"It's a pretty sober day," University of New Mexico Hospital CEO Kate Becker said during a morning news conference. "This pandemic has affected the whole world…it's not just healthcare, but for those of us in healthcare, this was a disaster. It wasn't an explosion, it wasn't an earthquake, it wan't a tsunami, but it was a disaster. And I think of the folks on our team as the folks on the front line of that disaster. We've been lucky to walk through this together and we're all grateful that we had the opportunity to serve."
Presbyterian Health Services Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jason Mitchell noted that beyond healthcare workers, all essential workers should be acknowledged. "When we asked everyone to stay at home, we asked them to go to work," Mitchell said."I also reflect on the isolation that people have experienced. I think about senior populations. I think [it's important] that we as a community honor those individuals, that we support them and be there for them because it's not been an easy time for any of our vulnerable populations."
The pandemic, all agreed, displayed New Mexico's widespread vulnerabilities—from poverty to poor health to a lack of hospital beds. Many of the maneuvers COVID-19 engendered, such as collaboration among institutions, increased data tracking and an emphasis on telehealth services, will continue to serve the state, they said.
Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase said one of the pandemic's darkest days for him was when the state's epidemiologists showed that people living in the state's poverty census tracts were the most likely to contract, become sick from and die from COVID-19. "That was devastating," Scrase said, but noted that HSD throughout the pandemic added 100,000 people to Medicaid and amplified its reach through telemedicine and other initiatives. "I actually think we're doing a better job," he said, "serving more New Mexicans now than in our comfort of doing things the usual way pre-pandemic."
COVID-19, Children, Youth & Families Secretary Brian Blalock said, "was the great exacerbator, and made existing health inequities so much worse. And the places that have been impacted by institutional racism and generational poverty were so impacted. Our mission was to go in and help to address that suffering as best as we could."
Those efforts included delivery of more than 2 million pounds of food by the end of February across the state and to tribal areas.
Health Secretary Dr. Tracie Collins, who took her position mid-December, underscored that the pandemic had shone a spotlight on the economic and social conditions impacting New Mexicans' health, and said the department would be "really addressing those social determinants of health and really making an impact" moving forward. "We have so much work to do."
Collins also talked about the challenge the pandemic created in delaying funerals for those who lost people during the pandemic. "This idea that you're going to have a funeral delayed [and] that you couldn't even say goodbye to your loved ones properly," she noted. Collins lost her cousin, Rev. Ronnie Hampton, in March. "He was full of life and, at 64, he's no longer with us," Collins said, "and so it was really devastating to say goodbye to him and that's when it became even more traumatic to me."
All acknowledged that many people have experienced severe trauma from the pandemic and may require more outreach and support in the days to come.
"We all have experienced toxic stress," Cabinet Secretary for Early Childhood Education Elizabeth Groginsky said. "But we know there are strategies and it's getting those strategies out to families. Making sure our families know they're not alone."
While the pandemic has not ended, Scrase shared data from Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists who have been helping model its trajectory showing the degree to which New Mexico's COVID-safe practices and public health laws had curtailed cases by 90% and deaths by 80%.
"We had every single thing working against us," Scrase said. "This is the perfect example of New Mexico with our meager resources and our massive land mass…coming together against all the odds."
New Mexico health officials today reported 236 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total so far to 187,720. The health department has designated 161,650 of those as recovered.
Bernalillo County had 77 cases, followed by Doña Ana County with 36 and San Juan County with 18. Santa Fe County had 15 new cases.
The state also announced six additional deaths; there have now been 3,845 fatalities.
As of today, 130 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, 31 on ventilators.*
The health department also announced today that it is now prioritizing people 60 years old and older who have severe chronic conditions. The state's current 1B phase includes people 75 years and older, as well as those 16 and older with qualifying chronic health conditions. Last week, the state announced it would be prioritizing teachers as well, pledging that all K-12 educators would have their first shots before the end of the month.
Doing so placed educators in front of the qualifying group of people with chronic conditions, into which more than a quarter of New Mexico's population falls, according to the health department. Now, those 60 and plus with qualifying severe conditions, of which there are a dozen, will be prioritized. Those conditions listed on the vaccine registration form include: cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD and Type 2 diabetes, to name a few.
As of today, the state's vaccine dashboard reports 706,940 vaccines administered, with 26.3% of New Mexicans have received their first shots and 15.1% having received both.
