News

COVID-19 Cases Rising Among NM Children

DOH reports 875 new cases and 11 more deaths

COVID-19 cases among children between the ages of 5 and 17 are rising in New Mexico, state Epidemiologist Dr. Christine Ross said during a weekly update with Acting Health Secretary Dr. David Scrase and Deputy Secretary Dr. Laura Parajón.

Cases among school-age children are increasing and are making up a growing percentage of our total cases. NMDOH 9/2/2021

According to a weekly report on demographic trends, and the chart above, case rates have increased among all age groups, with notable upticks among 18-34-year-olds and 5-17-year-olds. The latter group, Ross noted, “...includes many children who are not eligible for vaccination right now, so it’s really important that everyone around them, everyone that’s eligible for vaccination, seeks out a vaccination.”

Those school-age children, Ross said (indicated by the yellow line in the top right graph) “are becoming a growing percentage of our total cases, although older age groups still make up the predominance of our cases.” Moreover, “given the very high levels of community transmission of this virus, it’s really difficult to discern where or to pin down one specific exposure,” meaning it’s unclear if kids are contracting COVID-19 at school or elsewhere.

“Children have multiple possible exposure events that can happen in the community but could also have happened in school,” Ross said, noting that DOH is coordinating with the state Public Education Department “on collecting better data to help us discern school associated cases versus kids who are getting infected outside of the school environment.”

Either way, Ross emphasized the importance of mitigation at schools—masks, hand-washing, social-distancing—as well as the need to increase COVID-19 testing among children, where all the age groups have test positivity rates indicating that not enough testing is being done to adequately assess cases.

High test percent positivity, need to increase testing in school-age children. NMDOH 9/1/2021

“The take-home message for me is I really hope we can see more testing of this age group,” Ross said, “because there’s clearly more infections that we are not detecting at this time. Testing is an extremely important tool because it quickly leads to isolation of infected people and quarantine of contacts.”

Children and testing were a main focus today, with Parajón reviewing several common concerns among parents regarding COVID-19 vaccination for children. For instance, she said, the vaccines do not impact fertility nor do they alter DNA.

COVID-19 vaccines are safe for children. NMDOH 9/1/2021

Scrase noted that while the state is seeing rising cases among children, it is not seeing a rise in hospitalizations among children. However, hospitals remain tight, he said, and right on the verge of having to invoke crisis standards of care that lead to rationing of services. DOH today reported 381 people hospitalized with COVID-19, 25 fewer than yesterday.

NM Hospital Systems Capacity Self-Evaluation. NMDOH 9/3/2021.

Ross said there may be an indication that case counts could be leveling off, but it remains too soon to tell. New Mexico health officials today reported 875 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total so far to 233,487. DOH has designated 202,760 of those cases as recovered.

Bernalillo County had 222 new cases, followed by Lea County with 87 and both Doña Ana and Eddy counties with 69. Santa Fe County had 19 new cases.

The vast majority of new cases, Ross said, remain among unvaccinated people. The state’s weekly vaccination report shows that between Aug. 2-30, 82.3% of cases, 89.6% of hospitalizations and 93.3% deaths were among those who have not been vaccinated. “Infections among unvaccinated individuals are driving the current surge,” Ross said.

Cases, hospitalizations, and deaths by vaccination status over prior 4-week period. NMDOH 9/1/2021

As for those worried about break-through cases, “there’s a ton of stuff you can do,” Scrase said, “wear your mask, keep your distance, avoid indoor settings that are high risk where other people have their masks off. My motto is when people start taking their masks off, I just take off. I just leave because it’s not safe. We can all protect ourselves.”

Even if case counts start to drop, Scrase noted, hospitalizations follow case counts by a few weeks, and a percentage of hospitalizations—about 19%—lead to fatalities, which are expected to rise. Today, for instance, DOH reported 11 more deaths, all recent, ranging in ages from their 20s to 70s. There have now been 4,529 total fatalities.

“We are still going to have a couple of really rough weeks even if things turn around with cases,” Scrase noted.

