State health officials provide update on COVID-19 in New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Omicron variant was detected in New Mexico earlier this week. The variant is spreading quickly across the country.

For example, in the New York area, Omicron already accounts for around 13% of all COVID-19 cases there. An NBC report on a study out of South Africa said the area data shows the new variant causes a more mild illness – and the Pfizer vaccine offers slightly less protection against it.

"I do think it’s too early to tell, but I do agree, the anecdotal reports out of South Africa, the early data from the UK, there are indications that the clinical spectrum of the disease appears to be milder," said Dr. Christine Ross, New Mexico’s state epidemiologist. "So we surely hope that does end up being the case."

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The COVID-19 vaccine has now been available for a year. 75% of adults in New Mexico are fully vaccinated, and the state is reportedly the 10th best in the nation for getting the booster shot.

However, state health officials said hospitalizations are still way too high. Hospitals are still slammed and in need of workers.

"We’re not near the endgame when our health care delivery system is being completely overwhelmed and has to declare crisis standards of care," Ross said. "Even though we’re so far into this, and we’ve made so many advancements – the one indication that we know we’re not there, is when we look at the health care delivery system."

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On Wednesday, New Mexico reported more than 1,300 COVID-19 cases and 25 deaths. 72% of all new COVID-19 cases are among the unvaccinated.