University of New Mexico President Garnett S. Stokes today applauded the continued efforts by UNM leadership and the university community to mitigate the advance of COVID-19, pointing to strict health and safety practices and protocols that have resulted in a low positivity test rate for the virus across all campuses.

“Even as cases and hospitalizations continue to rise in New Mexico and the United States, UNM has adopted model practices and protocols for health and safety that, thankfully, are keeping the Lobo community safe,” said Stokes. “While we must continue to be vigilant, I am particularly grateful to our students who have been conscientious about wearing masks and maintaining physical distancing and are responsibly refraining from holding in-person gatherings. Simply put, their diligence continues to save lives.”

Since the beginning of the Fall 2020 semester, UNM has tested more than 4,000 students and student-athletes for COVID; a total of 79 students have tested positive, for a positivity rate of less than 2%. This is a significantly lower positivity rate than the State of New Mexico or Bernalillo County, which currently stand at a positive test rate of 10.9% and 7.6%, respectively.

UNM Dean of Students Nasha Torrez said that much of the success could be attributed to UNM students, who have consistently followed campus health protocols and have taken mask-wearing seriously. “Our student mask ambassadors have handed out almost 1,000 masks to people on campus, with mostly warm responses,” said Torrez, further noting that there have also been no confirmed incidents of student parties on campus. “Our students have risen to the challenge and are doing an excellent job at adapting to limited in-person interactions, mask-wearing, responding to the daily COVID check-in, and taking care of one another,” said Torrez.

Torrez added that her office has received only three student conduct cases related to individuals refusing to comply with COVID-safe practices. While the Lobo community has been diligent about self-enforcing the mandatory mask mandate, UNM Police have, at times, been asked to step in to enforce health and safety protocols. In October, police approached 603 individuals about COVID-related protocols, with the majority of cases being resolved by self-compliance with masking or physical distancing policies.

Provost James Holloway pointed out that the UNM community has been generally diligent about self-reporting COVID-related symptoms and getting tested, when necessary. When testing is warranted, Student Health & Counseling is arranging for testing as quickly as possible. “We have staff time protected to manage these the same day that they contact us,” said Holloway, “so there should be no long waits.”

“I know it’s been a long year,” said Stokes. “but I can’t tell you how much I appreciate our faculty, staff, and students taking the threat of this virus seriously, and regularly making the sacrifices that are keeping our campus and our community safe. Every day, Lobos prove they’re looking out for their pack—and I couldn’t be prouder of everyone. Keep it up and stay safe, Lobos.”