- 77 new cases in Bernalillo County
- 3 new cases in Chaves County
- 4 new cases in Cibola County
- 5 new cases in Curry County
- 36 new cases in Doña Ana County
- 7 new cases in Eddy County
- 11 new cases in Grant County
- 1 new case in Lea County
- 3 new cases in Lincoln County
- 1 new case in Los Alamos County
- 4 new cases in Luna County
- 6 new cases in McKinley County
- 1 new case in Mora County
- 9 new cases in Otero County
- 1 new case in Quay County
- 6 new cases in Rio Arriba County
- 5 new cases in Sandoval County
- 18 new cases in San Juan County
- 2 new cases in San Miguel County
- 15 new cases in Santa Fe County
- 2 new cases in Taos County
- 2 new cases in Valencia County
- 2 new cases among New Mexico Corrections Department inmates at the Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Valencia County
- 15 new cases among New Mexico Corrections Department inmates at the Lea County Correctional Facility
- A male in his 60s from Bernalillo County.
- A male in his 70s from Bernalillo County who had underlying conditions
- A female in her 50s from Chaves County who had underlying conditions
- A female in her 70s from Luna County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
- A female in her 40s from Sandoval County who had underlying conditions
- A male in his 60s from San Juan County who had underlying conditions
The Department of Health has identified at least one positive COVID-19 case in residents and/or staff in the past 28 days at the following facilities:
- Albuquerque Heights Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center
- The Aristocrat Assisted Living Center in Alamogordo
- BeeHive Homes Edgewood
- BeeHive Homes Farmington
- BeeHive Homes Taylor Ranch in Albuquerque
- Calibre Sagecrest Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Las Cruces
- Clovis Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Clovis
- Good Life Senior Living in Carlsbad
- Good Samaritan Society – Betty Dare in Alamogordo
- Ladera Center in Albuquerque
- Laguna Rainbow Care Center in Casa Blanca
- Lakeview Christian Home in Carlsbad
- La Posada Assisted Living in Las Cruces
- Mission Arch Center in Roswell
- MorningStar Assisted Living and Memory Care of Albuquerque
- The Neighborhood in Rio Rancho Assisted Living in Rio Rancho
- Odelia Healthcare (Camino Healthcare) in Albuquerque
- Princeton Place in Albuquerque
- The Rio at Las Estancias in Albuquerque
- Sandia Senior Suites Assisted Living in Albuquerque
- Santa Fe Care Center in Santa Fe
- Senior Living Systems in Los Lunas
- Skies Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Albuquerque
- Sombrillo Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Los Alamos
- Vida Encantada Nursing & Rehabilitation in Las Vegas
- Welbrook Senior Living in Las Cruces
- The Woodmark at Uptown in Albuquerque
According to a health department news release, previously reported numbers included three cases that have been identified as duplicates (one in Luna County, one in Sandoval County and one in Valencia County)—these have now been corrected. County totals are subject to change upon further investigation and determination of residency of individuals positive for COVID-19.
- Bernalillo County: 53,397
- Catron County: 83
- Chaves County: 8,675
- Cibola County: 2,777
- Colfax County: 710
- Curry County: 4,967
- De Baca County: 132
- Doña Ana County: 23,167
- Eddy County: 6,550
- Grant County: 1,543
- Guadalupe County: 365
- Harding County: 8
- Hidalgo County: 350
- Lea County: 8,107
- Lincoln County: 1,564
- Los Alamos County: 487
- Luna County: 3,134
- McKinley County: 12,089
- Mora County: 165
- Otero County: 3,448
- Quay County: 425
- Rio Arriba County: 3,439
- Roosevelt County: 1,845
- Sandoval County: 11,010
- San Juan County: 13,604
- San Miguel County: 1,257
- Santa Fe County: 9,698
- Sierra County: 704
- Socorro County: 1,228
- Taos County: 1,569
- Torrance County: 658
- Union County: 244
- Valencia County: 6,243
Cases among people being held by federal agencies
- Cibola County Correctional Center: 445
- Otero County Federal Prison Facility: 443
- Otero County Processing Center: 197
- Torrance County Detention Facility: 47
Cases among people being held by the New Mexico Department of Corrections
- Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Valencia County: 290
- Guadalupe County Correctional Facility: 251
- Lea County Correctional Facility: 751
- Northeast New Mexico Correctional Facility in Union County: 167
- Northwest New Mexico Correctional Center in Cibola County: 126
- Otero County Prison Facility: 472
- Penitentiary of New Mexico in Santa Fe County: 215
- Roswell Correctional Center: 229
- Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility in Doña Ana County: 220
- Springer Correctional Center in Colfax County: 151
- Western New Mexico Correctional Facility in Cibola County: 74
*Per the health department, hospitalization figures include people who were tested elsewhere but are hospitalized in New Mexico, but don't include people who were tested here but are hospitalized out of state.