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NM virus cases, hospitalizations decline

Nurses who call themselves “tappers” work to eliminate air bubbles in their syringes at a COVID-19 vaccination site at Albuquerque’s Tingley Coliseum in this Jan. 6 file photo. More than 108,000 vaccine doses have now been administered around New Mexico.. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – New Mexico’s rolling average of new COVID-19 cases continued a weeklong drop Friday, as the state looked to put a post-holiday case bump in the rearview mirror.

State health officials reported 1,266 new cases from around New Mexico, bringing the rolling average of new cases over the last week to 1,194 per day, according to a Journal analysis.

That’s the lowest figure since Jan. 2.

Hospitalizations due to the virus also decreased Friday – to 670 from 691 a day earlier – to reach their lowest level since that same date.

However, an additional 38 deaths related to COVID-19 were also reported, bringing the state’s pandemic death toll to 2,874 individuals.

Many of those who have died have been elderly individuals with underlying health conditions like diabetes, heart disease and lung disease, though some younger New Mexicans are also among the victims.

Meanwhile, the improved virus outlook comes as Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and other state officials are considering allowing public school students around New Mexico to return to in-person learning, possibly under a hybrid model that also involves remote instruction.

The arrival of two different types of coronavirus vaccines has also stoked optimism, with Lujan Grisham saying Thursday there is a “light at the end of this very long, dark tunnel.”

Statewide, the number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered reached 108,456 as of Friday, according to the state Department of Health.

The department reported having received 153,475 doses, though some federal agencies have cited a higher number.

In addition, top state health officials clarified Friday that vaccine providers can administer shots to individuals in yet-to-be-reached phases under the state’s vaccine distribution plan, but only in certain circumstances.

Those circumstances include when vaccine doses are about to expire or when there is not enough demand for vaccinations within the populations currently eligible – health care workers, staff and residents of nursing homes or other group facilities and individuals 75 and older.

“New Mexico has two goals: to distribute vaccine as quickly as possible, and to ensure that vaccine goes to those who are most exposed – and most vulnerable – to COVID-19,” said DOH Secretary-designate Tracie Collins.

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