New Mexico Marks One Year with COVID-19 Vaccines – Santa Fe Reporter

One year ago this week, health care workers at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center became the first in the state to receive the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19. New Mexico health officials today acknowledged the one-year anniversary for vaccines.

Since then, 87.3% of New Mexicans 18 years and older have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 75.1% are fully vaccinated. Among that age group, 29.2% have had a booster shot. In the 12-17-year-old age group, 65.5% of people have had at least one dose and 56.3% are fully inoculated. Among children ages 5-11, 22.5% have had at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine and 10.5% are fully vaccinated. In Santa Fe County, 99% of people 18 and older have had at least one dose and 85% are fully vaccinated.

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“It’s a bittersweet moment,” Deputy Health Secretary Dr. Laura Parajón said in a weekly COVID-19 news briefing this afternoon. “We’re really excited that so many people were vaccinated in New Mexico compared to other states but we’re also seeing that huge surge of cases.”

New Mexico health officials today reported 1,357 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total so far to 334,324. DOH has designated 285,052 of those cases as recovered.

Bernalillo County had 376 new cases, followed by Doña Ana County with 174 and Sandoval County with 96. Santa Fe County had 57 new cases.

The entire state is at high risk for community transmission, state Epidemiologist Dr. Christine Ross said, even as the seven-day test positivity rate continues to decline: 9.9%, compared to the 7.5% target. Cases, hospitalizations and deaths also are rising nationally, she said.

“We had been hoping we were seeing a deceleration in new cases,” Ross said, “but that doesn’t appear to be the case and we certainly worry about our high case rates, particularly as we head into the holiday season.”

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New cases continue to be primarily among those who are not vaccinated. Over the last four weeks, 72% of cases were among the unvaccinated, as were 81.2% of hospitalizations and 81.6% of deaths.

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“Unvaccinated individuals continue to drive the pandemic,” Acting Health Secretary Dr. David Scrase said. Breakthrough cases, he noted, are happening at higher rates among younger age groups.

As for why that might be, “the first thing that comes to mind is that I don’t think that younger age group feels as constrained by public health orders as perhaps older age groups do…I think younger people feel less constrained, some contact tracing showed they had more contact, went to more places.”

In a nutshell, Ross said: “If you’re vaccinated and you stay at home and you don’t go out, you’re never going to be a vaccine breakthrough case. If you are out and about and you have a lot of exposures, you’re certainly going to increase your risk to be what we call a breakthrough case.”

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Nonetheless, health officials emphasized that learning to live with COVID-19, likely to continue for the foreseeable future, will be aided by more people seeking out vaccinations and boosters, while also adhering to the state’s indoor mask mandate and by observing social distancing.

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Scrase, noting his recent attendance at the New Mexico Gay Men’s Chorus Christmas concert—which required vaccination or proof of a negative test for concert-goers—asked that businesses and event organizers “think about what could you do to make your business or concert safer for people so they feel more comfortable coming in and we really do reduce the risk of spread.” He also asked people to provide businesses with feedback that would encourage such practices.

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The state’s death rates have remained high, if plateauing. Today, officials reported 25 additional deaths, 24 of them recent, including two from Santa Fe County: a female in her 80s from Santa Fe County who was hospitalized, had underlying conditions and was a resident of the Casa Real Facility in Santa Fe; and a male in his 30s from Santa Fe County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions. Santa Fe County has now had 190 deaths; there have been 5,516 total fatalities statewide.

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COVID-19 hospitalizations have declined by 100 since last week: As of today, 613 people are hospitalized with COVID-19.* Unfortunately, Scrase said, that decline hasn’t helped capacity—hospitals remain at crisis standards of care—due to high numbers of patients with other illnesses, many of whom delayed care during the pandemic.

“Unfortunately, our hospitals aren’t feeling any let up just yet,” he said, noting that ICU beds are “very tight” across the state, and emergency room waits exceedingly long.

