2 years of COVID-19: New Mexico health officials provide update on pandemic
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — On Friday the New Mexico Department of Health marked two years of the pandemic in the state with a COVID-19 update.
"COVID has been devastating, we’ve lost 7,000 people, more than that now to this deadly virus, but many of us have learned new things, many of us have grown, many of us have changed, many of us have learned to appreciate when we get it, that time spent with family," Dr. David Scrase, acting secretary for the state’s Department of Health, said.
Scrase noted improvement in New Mexico – hospitalizations are down and restrictions are easing up. Masks are largely optional for New Mexicans now, including in schools, despite multiple studies that show mask requirements made a big difference in reducing spread.
"We always strongly recommend everything that science guides us, but we also hear loud and clear from people who don’t believe it’s our role in government to tell people what to do, particularly in what you might call a time of peace like we’re having right now," Scrase said.
Scrase said the NMDOH is developing a plan to deal with future surges or variants as needed. They’re also working to update the state’s emergency plan for pandemics to reflect what they’ve learned over the course of COVID-19.
On Friday, New Mexico reported 10 additional COVID-19 deaths, 148 hospitalizations and 264 new cases.
NMDOH COVID-19 timeline:
- March 11, 2020: First confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in New Mexico. The number of positive infections in New Mexico has exceeded 500,000 cases to date.
- March 12, 2020: New Mexico closes K-12 public schools to prevent potential spread of COVID-19.
- March 13, 2020: Insurance superintendent guarantees free COVID-19 testing and treatment for New Mexicans.
- March 14, 2020: Nursing homes should limit most visitors to prevent potential spread of COVID-19.
- March 25, 2020: NMDOH announces the first COVID-19 death in New Mexico.
- December 9, 2020: New Mexico activates Crisis Standards of Care.
- December 14, 202o: The first vaccine is administered in the state of New Mexico, which becomes a national leader in vaccination. To date, more than 3,727,493 vaccines have been administered to New Mexicans!
- Spring 2021: Vaccine equity across New Mexico is prioritized with a view toward eliminating barriers: free of charge, no need for identification, insurance coverage, or doctor’s visit required.
- June 29, 2021, New Mexico reaches 70 percent vaccination rate.
- September 29, 2021: New Mexico introduces booster vaccine eligibility website.
- October 25, 2021: Crisis Standards of Care declared again and continues thru March 11, 2022, almost five months.
- December 22, 2021: New Mexico launches free at-home COVID-19 tests. To date, NMDOH has facilitated access to more than 4 million free at-home tests for New Mexicans, including distribution of over 2 million to New Mexico communities.
- December 13, 2021: New Mexico identifies first Omicron COVID-19 case.
- December 30, 2021: Oral therapeutics arrive in New Mexico to treat COVID-19
- January 2022: NMDOH procures and distributes more than 1 million high quality N95 and KN95 masks for free to New Mexicans.
- January 17, 2022: New Mexico introduces free at-home rapid testing program.
- February 17, 2022: Indoor mask mandate is lifted. NMDOH continues to recommend the utilization of tools for immunocompromised populations and those who live with or care for them: mask wearing, keeping at-home tests on hand for early diagnosis and seeking at-home oral treatments. Everyone is encouraged to practice vigilance and perform regular personal risk assessments to protect themselves and their loved ones from severe outcomes associated with COVID-19.