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Under state law, employers must report positive COVID-19 cases among employees to the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) Occupational Health and Safety Bureau (OHSB) within four hours of learning of the positive test result. The requirement to report a COVID-19 positive employee is found in Subsection 11.5.1.16 of New Mexico Administrative Code (NMAC).

In December 2020, the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) passed this rule requiring employers to report positive cases. OHSB is responsible for helping businesses understand the rule and assuring compliance. From 2020 through 2022, OHSB responded to more than 70,000 reported workplace exposures of COVID-19. Our OHSB staff helps employers protect employees, their customers and ensure continuity of business operations.

While COVID-19 remains a hazard to the New Mexico workforce, the availability of vaccines and antiviral treatments has reduced the health threat to the general public. NMED developed certain tools to inform the public about health concerns related to COVID-19 and the department evaluated these periodically to determine their relevance and efficacy as public health tools. The Rapid Response Watchlist was an important tool for the initial phases of the pandemic. However, the Rapid Response Watchlist no longer serves as a key tool to prevent the spread of this disease. NMED stopped publishing the Rapid Response Watchlist on August 16, 2022.

What is a rapid response?

Generally speaking, state agencies initiate a rapid response when one or more employees tests positive for COVID-19. The goal of a rapid response is to protect employees and customers while minimizing disruptions to the workplace and helping them reopen as soon as it is safe to do so.

What happens during a rapid response?

A response specialist will assist the employer in identifying mitigation strategies to protect workers and prevent an outbreak.

Are employers still required to report all positive employees to the New Mexico Environment Department?

Yes. Employers are required to report all COVID-19 positive employees to the Environment Department’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau within four hours of learning of the positive test result. To learn more about this requirement and how to report a COVID-19 positive employee, click here.

How does the New Mexico Environment Department assist employers and workers who are experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak?

The Occupational Health and Safety Bureau has staff who specialize in health hazards including infectious disease, and COVID-19 response specialists who can answer questions and provide guidance to employers and workers. Workers may also contact the Bureau to file a complaint if they believe their employer is not providing a safe workplace, particularly in cases of exposure to known positive individuals, such as in healthcare settings.

Has the Rapid Response Program ended?

No, the Environment Department’s Rapid Response Program continues to assist employers across New Mexico. The Environment Department will scale back and ultimately end the Rapid Response Program in 2022 in conjunction with the New Mexico Department of Health.

Where can I find additional guidance on preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace?

Visit the OHSB’s main webpage for resources for employers and employees on how to request assistance or file a complaint. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration and CDC also provide good resources on COVID-19 prevention.

How can I obtain historic data from the former Rapid Response Watchlist?

Download historic data from the Rapid Response Watchlist here . Because this data is no longer collected or consolidated as of August 16, 2022, data after that date is unavailable.


On August 12, 2022, the Department of Health issued an amended emergency public health order (PHO), which no longer requires employers to report outbreaks to NMED when four or more workers test positive within a 14-day period. However, the PHO did not change the requirement that employers must continue to report individual cases.

New Regulations and Announcements

To keep up to date with latest information from the New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Bureau click here

Contact us

OHSB Main Phone Number: 505-476-8700

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