Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE – New Mexico inched closer Thursday to a grim milestone – 5,000 deaths related to COVID-19 – as state health officials reported seven additional deaths.
The deaths brought the state’s death toll to 4,973 since the coronavirus pandemic hit New Mexico in early 2020.
While many of the state’s virus-related deaths have been elderly individuals with underlying health conditions, the deaths reported Thursday included a man in his 30s from Harding County.
It marked just the third virus-related death recorded in Harding County, which has the state’s smallest population at 657 people as of 2020, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
Meanwhile, state health officials also reported 1,132 new confirmed virus cases statewide, including 283 in Bernalillo County and 169 in San Juan County.
A recent surge in new COVID-19 cases fueled by the highly contagious delta variant prompted Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s administration in August to reimpose a face mask mandate for indoor public settings, regardless of an individual’s vaccination status.
It also led the state Department of Health to activate crisis standards of care for its hospital system this week for a second time – the first time was in December 2020 – in order to be able to ration care amid a shortage of intensive care beds and nurses.
As of Thursday, there were 379 individuals hospitalized due to COVID-19 around New Mexico – up from 369 a week earlier.
Most of the state’s new virus cases, hospitalizations and deaths have occurred among unvaccinated individuals, though some vaccinated residents have also tested positive.
During a four-week period that ended this week, unvaccinated individuals made up 74% of new cases and 76% of those hospitalized, according to state Department of Health data.
The percentage was even higher when it comes to deaths related to COVID-19, as 107 of the 111 people who died during that time period – or 96.4% – were unvaccinated, while four individuals were vaccinated.
Currently, slightly more than 81% of New Mexicans age 18 and older have gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while 72% of adults had received all doses necessary to be fully vaccinated, according to DOH data.