State health leaders address increase of COVID-19 cases in New Mexico

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — For the first time in twelve weeks, state health leaders held a virtual COVID-19 update Wednesday afternoon. That’s because COVID-19 case numbers in New Mexico are rising again.

The good news is that the cases are less severe.

Acting Department of Health Secretary Dr. David Scrase and state epidemiologist Christine Ross gave an update on the latest COVID-19 trends.

Ross said cases have been on the rise for several weeks now, both statewide and nationally. Hospitalizations have also gone up in New Mexico, jumping from 36 to 140 over a two-week period last month.       

But Ross said only about 3% of people hospitalized with COVID-19 are in the ICU or on ventilators.

“I think there is clearly a large burden of infections, wide scale infections in our community right now,” Ross said. “I think it’s obvious we all know someone who’s infected with COVID-19 right now, maybe more so than other periods of this pandemic. But clearly we are not seeing that impact on our hospital numbers, and thank goodness we are not seeing that impact on our death surveillance numbers.”

Ross thinks this wave is different than past ones because of the current variant that’s circulating and due to immunity from vaccines and previous infections.

On Wednesday, the NMDOH reported 13 additional COVID-19-related deaths and 1,100 new cases.