State to require booster shots for some workers - Albuquerque Journal

State to require booster shots for some workers

A COVID-19 patient is wheeled into a Lovelace Hospital intensive care unit room Nov. 18. New Mexico reported more than 2,000 new COVID cases on Thursday, Dec. 2. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

New Mexico reported more than 2,000 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday — the first time this year cases surpassed that threshold in a single day.

The case count totaled 2,054, including 610 in Bernalillo County. The state also reported 14 COVID-related deaths, pushing the overall toll to 5,393. Four of the deaths reported Thursday were Bernalillo County residents.

There were 655 people hospitalized with COVID.

Acting Health Secretary Dr. David Scrase said this week that there are few ICU beds available throughout the state, and that 90% of ICU beds are in hospitals that have declared crisis standards of care, which can affect how physicians care for patients in some circumstances.

The high case-count comes amid a push by state health officials to encourage residents to get their booster vaccines when eligible.

On Thursday, the state issued an amended emergency public health order that will require many workers receive a booster shot. Scrase forecast the order in a news conference Wednesday.

New Mexico for months has required that many workers in higher-risk environments, such as people who work in health care and congregate-care settings, be vaccinated against the virus. Public school and state employees likewise must be vaccinated or subject to weekly testing.

The amended order that Scrase issued Thursday will require all those workers receive a booster shot no later than Jan. 17 or within four weeks of becoming eligible.

All New Mexico adults are eligible for a booster shot six months after they complete their shot series of the vaccines made by Pfizer or Moderna or two months after receiving the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

About 75% of New Mexico adults are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

State officials said Thursday that the change to the public health order comes after the World Health Organization raised concerns about a new virus variant, omicron, that may be a more transmissible version of the disease.

“New Mexico is doing well with boosters, better than the national average, but we still must do better,” Scrase said in a statement. “Our hospitals are overfull, and the spread of the virus continues to exacerbate the issue. New Mexico isn’t an island, and we can’t prevent the new variant from arriving here. So we must defend ourselves with the tools we know to work: Masks, vaccines and personal decisions that serve to protect the collective well-being.”


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