- New Mexico is among several states that are seeing increases in COVID-19 cases.
- Daily cases beat forecasts for May.
- Increase attributed to omicron subvariants, lack of masking and waning immunity.
As subvariants of the omicron SARS-Cov-2 variant continue to spread, New Mexico is among several states seeing increases in daily cases of COVID-19.
Laboratories confirmed 2,479 new cases between May 9 and May 16, according to the state Health Department. That number has been rising steadily since April, more than doubling the 1,117 cases reported for the week of April 18-25.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a 26 percent rise in cases nationwide last week, with an average of 275 deaths per day and an average of 3,000 daily hospitalizations from COVID-19.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky provided the rising numbers in a briefing Wednesday in Washington, DC, urging Americans in areas with higher transmission to wear masks in indoor public spaces to slow transmission and get vaccinated or boosted, as by US Today reports .
However, figuring out that information has become more difficult as the CDC website draws public attention to its “community-level” heatmap, which continues to encouragingly show most of New Mexico (and most of the United States as a whole) green.
The “community-level” map is a measure of weekly hospitalizations for COVID-19 per 100,000 population, accounting for the percentage of staffed inpatient beds of COVID-19 patients and new cases during the week.
However, the community’s transmission map shows high levels of spread from Doña Ana County in the south through 15 contiguous counties, including even Los Alamos County, where more than 95 percent of residents have completed a basic course of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Daily COVID cases in New Mexico exceed model report
Health officials have acknowledged that daily cases are falling short of the true number of cases as New Mexico increasingly relies on home testing rather than lab-confirmed tests that report results to the health department.
COVID-19 cases are increasing again.There are 3 main reasons for this.
The United States this week passed its millionth death from COVID-19 disease, which is also widely considered too low. 7,650 deaths were counted in New Mexico as of Wednesday.
While most cases of COVID-19 recover after mild to moderate illness, the disease also has a 1.4 percent mortality rate, much higher than influenza (with which COVID-19 shares many common symptoms).
On Wednesday, the health department reported 611 new cases in a single day, with 85 COVID-19 patients hospitalized nationwide, 15 of whom were on ventilators. Between May 8 and May 15, the health department reported 52 COVID-19 admissions. This does not take into account the large number of non-COVID patients due to delayed diagnosis or care for other health conditions.
The 611 cases in a single day topped a model report from Los Alamos National Laboratory earlier in the month, which on May 3 forecast daily cases would be “between 35 and 490 over the next few weeks.”
The lab’s modeling found that while death rates have fallen recently, daily infections are increasing due to waning immunity from previous vaccinations and reduced indoor masking. The report recommends well-fitting N95 masks.
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The report analyzed immunization data from New Mexico and found that falling immunity would contribute to rising infection rates in May and a possible increase in the severity of cases, which could result in hospitalizations and/or death.
Meanwhile, it has been calculated that about 600,000 New Mexicans who are eligible for a third dose or booster have not received one and that vaccinations in children aged 5 to 11 remain “slow”.
Between May 9 and May 15, sparsely populated De Baca County reported the highest concentration of new cases when adjusted to per 100,000 residents (a method of comparing areas with different population sizes), followed by Rio Arriba and Santa counties feet
In the southern half of the state, Grant County recorded the highest transmission rates this week, at 28.7 daily cases per 100,000 residents. Other southern counties recorded lower rates, with Doña Ana recording 14.2 per 100,000.
In the southeast corner, where much of the state’s oil and gas production occurs, Lea County had one of the lowest transmission rates (2.2 per 100,000) and Eddy County, with Carlsbad as its county seat, reported 5.9 daily cases per population.
McKinley and San Juan counties, which includes parts of the Navajo Nation hard-hit in the first year of the pandemic, reported 8.9 and 8.4 cases per 100,000, respectively. McKinley County also claims the highest immunization coverage in the state, with 99 percent of its population having completed a basic immunization course.
Omicron, including at least four subvariants, accounts for virtually all infections currently being sequenced in the United States, according to CDC data.