New Mexico Suspects First Ivermectin Death

DOH reports 543 new COVID-19 cases and 15 more deaths

New Mexico may have seen its first case of a death caused by the prescription drug ivermectin, a drug not approved as a treatment for COVID-19, but nonetheless reportedly experiencing a surge of use.

The drug, in its human form, has approval from the Food and Drug Administration for people with intestinal strongyloidiasis and onchocerciasis (two conditions caused by parasitic worms), and some topical forms of ivermectin are approved to treat external parasites like head lice and skin conditions such as rosacea. The animal form, which is different, is also used for parasites and for heartworm disease.

None are appropriate for COVID-19, Acting Health Secretary Dr. David Scrase said during today’s weekly update on COVID-19 update. Nonetheless, he said he had heard, unofficially through what he described as a reliable source, that one person in New Mexico may have died from taking the drug for COVID-19 and another may be in critical care.

“It’s mainly a veterinary medicine for parasite infections,” Scrase said, noting there is, nonetheless, “a cult following for this drug.” The state’s Medical Advisory Team, he said, “has looked at it three times. We don’t think there’s evidence to be effective in treating COVID by any stretch of the imagination.” Scrase said more information about the person who may have died from taking ivermectin will become available once it has been fully investigated and a death certificate has been issued. The drug can be lethal, he said, and cause a variety of issues, and encouraged New Mexicans to call the poison control hotline if they or anyone they knew had taken ivermectin (1-800-222-1222).

Slide "Misinformation Moment: Ivermectin is not an approved treatment for COVID-19." NMDOH 9/8/21

Use of approved treatments for COVID-19, however, have been rising, albeit “not enough.” Those treatments include the anti-viral drug Remdesivir, provided to moderately ill people in hospital, and monoclonal antibody treatments, available to certain at-risk groups, available on an out-patient basis.

Slide "There has been a significant increase in inpatient and outpatient mAb treatments, but not enough!" NMDOH 9/8/21

Use of the latter, Scrase said, “reduces hospitalizations by 75% in high risk individuals” and may be contributing to hospitalizations currently being below projections from forecasting models by both Los Alamos National Laboratory and Presbyterian Hospital. “We’re happy to have the cases be lower than expected,” Scrase said, but noted “we are still up against it in terms of our resources.” Scrase said he expects hospitals, which currently are operating within crisis care standards but have not had to ration care at this point, to continue to surge for the next few weeks. “I’ll still be sitting on the edge of my seat close to the end of September,” he said. As of today, 394 people are hospitalized with COVID-19.

Slide "Hospitalizations now below current modeling projections." NMDOH 9/8/21

As has been the case nationwide, hospitalizations for children have been rising, but to a lesser degree here than elsewhere. Scrase shared new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing unvaccinated adolescents are hospitalized at 10 times the rate than those who are vaccinated.

Moreover, states with higher vaccination rates among those 12 and older, such as New Mexico, have lower hospitalization pediatric hospitalization rates. “We all need things we can feel good about in this pandemic,” Scrase said. “Every single person today who got a vaccination: You’ve protected yourself, your family and you’ve also protected children in New Mexico, as immunity in adults shown is being shown to protect immunity levels in kids.” Read the health department’s weekly report on pediatric COVID-19 cases here.

Slide, "Highest hospitalization rates in children in low vaccination rate states." NMDOH 9/8/21

That being said, cases among youth ages 5-17 have been rising, according to data shared by state Epidemiologist Dr. Christine Ross (read the state’s weekly report on COVID-19 by demographics here).

Slide "COVID-19 infection rates are high among children and adolescents aged 5-17 years." NMDOH 9/8/21

To that end, the health and education departments today announced a new COVID-19 testing and screening program, which DOH is funding by using a $63 million grant from the CDC Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity Funding program.

“Surveillance testing is a critical part of our protocols to keep schools safe and students and staff healthy,” Public Education Secretary-Designate Kurt Steinhaus said in a statement. “With this grant, schools will have the funding and hands-on support they need to complete this task without pulling money from academic programs.”

