Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE – New Mexico passed another COVID-19 milepost Monday, with state health officials reporting that more than 1 million eligible state residents had completed their vaccine shots to make them less vulnerable to the virus.
The boost in vaccine numbers over the weekend pushed the total number of those getting the shots to 59.8% – or just short of the 60% goal set by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in order to eliminate pandemic-related business capacity limits and other restrictions on July 1.
However, the Democratic governor announced Friday the state was forging ahead with its reopening plans, in large part since expected vaccine data from Texas and a federal agency could push New Mexico’s fully vaccinated mark to the 60% mark – or even slightly above it.
Top health officials in the Lujan Grisham administration have said New Mexico will continue its push to increase vaccination rates, even though a $100 incentive program for getting fully vaccinated recently ended.
While more than 1 million New Mexicans age 16 and older have now completed their COVID-19 shots, Health Secretary Tracie Collins said last week there were still about 85,000 state residents eligible for their second shot after getting an initial dose.
“We are learning that just receiving the first of two vaccines in a series is not enough to protect you against some of the highly infectious variants,” Collins said in a recent statement.
With the vaccine rate increasing, New Mexico’s rate of COVID-19 infections has dropped to its lowest level since April 2020 and the state’s death rate related to the virus has also gone down.
But the virus has not been fully stamped out in New Mexico – or other states – and state health officials on Monday reported 10 additional deaths due to COVID-19, bringing the state’s death toll to 4,326 since the pandemic began.
While most of those who have died from the virus were elderly New Mexicans with underlying health conditions, the latest fatalities included a Lea County man in his 30s and a Bernalillo County man in his 40s, according to Department of Health data.
Statewide, more than 94% of the individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 have made full recoveries, according to DOH figures, a number that could be even higher due to tracking gaps.