NM COVID-19 Transmission Remains High, but Cases, Hospitalizations Starting to Decline

Officials report spike in Poison Control reports on use of ivermectin

On Day 568 of the COVID-19 pandemic, Acting Health Secretary Dr. David Scrase noted in today’s weekly news update, “we’ve been at this a really long time.” We means everyone, of course, but Scrase made particular note of the strain the pandemic has put on health care workers.

“I don’t think we realize the level of sacrifice and the amount of risk these folks take every day to keep New Mexicans safe” Scrase said. “The volumes in the hospitals are the highest that any of these people have ever seen in their entire careers and they’ve lasted the longest.”

Currently, New Mexico hospitals continue to skirt close to crisis standards of care, although occupancy has come down a bit, dropping today to 287 people hospitalized with COVID-19.* “The light at the end of the tunnel, I hope is not an oncoming train,” he said.

Slide "NM Hospital Systems Capacity Self-Evaluation." NMDOH, 9/29/21

Scrase also shared a video created by Lovelace Health System showing COVID-19 through the eyes of an unvaccinated patient. According to the health department’s most recent report on vaccinations, 90.6% of hospitalizations for COVID-19 are among people who are not fully vaccinated, as are 94.8% of deaths. Among new cases, 85.2% are among those not fully vaccinated.

“The ICUs are full of unvaccinated people,” Scrase noted, choking up as he added: “It’s incredibly difficult for a health care worker to see this second surge of preventable illness. I know you’re working harder now, the emotional toil of creating preventable illness is higher than it was...I just can’t say enough about how much we in state government appreciate all you’ve done.”

Scrase also reiterated the importance for New Mexicans who test positive for COVID-19 to seek out monoclonal antibody treatments and to avoid unproven treatments such as ivermectin. The state’s Poison Control Center has had 20 calls about ivermectin exposures this year, 15 of them in August and September. Among those cases, eight took it to prevent COVID-19 and eight took it to treat it. “It’s horrifying as a physician to go over this spreadsheet,” Scrase said of the report. Two people who took ivermectin, he noted, died: a 38-year-old woman and 79-year-old man. In both cases, he said, the cause of death was COVID-19 and organ failure, but “a key feature was these individuals delayed seeking emergency care for symptoms of coronavirus because they thought the ivermectin would take care of it and that’s a serious serious problem.”

Slide, "20 Reported NM ivermectin to UNM Poison Control Center in 2021." NMDOH, 9/29/21

The slide below shows the geographic locations and ages of those 2021 ivermectin exposures in the state; Santa Fe County does not appear to have had any.

Slide, "Geographic locations and ages of 2021 ivermectin exposures in NM." NMDOH. 9/29/21.

That being said, New Mexico did have some good news this week, including a map Scrase showcased from the Washington Post that shows the state ranks high for both high rates of vaccination and relatively low rates of hospitalization.

Slide, "Nationally, NM leading in hospitalization and vaccination rates." NMDOH 9/29/21.

Currently, 79.9% of New Mexicans 18 years and older have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 70.5% are fully vaccinated. In the 12-17-year-old age group, 63.8% people have had at least one dose and 54.3% are fully inoculated. In Santa Fe County, among those 18 years and older, 90.9% have had at least one dose and 80.9% are fully vaccinated.

In addition, cases in both New Mexico and nationwide appear to be declining. “I am happy to report that, but I think it’s also important to acknowledge that we may be far from done with this surge given that we’re headed into the winter season,” state Epidemiologist Dr. Christine Ross said.

Ross also noted that the state this week adopted the new national definition for new cases, which now includes people who test positive for COVID-19 more than 90 days after a prior infection. Ross said while the rate of reinfection is unclear, state surveillance and data from elsewhere indicates both it and breakthrough cases among those who are fully vaccinated “appear to be relatively infrequent,” but the state is monitoring both.