Slide, "A new COVID-19 testing and screening program is ready for New Mexico schools." NMDOH 9/8/21.

Testing remains front and center, health officials said today, with a recent CDC warning about shortages of supplies for COVID-19 tests. Those relying on rapid tests for surveillance testing should “plan ahead,” Scrase said. The state continues to provide online scheduling for tests, and provided a chart of turn-around times for those (below).

Slide "New Mexico testing turnaround time." NMDOH 9/8/21

The state’s test positivity rate is hovering just below the target of 7.5% (it’s at 7.3%), Ross said, and the spread rate is trending down and is currently at 1.0. Ross expressed cautious optimism about case rates, as shown in the chart below with a deceleration of growth in new cases. “It’s my job to worry, so I certainly don’t want to celebrate too early,” Ross said, “but I am happy to see this semblance of a plateau.”

Slide, "New Mexico COVID-19 Cases by Date of Specimen Collection September 7, 2021." NMDOH 9/8/21

Death rates, however, are expected to remain high following hospitalizations, with officials reporting 15 new deaths today, including the 158th for Santa Fe County.

Slide "As expected, we are now beginning to see an increase in COVID-19 deaths." NMDOH 9/8/21.

As has been the case, the vast majority of new cases and hospitalizations remains among those who are unvaccinated. “The take-home message is the driving force in the surge of cases that we’re seeing in New Mexico is among unfortunately unvaccinated individuals,” Ross said.

Currently, 78.3% of New Mexicans 18 years and older have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 68.4% are fully vaccinated. In the 12-17-year-old age group, 61.5% people have had at least one dose and 49.8% are fully inoculated. In Santa Fe County, among those 18 years and older, 89.7% have had at least one dose and 79.2% are fully vaccinated.

Deputy Health Secretary Dr. Laura Parajón said the state had a 58% increase in vaccine administrative during August when it held a $100 vaccine incentive program. People who participated have until 5 pm, Friday to sign up and receive the incentive.

Slide, "The deadline to sign up for August $100 vaccine incentive is this Friday!" NMDOH 9/8/21.

New Mexico health officials today reported 543 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total so far to 238,430. DOH has designated 206,242 of those cases as recovered. Lea County had 108 cases, followed by Bernalillo County with 88 and Doña Ana County with 74. Santa Fe County had 10 new cases.

The state also announced 15 additional deaths; there have now been 4,577 fatalities.

New cases

  • 88 new cases in Bernalillo County
  • 1 new case in Catron County
  • 42 new cases in Chaves County
  • 9 new cases in Cibola County
  • 1 new case in Colfax County
  • 18 new cases in Curry County
  • 74 new cases in Doña Ana County
  • 31 new cases in Eddy County
  • 5 new cases in Grant County
  • 108 new cases in Lea County
  • 16 new cases in Lincoln County
  • 1 new case in Los Alamos County
  • 1 new case in Luna County
  • 33 new cases in McKinley County
  • 1 new case in Mora County
  • 14 new cases in Otero County
  • 4 new cases in Quay County
  • 3 new cases in Rio Arriba County
  • 2 new cases in Roosevelt County
  • 14 new cases in Sandoval County
  • 30 new cases in San Juan County
  • 11 new cases in San Miguel County
  • 10 new cases in Santa Fe County
  • 1 new case in Sierra County
  • 4 new cases in Socorro County
  • 10 new cases in Taos County
  • 2 new cases in Torrance County
  • 9 new cases in Valencia County

