The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant reported less than five new cases of COVID-19 for the fifth week in a row and the second week with only one new infection.
The new case was reported between March 4 and March 10, and brought WIPP’s total to 258 infections
WIPP reported three workers were recovering from the virus and were not yet cleared for work.
COVID-19 numbers continued a steady decline at the nuclear waste repository near Carlsbad this week, after weeks of double-digit numbers during the fall and winter.
The downward trend, officials said, was reflective of a reduction in infections throughout the southeast region and across New Mexico.
In a statement from WIPP’s primary operations contractor Nuclear Waste Partnership, the company said it was continuing to follow COVID-19 protocols such as mask wearing at the site near the border of Eddy and Lea counties, along with teleworking when possible.
“We are very pleased to see the reduction in COVID-19 numbers in our communities and at the WIPP site, which is representative of the reduction in positive cases both statewide and locally,” the statement read.
“WIPP continues to follow all applicable federal and state COVD-19 guidelines and will continue to closely monitor conditions and COVID impacts to overall WIPP operations.”
On Thursday, Eddy County reported seven new cases of COVID-19 for a total of 6,550 infections, while Lea County had one new case for a total of 8,107.
Both counties near the WIPP site were reporting daily caseloads in or near triple digits during the fall and winter when the virus appeared to peak in New Mexico.
As of Thursday, New Mexico had a total 187,720 with 236 new cases reported that day and six deaths.
Fatalities included two men in their 70s and 80s from Bernalillo County, a woman in her 50s from Chaves County, along with a woman in her 70s from Luna County, a woman in her 40s from Sandoval County and a man in his 60s from San Juan County.
In total, New Mexico reported it had 3,845 deaths from the virus since the pandemic struck the state in March.
Meanwhile, Eddy and Lea counties’ improvement led to some COVID-19 safety restrictions being lifted as Eddy County shifted into the “yellow” designation and Lea County entered the “green” category.
This allowed for Eddy County to reopen indoor dining and allow for larger gatherings, while Lea County could now raise capacity at restaurants and other public spaces.
Counties achieve yellow status by crossing one of two thresholds, and green by crossing both – a case positivity rate of less than 5 percent and less than 8 cases per 100,000 residents.
“Even as New Mexico rapidly vaccinates eligible populations with all available supply, it is important that New Mexicans still seek out COVID-19 tests if they feel symptomatic, if they have traveled, if they have spent time unmasked in the company of others – particularly non-household members and particularly indoors,” read a statement from the office of New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.
Past COVID-19 cases at WIPP
- Feb. 25 to March 3 – One worker was reported infected, last at the site on Feb. 23.
- Feb. 18 to 24 – Two workers were infected, last at the site between Feb. 16 and 24.
- Feb. 11 to 17 – Two workers reported positive test results, last at the site between Feb. 4 and 8.
- Feb. 4 to 10 – Three WIPP were reported infected, last at the site from Jan. 27 to Feb. 8.
- Jan. 28 to Feb. 3 – Six WIPP workers were reported infected, last at the site from Jan. 18 to 28.
- Jan. 20 to 27 – Six workers with NWP were reportedly infected, last at the site from Jan. 11 to 20.
- Jan. 13 to 19 – 14 workers reported positive, last at the site between Dec. 3 and Jan. 17.
- Jan. 6 to 12 – 25 workers tested positive: 23 from NWP, one subcontractor and one from the CBFO, last at the site between March 24 and Jan. 6.
- Dec. 29 to Jan. 5 – 15 cases: 10 NWP, three subcontractors, one at CBFO and one at a CBFO subcontractor, last at the site between March 24 and Dec. 28.
- Dec. 22 and 28 – Six positives reported, all NWP employees last at site between Dec. 3 and 18.
- Dec. 16 to 21 – Nine positives reported, seven NWP employees and two from subcontractors, last at the site between Dec. 9 and Dec. 16.
- Dec. 9 to 15 – Seven positives report, six at NWP and one subcontractor last at the site between Nov. 24 and Dec. 9.
- Dec. 2 to Dec. 8 – 16 cases reported, 12 NWP, three subcontractor employees and one from the CBFO.
- Nov. 24 to Dec. 1 – Eight cases reported, seven from NWP and one subcontractor last at the site March 24 to Nov. 23.
- Nov. 18 to 23 – 13 positive cases reported, nine NWP, three subcontractor, one CBFO last at the site Oct. 26 to Nov. 19.
- Nov. 11 to Nov. 17 – 20 cases reported, 15 NWP, four subcontractor and one from CBFO, last at the site from March 24 to Nov. 12.
- Nov. 4 to Nov. 10 – 20 cases reported, 11 NWP, six subcontractor and four CBFO employees last at the site between March 24 and Nov. 8.
- Oct. 27 to Nov. 28 – Four positives reported, last at site Oct. 8 and 26.
- Oct. 18 to 26 – 17 cases reported, last at the site Oct. 3 and 23.
- Oct. 8 to 17 – 18 cases reported, last at site Sept. 17 and Oct. 14.
- Sept. 30 to Oct. 7 – Six positives reported. Three last at site Oct. 1 and others Sept. 20 to 30.
- Sept. 23 to 29 – Two positives reported, one was last at site on Sept. 16 and other not since July.
- Sept. 16 to 22 – One positive reported, last at site Sept. 16.
- Sept. 10 to 15 – Two positives. One last at site Sept. 2 and other on extended leave.
- Sept. 5 to 9 – Two positives. One NWP and one subcontractor last at site between Aug. 20 and Sept. 2.
- Sept. 2 to 3 – Four NWP employees tested positive, last at the site from Aug. 16 to 27.
- Aug. 3 to 27 – 15 NWP employees tested positive, and one worker at Regulatory Environmental Services, last at the site July 30 to Aug. 30.
- July 21 – One NWP employee tested positive, last at the site July 7
- July 9 – One CAST Specialty Trucking employee who worked at trucking terminal in Carlsbad where WIPP trucks transit tested positive.
- June 19 – One NWP employee tested positive, teleworking since March.
Adrian Hedden can be reached at 575-618-7631, [email protected] or @AdrianHedden on Twitter.