As expected, we are now beginning to see an increase in COVID-19 deaths. NMDOH 9/1/30

Vaccination rates remain a major focus, with officials showing a map that tracks both rates across counties, as well as the number of unvaccinated people in each county. Currently, 77.6% of New Mexicans 18 years and older have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 67.7% are fully vaccinated. In the 12-17-year-old age group, 59.8% people have had at least one dose and 47.4% are fully inoculated. In Santa Fe County, among those 18 years and older, 88.9% have had at least one dose and 78.6% are fully vaccinated.

Percent of fully vaccinated indivuals (18+) by NM county. Total unvaccinated persons as August 27, 2021. NMDOH 9/2/21.

Vaccination rates remain significantly higher in the northwest region of the state compared with the southeast.

Comparison of two New Mexico regions: NW and SE. NMDOH 9/1/2021.

Although health officials clocked today’s update as the 540th day of the pandemic, the current surge provoked a reiteration of early-day warnings to wear masks, wash hands, socially distance and seek testing.

Scheduling a COVID-19 test from your computer or phone is easy! NMDOH 9/1/2021.

“This current surge we’re seeing isn’t actually a necessary surge,” Scrase said. “It’s raging amongst unvaccinated people. We understand this is America and that everybody has a choice, but there’s other folks as well, there’s hospital folks that are struggling. Please reconsider your vaccination decision. Please talk to a trusted health care provider. Please think about getting vaccinated and get vaccinated.”

New cases

  • 222 new cases in Bernalillo County
  • 43 new cases in Chaves County
  • 3 new cases in Cibola County
  • 15 new cases in Colfax County
  • 33 new cases in Curry County
  • 69 new cases in Doña Ana County
  • 69 new cases in Eddy County
  • 5 new cases in Grant County
  • 3 new cases in Guadalupe County
  • 2 new cases in Hidalgo County
  • 87 new cases in Lea County
  • 29 new cases in Lincoln County
  • 12 new cases in Luna County
  • 26 new cases in McKinley County
  • 22 new cases in Otero County
  • 6 new cases in Quay County
  • 3 new cases in Rio Arriba County
  • 11 new cases in Roosevelt County
  • 39 new cases in Sandoval County
  • 63 new cases in San Juan County
  • 33 new cases in San Miguel County
  • 19 new cases in Santa Fe County
  • 10 new cases in Socorro County
  • 8 new cases in Taos County
  • 5 new cases in Torrance County
  • 19 new cases in Valencia County
  • 18 new cases among individuals held by federal agencies at the Otero County Federal Prison Facility
  • 1 new case among New Mexico Corrections Department inmates at the Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility in Doña Ana County

New fatalities

  • A female in her 20s from Bernalillo County who was hospitalized
  • A male in his 40s from Bernalillo County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A male in his 60s from Bernalillo County who was hospitalized
  • A female in her 50s from Chaves County who was hospitalized
  • A female in her 50s from Eddy County who had underlying conditions
  • A female in her 60s from Eddy County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A male in his 60s from Lea County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A female in her 30s from McKinley County who was hospitalized
  • A male in his 70s from Otero County who had underlying conditions
  • A male in his 50s from Valencia County who had underlying conditions
  • A female in her 60s from Valencia County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions

Congregate facilities

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:

