Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE – The number of New Mexico deaths due to COVID-19 has steadily increased in recent weeks, even as the number of new virus cases and hospitalizations have started to gradually decline.
State health officials reported 69 deaths related to the virus during a weeklong period that ended Monday – up from 59 deaths during the previous week.
Before that, there had been 42 deaths during a two-week period that ended Sept. 6, according to state Department of Health data. The grim trend showed signs of continuing Tuesday as state health officials reported 12 additional deaths to COVID-19, bringing the state’s death toll to 4,776 since the pandemic hit New Mexico in March 2020.
Many of the deaths reported Tuesday were elderly individuals with underlying health conditions, a group that has been at heightened risk during the pandemic. But the newly-reported deaths also included a man in his 20s from Torrance County.
The recent uptick in COVID-19 deaths has occurred after a surge in new cases due to the highly contagious delta variant of COVID-19.
Top state health officials have said the increase in deaths is not unexpected, as deaths have tended to lag behind virus cases and hospitalizations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition, most of those who have died to COVID-19 have not been vaccinated against the virus. Of the 123 state fatalities related to the virus during a recent four-week period, 120 individuals – or roughly 97.6% – were unvaccinated.
Despite the recent increase, New Mexico’s death rate due to COVID-19 remains far below the state’s December 2020 peak that saw more than 300 virus-related deaths in a single week.
That could be in part due to a state vaccine administration rate that is among the nation’s highest, as nearly 80% of residents age 18 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 70.5% of adults had as of Tuesday gotten all shots necessary to be fully vaccinated.
While vaccinated individuals have also tested positive for the virus, state health officials have said their symptoms are generally less severe than those of unvaccinated individuals who contract COVID-19.
As of Tuesday, there were 301 individuals hospitalized due to COVID-19 around New Mexico – down from 369 hospitalizations a week before.
There were also 613 new confirmed cases announced Tuesday by the state Department of Health, including 135 new cases in Bernalillo County.