees at 840 businesses across the state tested positive for the virus from May 11 to July 23. This translates to roughly five percent of the state’s total infected population.

Restaurants make up 15 percent of the New Mexico businesses with at least one COVID-19 positive employee – more than any other industry in the state.

When the state is notified of positive cases, the Occupational Health and Safety Bureau at the Environment Department contacts the employer immediately to ensure they are taking appropriate steps to protect employees and customers against the further spread of COVID-19.

Officials say that NMED does not determine the location an employee gets infected.

A rapid response usually requires employers to: Temporarily cease operations.

• Test some or all employees.

• Retest employees at a later time.

• Disinfect the workplace.

• Ensure a safety plan that encompasses New Mexico’s COVID-Safe Practices is in place and implemented.

In addition, the NMED has temporarily suspended food service permits at least eight New Mexico restaurants in the last two weeks for not following the state mandate to cease indoor dining.

If anyone feels that their workplace is not adequately protecting its employees, contact the Occupational Health and Safety Bureau at 505-476-8700 or email complaints.osha@state.nm.us. All contact remains anonymous.