On day 694 of the COVID-19 pandemic, a bit of good news: The Omicron surge is on a swift descent. “We’re coming down fairly rapidly,” Acting Health Secretary Dr. David Scrase said during today’s weekly COVID-19 briefing. “We welcome it.”
New Mexico health officials today reported 2,611 new COVID-19 cases, a 44% increase from yesterday, but a significant decrease from surge caseloads within the last few weeks that topped 6,000.
The new cases bring the statewide total so far to 484,454; DOH has designated 345,884 of those cases as recovered. The statewide test positivity rate also dropped from 26.8% to 25.4% (the target is 7.5%).
Bernalillo County had 597 cases, followed by Doña Ana County with 359 and San Juan County with 248. Santa Fe County had 184 new cases, 66 in the 87507 ZIP code, which ranked eighth in the state among ZIP codes with the most new cases.
All New Mexico counties remain “red” for high rates of transmission, according to the health department’s most recent county transmission report, which calculates daily case and test positivity rates over a two-week period ending Jan. 31. In the case of Santa Fe County, it had a case rate per 100,000 population of 169.5 (anything over 14.29 is considered high transmission) and a test positivity rate of 22.39%.
In addition to declining cases, the state’s hospitals, Scrase said, also are starting to experience some measure of relief, with declining numbers of COVID-19 patients and fewer patients on ventilators. Some of the rural hospitals, he said, don’t have any COVID-19 patients presently “and [it’s] been a really long time since we saw that.” As of today, 651 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, 11.5% more than yesterday.
The case curve—as depicted in the chart above—”will have to come way down,” Scrase said, for hospitals to have a “real relief,” but “at least we’re heading in the right direction.”
Of course, many unknowns remain. Throughout the pandemic, upending variants—Alpha, Delta and Omicron—have arrived in six-month intervals, with no break between Delta and Omicron. Scrase said he hopes to see some degree of reprieve—a “spring break”—and described himself as “very encouraged…we are officially on the downslope,” he said.
As the pandemic changes in nature, Scrase said he anticipates a “new model that occurs much more in our homes and our families than it does” at the health department, the state Capitol or the Human Services Department.
To that end, today’s news conference emphasized a push for home testing, with Scrase encouraging everyone to ensure they had two boxes of home rapid antigen COVID-19 tests on hand for the next six months, either by ordering through the federal website or obtaining them locally.
The health department has ordered 3 million rapid tests for distribution, and has distributed 1.4 million throughout the state and plans to distribute 400,000 more in the coming two weeks. The department expects the remaining 1.2 million tests to arrive in weekly shipments. The map below shows the distribution of those free tests, determinations that were made based on high case counts as well places with high levels of social vulnerability, based on a federal index.
Scrase also unveiled a redesigned website where New Mexicans can search for tests, by ZIP code, in their communities (findatestnm.org). The site also shows the distribution from the state to individual counties and providers.
As SFR reported on Jan. 19, City of Santa Fe and Santa Fe County emergency managers have been working on a plan to distribute tests within Santa Fe’s 87507 ZIP code, the only ZIP code designated as having a high SVI ranking, and—throughout the pandemic— frequently one of the top 10 ZIP codes in the state for new cases.
No distribution spots for free tests appear by searching on the health department’s new site. City of Santa Fe Communications Director Dave Herndon tells SFR via email that no tests have been received as of yet for distribution to the general public.
“The County has not received an allotment for distribution to the general public, therefore the City hasn’t either,” Herndon writes. “The City’s distribution plan is being developed in anticipation of receiving the allotment, but will not be announced until then.”
The first distribution to the county of 23,000 kits was specifically targeted to vulnerable people in 87507, he said, with two-thirds of the allotment going to the city to distribute. The city is distributing 15,030 kits to 87507 via the Southside Library, which “notified their clients of the availability by email”; The Food Depot; Senior Services; the Mobile Integrated Health Office; the Fire Department, which distributed to people who are homebound; and La Familia Medical Center, which is distributing to its clients and other private nonprofits that work with vulnerable populations. Per a health department director, Herndon notes, kits also were distributed to police and fire departments for use by first responders.
In addition to masking and testing, Scrase also reiterated the ongoing importance of vaccination and booster shots. Currently, 91.5% percent of adults 18 years and older have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 77.4% have completed their primary series. Among the same demographic, 42% have had a booster shot. In the 12-17-year-old age group, 70.3% of people have had at least one dose and 59.7% have completed their primary series. Among children ages 5-11, 35.9% have had at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine and 24.8% have completed their primary series. In Santa Fe County, 99% of people 18 and older have had at least one dose and 86.6% have completed their primary series.
According to the state’s most recent vaccination report released yesterday, over the four-week period between Jan. 3 and Jan. 31, 55.5% of COVID-19 cases were among those who have not completed their primary vaccination series, as were 77.4% of hospitalizations and 92.8% of deaths. In response to a question from SFR, Scrase said DOH plans to incorporate a third metric into that report that accounts for booster shots.
The state also reported 15 additional deaths, 14 of them recent, including two from Santa Fe County: a male in his 60s who had underlying conditions and a female in her 70s had been hospitalized and had underlying conditions. There have now been 232 deaths in Santa Fe County and 6,488 statewide.
While today’s update struck a rare and optimistic tone, Scrase concluded by noting that while the state is going in the right direction, it’s not there yet.
“Don’t take the mask off yet,” he said. “Don’t stop the rigor with testing until that case count gets much, much lower. But there really is good news. I think we’re about to open the door to a whole new way of dealing with the virus and managing it here as we all band together as New Mexicans to keep not just the average New Mexicans safe, but every New Mexican safe…particularly our most vulnerable people.”