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As 2021 comes to a close, many questions about the future for COVID-19 remain open, including the trajectory of the Omicron variant, the newest Variant of Concern. Thus far, New Mexico has only reported one case and Delta continues to drive the surge here.

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Ross noted preliminary studies indicating Omicron spreads more quickly but might be less severe, but emphasized repeatedly that it is too soon to know for sure. Officials expect Omicron cases to increase here, she said, but vaccinations and boosters will prevent cases from causing severe illness or death.

“We do have the tools to fight Omicron and all variants,” she said.

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New cases

  • 376 new cases in Bernalillo County
  • 1 new case in Catron County
  • 81 new cases in Chaves County
  • 24 new cases in Cibola County
  • 7 new cases in Colfax County
  • 64 new cases in Curry County
  • 1 new case in De Baca County
  • 174 new cases in Doña Ana County
  • 51 new cases in Eddy County
  • 28 new cases in Grant County
  • 3 new cases in Guadalupe County
  • 5 new cases in Hidalgo County
  • 28 new cases in Lea County
  • 38 new cases in Lincoln County
  • 2 new cases in Los Alamos County
  • 22 new cases in Luna County
  • 22 new cases in McKinley County
  • 1 new case in Mora County
  • 13 new cases in Otero County
  • 11 new cases in Quay County
  • 31 new cases in Rio Arriba County
  • 32 new cases in Roosevelt County
  • 96 new cases in Sandoval County
  • 71 new cases in San Juan County
  • 24 new cases in San Miguel County
  • 57 new cases in Santa Fe County
  • 7 new cases in Sierra County
  • 16 new cases in Socorro County
  • 3 new cases in Taos County
  • 5 new cases in Torrance County
  • 4 new cases in Union County
  • 58 new cases in Valencia County
  • 1 new case among New Mexico Corrections Department inmates at the Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Valencia County

New fatalities

  • A female in her 40s from Bernalillo County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A male in his 30s from Bernalillo County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A male in his 40s from Bernalillo County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A second male in his 40s from Bernalillo County who was hospitalized
  • A male in his 50s from Bernalillo County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A male in his 60s from Bernalillo County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A male in his 70s from Bernalillo County who was hospitalized
  • A second male in his 70s from Bernalillo County who was hospitalized
  • A male in his 80s from Bernalillo County who had underlying conditions
  • A male in his 70s from Curry County who was hospitalized
  • A female in her 70s from Doña Ana County who was hospitalized
  • A male in his 80s from Doña Ana County who had underlying conditions and was a resident of the Village at Northrise – Desert Willow facility in Las Cruces
  • A male in his 70s from Lincoln County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A female in her 70s from Rio Arriba County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A male in his 70s from Roosevelt County who was hospitalized
  • A male in his 50s from Sandoval County who was hospitalized
  • A male in his 50s from San Juan County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A male in his 70s from San Juan County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A second male in his 70s from San Juan County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A female in her 80s from Santa Fe County who was hospitalized, had underlying conditions and was a resident of the Casa Real Facility in Santa Fe.
  • A male in his 30s from Santa Fe County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A male in his 30s from Torrance County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A female in her 80s from Valencia County who was hospitalized
  • A male in his 40s from Valencia County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions

Newly reported fatality from more than 30 days ago

  • A female in her 80s from Luna County who was hospitalized and was a resident of the Willow Manor Residential Care Center in Deming

