Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal
New Mexico set a record for new reported COVID-19 cases for the third straight day Friday as the omicron variant continued to surge.
State health officials announced 6,198 additional confirmed cases, exceeding Thursday’s total of 6,010.
The New Mexico Department of Health also reported 30 additional COVID-19 deaths, pushing the state’s death toll to 6,259.
Also Friday, the U.S. military announced it will deploy two 20-person medical teams to hospitals in Albuquerque and Shiprock, joining a third team working in Farmington.
As of Friday, 633 people were hospitalized in New Mexico for COVID-19, down from 712 on Thursday.
State health officials also identified COVID-19 as the third leading cause of death for New Mexicans in 2020, trailing only cancer and heart disease. The state reported 2,847 deaths that year.
COVID-19 killed Native Americans at nine times the rate of Anglos in 2020, the Department of Health reported. Hispanics died at 2.4 times the rate of Anglos.
Despite the omicron variant surge, health officials credit a statewide vaccination effort for tempering COVID-19 death rates in New Mexico.
As of Friday, 91% of New Mexicans 18 and older had received at least one vaccine dose, 77% had completed the vaccine series and 40% had received a booster shot.
The 30 additional COVID-19 deaths reported Friday include 17 within the past 30 days.
Four New Mexicans in their 40s are among the recent deaths, including a Bernalillo County woman, a Lincoln County woman, a San Juan County man and a Valencia County man.
A U.S. Army spokesman said most of the military medical personnel in New Mexico are likely to work with COVID-19 patients.
The teams will be fully integrated into the existing medical staff at those hospitals, said Col. Martin O’Donnell, public affairs director for U.S. Army North in San Antonio, Texas.
Each 20-person team includes physicians, nurses and respiratory therapists, “all of whom have the ability within their various specialties to treat COVID patients,” O’Donnell said.
One U.S. Navy team is slated to begin work Sunday at University of New Mexico Hospital.
A U.S. Army team is traveling to the Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock and is scheduled to begin work Tuesday.
A U.S. Navy medical team began work Dec. 9 at the San Juan Regional Medical Center in Farmington.
The teams are among 220 military medical personnel currently, or soon to be, deployed in eight states and the Navajo Nation to support civilian hospital staff.
“What they are doing is assisting the hospital and alleviating the stress … from COVID,” he said.