New Mexico’s omicron surge expected to peak in 3-5 days

[anvplayer video=”5085803″ station=”998127″]

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The omicron variant is still surging in New Mexico. State health officials believe the peak could be in the next three to five days.

New Mexico could start seeing a downward trend in the next week, according to the state’s Department of Health. Hospitalizations are still climbing – it takes about a week for those to follow the trend in cases.

State health officials also said, despite the omicron surge, the number of people on ventilators is at the lowest point so far during the pandemic. Now, the pressure is moving off ICUs and into emergency rooms.

"I think every single person who’s tuned in today would be able to answer, right now we each know more people who have COVID than we have since the beginning of the pandemic," Dr. David Scrase, acting NMDOH secretary, said during the COVID-19 update. "That’s a reflection of these case counts and infectivity of the omicron variant."

CDC guidance on isolation

The NMDOH spent some time breaking down the CDC’s latest guidance on isolation. Here’s what you need to know:

  • If you are not up to date on your vaccinations and have been in contact with someone who is positive, you should isolate at home for five days, then wear your mask for the next five days.
  • If you are up to date on your vaccinations, you are not required to isolate – just mask up.
  • Regardless of vaccination status, if you test positive or have symptoms, you should isolate for five days.

COVID-19 identified as third leading cause of death in 2020

The NMDOH has identified COVID-19 as the third leading cause of death for New Mexicans in 2020, outpaced only by deaths attributed to cancer and heart disease.

This finding echoes the national trend announced by the CDC earlier this week, which attributed an overall drop in life expectancy by nearly two years to COVID-19, the largest single-year decline since World War II.

In 2020, there were 2,847 deaths reported in New Mexico where COVID-19 was the leading cause.

COVID-19 testing

At this point, about 20% of New Mexicans have had COVID-19.

State health officials say they are trying to provide better masks and readily available at-home testing options. At-home COVID-19 tests are best for people who are asymptomatic. PCR tests are recommended for those with symptoms, though the lab turnaround time for those tests has been slightly delayed – results take about a day and a half.

Right now, Bernalillo County has started distributing at-home tests meant for people within county zip codes that have the highest positivity rates and are at higher vulnerability. Those zip codes are 87105, 87108, 87102, 87121, 87123, and 87104.

On Wednesday, New Mexico reported 40 additional deaths and more than 4,000 new COVID-19 cases.