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
  • Aspen Ridge Lodge Retirement in Los Alamos
  • Artesia Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Artesia
  • Atria Vista Del Rio in Albuquerque
  • Avamere at Fiesta Park in Albuquerque
  • Avamere in Rio Rancho
  • Aztec Healthcare in Aztec
  • BeeHive Homes Alamogordo
  • BeeHive Homes in Clovis
  • BeeHive Homes in Roswell
  • Bloomfield Nursing and Rehab Center in Bloomfield
  • Blue Horizon Assisted Living In Las Cruces
  • The Bridge of Farmington in Farmington
  • Calibre Sagecrest Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Las Cruces
  • Casa Arena Blanca Nursing Center in Alamogordo
  • Casa de Carino in Albuquerque
  • Casa Maria Health Care Center in Roswell
  • Casa Real Genesis in Santa Fe
  • Casa Sandia in Albuquerque
  • Cedar Ridge Inn in Farmington
  • Fort Bayard Medical Center in Santa Clara
  • Genesis Healthcare Uptown in Albuquerque
  • Genesis McKinley Care Center in Gallup
  • Good Samaritan Society – Betty Dare in Alamogordo
  • Good Samaritan Society Las Cruces
  • Good Samaritan Society – Manzano del Sol Village in Albuquerque
  • Haciendas at Grace Village in Las Cruces
  • Lakeview Christian Home in Carlsbad
  • Las Cruces Post Acute and Rehabilitation Center of Cascadia (Welbrook Senior Living) in Las Cruces
  • Las Palomas Center in Albuquerque
  • Life Care Farmington
  • Little Sisters of the Poor in Gallup
  • Mimbres Memorial Nursing Home in Deming
  • Miners Colfax Medical Center in Raton
  • Mission Arch Center in Roswell
  • The Neighborhood Health Care in Rio Rancho
  • New Mexico State Veterans Home in Truth or Consequences
  • Odelia Healthcare (Camino Healthcare) in Albuquerque
  • Princeton Place in Albuquerque
  • The Rehabilitation Center of Albuquerque
  • The Retreat Healthcare in Rio Rancho
  • Sandia Ridge Genesis in Albuquerque
  • Sandia View Cottonwood Assisted Living in Albuquerque
  • Skies Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Albuquerque
  • Sombrillo Nursing Home in Los Alamos
  • South Valley Care Center in Albuquerque
  • Sugar Hollow Assisted Living Community in Albuquerque
  • Sunshine Assisted Living in Tucumcari
  • Vida Encantada Nursing & Rehabilitation in Las Vegas
  • Village at Northrise – Desert Willow in Las Cruces
  • The Watermark at Cherry Hills in Albuquerque
  • The Woodmark at Uptown in Albuquerque
  • White Sands Healthcare in Hobbs

Statewide cases

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

  • Bernalillo County: 93,472
  • Catron County: 274
  • Chaves County: 14,625
  • Cibola County: 4,307
  • Colfax County: 1,664
  • Curry County: 8,418
  • De Baca County: 375
  • Doña Ana County: 39,046
  • Eddy County: 12,213
  • Grant County: 3,987
  • Guadalupe County: 688
  • Harding County: 55
  • Hidalgo County: 661
  • Lea County: 14,392
  • Lincoln County: 3,602
  • Los Alamos County: 977
  • Luna County: 4,774
  • McKinley County: 17,233
  • Mora County: 444
  • Otero County: 8,824
  • Quay County: 1,502
  • Rio Arriba County: 6,070
  • Roosevelt County: 3,319
  • Sandoval County: 20,135
  • San Juan County: 27,750
  • San Miguel County: 3,249
  • Santa Fe County: 15,835
  • Sierra County: 1,427
  • Socorro County: 2,397
  • Taos County: 3,130
  • Torrance County: 1,794
  • Union County: 488
  • Valencia County: 11,865

Cases among people being held by federal agencies

  • Cibola County Correctional Center: 455
  • Otero County Federal Prison Facility: 573
  • Otero County Processing Center: 639
  • Torrance County Detention Facility: 356

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

  • Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Valencia County: 375
  • Guadalupe County Correctional Facility: 258
  • Lea County Correctional Facility: 765
  • Northeast New Mexico Correctional Facility in Union County: 214
  • Northwest New Mexico Correctional Center in Cibola County: 131
  • Otero County Prison Facility: 542
  • Penitentiary of New Mexico in Santa Fe County: 233
  • Roswell Correctional Center: 230
  • Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility in Doña Ana County: 238
  • Springer Correctional Center in Colfax County: 244
  • Western New Mexico Correctional Facility in Cibola County: 79

*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.