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NMDOH holds COVID-19 update for the first time in months

Image 6-9-22 at 11.50 AM.jpg
Gino Gutierrez/KSFR News
NMDOH Facebook page
NMDOH COVID-19 update

For the first time in several months, the New Mexico Department of Health held a COVID-19 press conference to address what officials called “another wave of infections”. A chart presented showed that positive cases in the state have gone up over the last six week period. DOH State Epidemiologist Dr. Chirstine Ross said the rise in cases is a new phase of COVID in New Mexico.

“This provides a tremendous amount of situational awareness, which you can see that is showing us clearly indicative of another wave of infections.”

A disclaimer was also put out that the number of positive tests may not account for every test taken in the state, with those testing at home not reporting positive tests to the state. Hospitalizations are also slightly up as well, with 3.5% of those in hospitals on ventilators. But even with this minor uptick in hospital occupancy, Ross said the numbers are not comparable to the past and less patients in the hospital are needing ventilated assistance.

The next slide shown was both a map of the United State and New Mexico, color coded according to the CDC’s COVID-19 Community Levels in the US by county. These levels are determined by looking at the hospital beds being used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area. Ross said the CDC is also basing framework on “medically significant” disease.

As of the week of 5/27/22-6/02/22, there were 24 counties with low community levels, 9 with medium, and 0 with high. Despite the rise in both positive cases and hospitalizations, Ross said ICU admissions and deaths remain “comparatively low”. She attributed this to individuals now having a “wall of protection” that helps against COVID.

“In other words, I kinda think about it as a wall of protection created by vacations, but also from natural infections, even re-infections. Most of us are protected by vaccinations or by national infections.”

Acting DOH Secretary Dr. David Scrase was asked if the rising case numbers in the state would lead to a reimplementation of a mask mandate.

“We’re not having discussions about additional mandates, I think that in general, that’s just not something that’s on the table, we seem to be doing really well.”

But even with no mandate currently on the table, Scrase said masks are still the most effective way to help stop the spread of COVID.

“Masks are just as effective as they were in the past, these new strains of COVID are much, much more infectious. But they will still lower your risk if you wear tight fitting masks.”

In closing, Scrase says tools like data, vaccines, masks, testing, treatments, and guidance are essential to helping prevent serious illness. But the spread of COVID is still an issue, with Scrase even admitting that the actual case counts being reported could be between three and 10 times higher.

Gino Gutierrez was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. A lifelong resident of New Mexico, Gino found interest in broadcasting after falling in love with sports and sports broadcasting. He attended the University of New Mexico, where he majored in mass media journalism. While at UNM, he worked the New Mexico Daily Lobo, serving as both sports and managing editor. He can also be heard providing play-by-play commentary for the Lobo Hockey Network.