  • Advanced Health Care in Albuquerque
  • Avamere in Roswell
  • Aztec Healthcare in Aztec
  • BeeHive Homes Bosque Farms
  • BeeHive Homes San Pedro in Albuquerque
  • Bloomfield Nursing and Rehabilitation in Bloomfield
  • Calibre Sagecrest Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Las Cruces
  • Canyon Transitional Rehabilitation Center in Albuquerque
  • Casa de Oro in Las Cruces
  • Casa del Norte in Albuquerque
  • Casa Maria Health Care Center in Roswell
  • Clovis Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Clovis
  • Colfax Long-Term Care Center in Springer
  • Desert Springs Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Hobbs
  • Fairwinds Assisted Living in Rio Rancho
  • Fort Bayard Medical Center in Santa Clara
  • Good Life Senior Living and Memory Care in Los Lunas
  • Good Life Senior Living in Hobbs
  • Good Life Senior Living in Ruidoso
  • Good Samaritan Society Las Cruces
  • Haven Care Aspen House in Albuquerque
  • Laguna Rainbow Care Center in Casa Blanca
  • Lakeview Christian Home in Carlsbad
  • Landmark at Desert Gardens in Hobbs
  • La Posada Assisted Living in Las Cruces
  • Las Palomas Center in Albuquerque
  • La Vida Llena Community in Albuquerque
  • Life Care Center in Farmington
  • Lovington Healthcare in Lovington
  • The Meadows Home at the New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute in Las Vegas
  • Miners Colfax Medical Center in Raton
  • Mission Arch Center in Roswell
  • MorningStar Memory Care at North Ridge in Albuquerque
  • The Neighborhood Assisted Living in Rio Rancho
  • The Neighborhood Health Care in Rio Rancho
  • Odelia Healthcare (Camino Healthcare) in Albuquerque
  • Princeton Place in Albuquerque
  • The Rehabilitation Center of Albuquerque
  • The Rio at Las Estancias in Albuquerque
  • Roberta’s Family Care Home Assisted Living in Anton Chico
  • Sandia Senior Suites in Albuquerque
  • Santa Fe Care Center in Santa Fe
  • Silver Wings Assisted Living in Albuquerque
  • Skies Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Albuquerque
  • The Suites at Rio Vista in Rio Rancho
  • Vida Encantada Nursing & Rehabilitation in Las Vegas
  • The Watermark at Cherry Hills in Albuquerque
  • White Sands Healthcare in Hobbs
  • The Woodmark at Uptown in Albuquerque

Statewide cases

County totals are subject to change upon further investigation and determination of residency of individuals positive for COVID-19.

  • Bernalillo County: 66,361
  • Catron County: 124
  • Chaves County: 10,693
  • Cibola County: 3,081
  • Colfax County: 955
  • Curry County: 6,371
  • De Baca County: 211
  • Doña Ana County: 27,033
  • Eddy County: 9,217
  • Grant County: 1,899
  • Guadalupe County: 542
  • Harding County: 14
  • Hidalgo County: 513
  • Lea County: 11,419
  • Lincoln County: 2,262
  • Los Alamos County: 617
  • Luna County: 3,619
  • McKinley County: 13,214
  • Mora County: 217
  • Otero County: 4,884
  • Quay County: 750
  • Rio Arriba County: 4,206
  • Roosevelt County: 2,398
  • Sandoval County: 13,729
  • San Juan County: 17,179
  • San Miguel County: 1,941
  • Santa Fe County: 11,690
  • Sierra County: 862
  • Socorro County: 1,475
  • Taos County: 2,021
  • Torrance County: 1,073
  • Union County: 276
  • Valencia County: 7,866

Cases among people being held by federal agencies

  • Cibola County Correctional Center: 455
  • Otero County Federal Prison Facility: 480
  • Otero County Processing Center: 486
  • Torrance County Detention Facility: 347

Cases among people being held by the New Mexico Department of Corrections

  • Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Valencia County: 311
  • Guadalupe County Correctional Facility: 256
  • Lea County Correctional Facility: 762
  • Northeast New Mexico Correctional Facility in Union County: 168
  • Northwest New Mexico Correctional Center in Cibola County: 130
  • Otero County Prison Facility: 473
  • Penitentiary of New Mexico in Santa Fe County: 219
  • Roswell Correctional Center: 229
  • Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility in Doña Ana County: 233
  • Springer Correctional Center in Colfax County: 150
  • Western New Mexico Correctional Facility in Cibola County: 76

*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.

Letters to the Editor

Mail letters to PO Box 4910 Santa Fe, NM 87502 or email them to editor[at]sfreporter.com. Letters (no more than 200 words) should refer to specific articles in the Reporter. Letters will be edited for space and clarity.

We also welcome you to follow SFR on social media (on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) and comment there. You can also email specific staff members from our contact page.