City leaders address surge of COVID-19 cases in Albuquerque

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — With COVID-19 cases on the rise, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller hosted a COVID-19 update to explain what the city is doing about the pandemic.

"We felt the need to provide an update from the city’s perspective on where we’re at with respect to the resurgent pandemic," Keller said. "We are requiring masks again. Now we’re just doing it for ourselves at the city government facilities. So any city government facility you’ll now have to wear a mask, whether it’s a community center, library, all of these things."

Dr. Mark DiMenna with Albuquerque’s Environmental Health Department said masks, even for the fully vaccinated, are important because the viral load with the Delta variant is so great – it’s like getting caught in a monsoon storm.

"You just get so much of a deluge, that even if with a great raincoat or an umbrella, you’re bound to get wet," DiMenna said.

That’s why DiMenna was making the case for more New Mexicans to get vaccinated.

"It’s important to differentiate what you hear in the news as those alarming trends, versus what the actual percentages look like," DiMenna said. "It’s still a very rare situation for a vaccinated individual to get sick."

NBC News reports more than 125,000 fully vaccinated Americans have gotten COVID-19 and 1,400 fully vaccinated Americans have died since January. That might sound like a lot, but it’s still less than 1% of all fully vaccinated people who get sick.

While data on breakthrough cases continues to grow, the vaccine is still proving to be protective.

"Almost 100% of the cases where people are being hospitalized now, or dying from COVID, are among unvaccinated people," DiMenna said.

The mayor also compared Albuquerque to other similar cities and said the surge of cases is smaller here because Albuquerque’s vaccination rate is higher than others.