New fatalities

  • A male in his 60s from Bernalillo County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A male in his 80s from Bernalillo County who had underlying conditions
  • A male in his 50s from Curry County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A female in her 60s from Doña Ana County
  • A male in his 90s from Doña Ana County who had underlying conditions
  • A male in his 60s from Eddy County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A female in her 60s from Lea County who was hospitalized
  • A female in her 90s from Lea County who had underlying conditions
  • A male in his 70s from Lincoln County who was hospitalized
  • A female in her 40s from Los Alamos County
  • A male in his 40s from McKinley County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A male in his 60s from San Juan County. The individual was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A male in his 90s from San Juan County. The individual had underlying conditions
  • A male in his 70s from San Miguel County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A male in his 60s from Santa Fe 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
  • Albuquerque Heights Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center
  • Avamere in Roswell
  • Avista Senior Living (Brookdale Senior Living) in Albuquerque
  • Aztec Healthcare in Aztec
  • BeeHive Homes Bosque Farms
  • BeeHive Homes San Pedro in Albuquerque
  • BeeHive Homes Clovis
  • BeeHive Homes Portales
  • BeeHive Homes Roswell
  • Bloomfield Nursing and Rehabilitation in Bloomfield
  • Brookdale Valencia in Albuquerque
  • Calibre Sagecrest Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Las Cruces
  • Canyon Transitional Rehabilitation Center in Albuquerque
  • Casa Arena Blanca Nursing Center in Alamogordo
  • Casa de Oro in Las Cruces
  • Casa del Norte in Albuquerque
  • Casa del Sol Center in Las Cruces
  • Casa Maria Health Care Center in Roswell
  • Clayton Nursing and Rehabilitation in Clayton
  • Clovis Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Clovis
  • Colfax Long-Term Care Center in Springer
  • Desert Springs Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Hobbs
  • Fort Bayard Medical Center in Santa Clara
  • Genesis McKinley Care Center in Gallup
  • Good Life Senior Living in Hobbs
  • Good Samaritan Society – Betty Dare in Alamogordo
  • Good Samaritan Society Las Cruces
  • Haven Care Aspen House in Albuquerque
  • Lakeview Christian Home in Carlsbad
  • Landmark at Desert Gardens in Hobbs
  • La Posada Assisted Living in Las Cruces
  • La Vida Llena Community in Albuquerque
  • Las Palomas Center in Albuquerque
  • Life Care Center in Farmington
  • Lovington Healthcare in Lovington
  • The Meadows Home at the New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute in Las Vegas
  • 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
  • Retirement Ranches in Clovis
  • 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
  • Sierra Health Care Center in Truth or Consequences
  • Silver Wings Assisted Living at Academy in Albuquerque
  • Skies Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Albuquerque
  • Spanish Trails Rehabilitation Suites in Albuquerque
  • St. Anthony Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Clovis
  • The Suites at Rio Vista in Rio Rancho
  • Vida Encantada Nursing & Rehabilitation in Las Vegas
  • 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: 67,547
  • Catron County: 133
  • Chaves County: 11,115
  • Cibola County: 3,127
  • Colfax County: 994
  • Curry County: 6,590
  • De Baca County: 212
  • Doña Ana County: 27,452
  • Eddy County: 9,508
  • Grant County: 1,937
  • Guadalupe County: 549
  • Harding County: 14
  • Hidalgo County: 519
  • Lea County: 11,880
  • Lincoln County: 2,381
  • Los Alamos County: 630
  • Luna County: 3,663
  • McKinley County: 13,390
  • Mora County: 230
  • Otero County: 5,029
  • Quay County: 782
  • Rio Arriba County: 4,274
  • Roosevelt County: 2,457
  • Sandoval County: 13,992
  • San Juan County: 17,433
  • San Miguel County: 2,076
  • Santa Fe County: 11,851
  • Sierra County: 894
  • Socorro County: 1,516
  • Taos County: 2,096
  • Torrance County: 1,113
  • Union County: 283
  • Valencia County: 7,977

Cases among people being held by federal agencies

  • Cibola County Correctional Center: 455
  • Otero County Federal Prison Facility: 481
  • Otero County Processing Center: 491
  • Torrance County Detention Facility: 349

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

  • Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Valencia County: 312
  • Guadalupe County Correctional Facility: 256
  • Lea County Correctional Facility: 762
  • Northeast New Mexico Correctional Facility in Union County: 169
  • 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: 151
  • 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.

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