While the state’s emphasis remains on vaccinating the unvaccinated, DOH began making Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine boosters available to the two groups recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and will roll out boosters to additional eligible groups starting Oct. 11, Deputy Health Secretary Dr. Laura Parajón said. Only people who received the Pfizer vaccine are currently eligible for a booster.

Slide, "NMDOH prioritization of vaccine doses." NMDOH, 9/29/10

DOH also anticipates additional booster availability for those who received either the Moderna or J&J vaccine, as well as a potential Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5-11. Pfizer recently submitted data on that age group to the Food and Drug Administration and says it will be applying for an emergency use authorization in the coming weeks. Cases among children have risen during the recent Delta-driven surge. In New Mexico, 16.1% of cases have been among children overall, but that has risen to 25.2% in the last week, according to the most recent report on pediatric cases.

Slide, "COVID-19 vaccines may be approved for more populations soon." NMDOH, 9/29/21

New Mexico health officials today reported 632 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total so far to 252,017. DOH has designated 222,391 of those cases as recovered.

Bernalillo County had 167 new cases, followed by Lea County with 62 and San Juan County with 58. Santa Fe County had 20 new cases. Santa Fe County also lost its brief respite from slightly lower transmission (last week, it was considered orange in the below math rather than red). Santa Fe County’s most recent test positivity rate remains below the 7.5% target at 3.69%, but above the daily case rate target of 14 per 100,000 at 14.9. Statewide, the test positivity rate is 6.6%. But, Ross noted, “when you drill that down to the county level, there is quite a variability by county and many counties that are still much higher than that number.”

The state also announced 12 additional deaths, 10 of them recent; there have now been 4,788 fatalities. Scrase said death counts will continue to be high for the next several weeks: “We can start to expect to see a decline in the number of deaths two to four weeks after the decline in hospitalizations and six weeks after the decline in cases. Sadly, we’re still losing folks from COVID-19.”

New cases

  • 167 new cases in Bernalillo County
  • 38 new cases in Chaves County
  • 15 new cases in Cibola County
  • 2 new cases in Colfax County
  • 10 new cases in Curry County
  • 28 new cases in Doña Ana County
  • 41 new cases in Eddy County
  • 15 new cases in Grant County
  • 1 new case in Harding County
  • 1 new case in Hidalgo County
  • 62 new cases in Lea County
  • 15 new cases in Lincoln County
  • 4 new cases in Los Alamos County
  • 4 new cases in Luna County
  • 6 new cases in McKinley County
  • 4 new cases in Mora County
  • 25 new cases in Otero County
  • 7 new cases in Quay County
  • 9 new cases in Rio Arriba County
  • 7 new cases in Roosevelt County
  • 39 new cases in Sandoval County
  • 58 new cases in San Juan County
  • 21 new cases in San Miguel County
  • 20 new cases in Santa Fe County
  • 3 new cases in Sierra County
  • 5 new cases in Socorro County
  • 3 new cases in Taos County
  • 5 new cases in Torrance County
  • 17 new cases in Valencia County

New fatalities

  • A male in his 60s from Curry County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A female in her 40s from Doña Ana County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A male in his 80s from Doña Ana County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A female in her 60s from Eddy County who was hospitalized
  • A female in her 80s from Eddy County who had underlying conditions
  • A male in his 40s from Lea County who was hospitalized
  • A male in his 70s from Otero County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A female in her 30s from Sandoval County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A male in his 60s from Sandoval County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A male in his 40s from Taos County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions

Newly reported fatalities more than 30 days old

  • A male in his 80s from Bernalillo County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A male in his 80s from Sierra County who was hospitalized