- 597 new cases in Bernalillo County
- 1 new case in Catron County
- 69 new cases in Chaves County
- 41 new cases in Cibola County
- 9 new cases in Colfax County
- 52 new cases in Curry County
- 4 new cases in De Baca County
- 359 new cases in Doña Ana County
- 46 new cases in Eddy County
- 48 new cases in Grant County
- 19 new cases in Guadalupe County
- 13 new cases in Hidalgo County
- 90 new cases in Lea County
- 22 new cases in Lincoln County
- 19 new cases in Los Alamos County
- 19 new cases in Luna County
- 139 new cases in McKinley County
- 2 new cases in Mora County
- 50 new cases in Otero County
- 8 new cases in Quay County
- 96 new cases in Rio Arriba County
- 26 new cases in Roosevelt County
- 201 new cases in Sandoval County
- 248 new cases in San Juan County
- 46 new cases in San Miguel County
- 184 new cases in Santa Fe County
- 14 new cases in Sierra County
- 30 new cases in Socorro County
- 23 new cases in Taos County
- 6 new cases in Torrance County
- 120 new cases in Valencia County
- 8 new cases among New Mexico Corrections Department inmates at the Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Valencia County
- 2 new cases among New Mexico Corrections Department inmates at the Northwest New Mexico Correctional Center in Cibola County
- A male in his 50s from Bernalillo County. The individual had underlying conditions.
- A male in his 70s from Bernalillo County. The individual was hospitalized and had underlying conditions.
- A female in her 40s from Chaves County.
- A male in his 70s from Cibola County. The individual had underlying conditions.
- A female in her 70s from Curry County. The individual was hospitalized and had underlying conditions. The individual was a resident of the Retirement Ranches facility in Clovis.
- A female in her 40s from Eddy County. The individual had underlying conditions.
- A female in her 60s from McKinley County. The individual was hospitalized and had underlying conditions.
- A male in his 80s from Otero County. The individual had underlying conditions.
- A male in his 50s from Sandoval County. The individual was hospitalized.
- A male in his 90s from San Juan County.
- A male in his 60s from Santa Fe County. The individual had underlying conditions.
- A female in her 70s from Santa Fe County. The individual was hospitalized and had underlying conditions.
- A male in his 80s from Valencia County. The individual was hospitalized.
- A male in his 60s from Lincoln County. The individual had underlying conditions.
Newly reported fatalities from more than 30 days ago
- A female in her 50s from Quay County. The individual was hospitalized.
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
- Atria Vista Del Rio
- Avamere Rio Rancho
- Bear Canyon
- Beehive Homes Of Edgewood
- Beehive Homes, Alamogordo
- Bloomfield Nursing and Rehabilitation Center
- Blue Horizon Assisted Living
- Casa Del Sol
- Casa Maria Healthcare Center And Pecos Valley Rehab
- Clayton Nursing Home
- Clovis Healthcare
- Desert Gardens
- Desert Peaks Assisted Living And Memory Care
- Fort Bayard Medical Center
- Genesis Silver City Care Center
- Good Life Senior Living & Memory Care, Los Lentes
- Good Samaritan Betty Dare
- Good Samaritan Las Cruces
- Lakeview Christian Home
- Las Palomas
- Lifecare Farmington
- Mission Arch Center
- Neighborhood In Rio Rancho (The)
- New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute (Meadows)
- Odeila Healthcare
- Palmilla Senior
- Princeton Place
- Red Rocks Care Center
- Retreat Gardens
- Rio Rancho Center
- Rio Vista
- San Juan Center
- Sandia View Cotton Wood
- St Anthony’s
- Sunset Villa
- Sunshine Assisted Living
- The Rehabilitation Center Of Albuquerque
- The Rio At Las Estancias
- Uptown Rehab
- Watermark At Cherry Hills
- White Sands Healthcare
- Woodmark At Uptown
County totals are subject to change upon further investigation and determination of residency of individuals positive for COVID-19.
- Bernalillo County: 136,955
- Catron County: 384
- Chaves County: 20,635
- Cibola County: 6,359
- Colfax County: 2,271
- Curry County: 11,902
- De Baca County: 527
- Doña Ana County: 58,577
- Eddy County: 16,289
- Grant County: 6,022
- Guadalupe County: 1,008
- Harding County: 72
- Hidalgo County: 1,003
- Lea County: 18,696
- Lincoln County: 4,922
- Los Alamos County: 2,416
- Luna County: 6,257
- McKinley County: 24,145
- Mora County: 697
- Otero County: 12,407
- Quay County: 1,907
- Rio Arriba County: 9,282
- Roosevelt County: 4,680
- Sandoval County: 30,809
- San Juan County: 37,726
- San Miguel County: 5,283
- Santa Fe County: 26,130
- Sierra County: 1,891
- Socorro County: 3,581
- Taos County: 4,981
- Torrance County: 2,488
- Union County: 729
- Valencia County: 17,351
Cases among people being held by federal agencies
- Cibola County Correctional Center: 538
- Otero County Federal Prison Facility: 604
- Otero County Processing Center: 822
- Torrance County Detention Facility: 385
Cases among people being held by the New Mexico Department of Corrections
- Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Valencia County: 444
- Guadalupe County Correctional Facility: 259
- Lea County Correctional Facility: 865
- Northeast New Mexico Correctional Facility in Union County: 216
- Northwest New Mexico Correctional Center in Cibola County: 185
- Otero County Prison Facility: 573
- Penitentiary of New Mexico in Santa Fe County: 260
- Roswell Correctional Center: 267
- Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility in Doña Ana County: 294
- Springer Correctional Center in Colfax County: 271
- Western New Mexico Correctional Facility in Cibola County: 89
*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.