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
  • All Care Assisted Living in Clovis
  • Artesia Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Artesia
  • Autumn Blessings Assisted Living in Logan
  • Avamere at Fiesta Park in Albuquerque
  • Avamere in Roswell
  • Avista Senior Living (Brookdale Senior Living) in Albuquerque
  • Aztec Healthcare in Aztec
  • BeeHive Homes Farmington
  • BeeHive Homes Santa Fe
  • Bloomfield Nursing and Rehabilitation in Bloomfield
  • Brookdale Valencia in Albuquerque
  • Casa Arena Blanca Nursing Center in Alamogordo
  • Casa de Oro in Las Cruces
  • Casa del Sol Center in Las Cruces
  • Casa Maria Health Care Center in Roswell
  • Casa Real in Santa Fe
  • Cedar Ridge Inn in Farmington
  • Clayton Nursing and Rehabilitation in Clayton
  • Clovis Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Clovis
  • Colfax Long-Term Care Center in Springer
  • Desert Peaks Assisting Living and Memory Care in Las Cruces
  • Desert Springs Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Hobbs
  • Fort Bayard Medical Center in Santa Clara
  • Genesis Healthcare Uptown in Albuquerque
  • Genesis McKinley Care Center in Gallup
  • Genesis San Juan Center in Farmington
  • Good Life Senior Living in Lovington
  • Good Samaritan Society – Betty Dare in Alamogordo
  • Good Samaritan Society – Manzano del Sol Village in Albuquerque
  • Lakeview Christian Home in Carlsbad
  • Landmark at Desert Gardens in Hobbs
  • La Vida Llena Assisted Living 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 Assisted Living and Memory Care of Albuquerque
  • 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
  • Ravenna Assisted Living in Albuquerque
  • The Rehabilitation Center of Albuquerque
  • Retirement Ranches in Clovis
  • The Retreat Healthcare in Rio Rancho
  • The Rio at Las Estancias in Albuquerque
  • Sandia Senior Suites in Albuquerque
  • Santa Fe Care Center in Santa Fe
  • Sierra Health Care Center in Truth or Consequences
  • Sierra Hills Assisted Living in Truth or Consequences
  • Silver Wings Assisted Living in Albuquerque
  • Skies Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Albuquerque
  • South Valley Care Center in Albuquerque
  • Spanish Trails Rehabilitation Suites in Albuquerque
  • The Suites at Rio Vista in Rio Rancho
  • Sunny Day Assisted Living in Gallup
  • Sunshine Assisted Living in Tucumcari
  • Vida Encantada Nursing & Rehabilitation in Las Vegas
  • Village at Northrise in Las Cruces
  • Wheatfields Senior Living Community in Clovis
  • 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: 71,025
  • Catron County: 144
  • Chaves County: 11,886
  • Cibola County: 3,325
  • Colfax County: 1,140
  • Curry County: 7,072
  • De Baca County: 220
  • Doña Ana County: 28,564
  • Eddy County: 10,272
  • Grant County: 2,075
  • Guadalupe County: 581
  • Harding County: 16
  • Hidalgo County: 540
  • Lea County: 12,966
  • Lincoln County: 2,637
  • Los Alamos County: 660
  • Luna County: 3,773
  • McKinley County: 13,786
  • Mora County: 288
  • Otero County: 5,534
  • Quay County: 923
  • Rio Arriba County: 4,488
  • Roosevelt County: 2,572
  • Sandoval County: 14,824
  • San Juan County: 18,352
  • San Miguel County: 2,354
  • Santa Fe County: 12,318
  • Sierra County: 947
  • Socorro County: 1,594
  • Taos County: 2,214
  • Torrance County: 1,255
  • Union County: 325
  • Valencia County: 8,488

Cases among people being held by federal agencies

  • Cibola County Correctional Center: 455
  • Otero County Federal Prison Facility: 505
  • Otero County Processing Center: 525
  • 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: 317
  • Guadalupe County Correctional Facility: 256
  • Lea County Correctional Facility: 762
  • Northeast New Mexico Correctional Facility in Union County: 172
  • Northwest New Mexico Correctional Center in Cibola County: 130
  • Otero County Prison Facility: 473
  • Penitentiary of New Mexico in Santa Fe County: 224
  • Roswell Correctional Center: 229
  • Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility in Doña Ana County: 235
  • 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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