State weathers latest COVID variant - Albuquerque Journal

State weathers latest COVID variant

A healthcare worker fills a syringe with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a Miami hospital in this October 2021 file photo. A new updated version of the COVID vaccine is available, and the state will be making a push to offer the vaccine at assisted living and nursing home facilities. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico appears to have weathered the latest COVID-19 variant and hospitalizations have dipped to their lowest levels in months, according to state Department of Health officials.

As of Thursday, a total of 81 people with COVID are in hospitals throughout the state, the lowest total since mid-May, Dr. David Scrase, the acting health secretary, said during a COVID-19 update Thursday.

The state reported 1,657 confirmed cases in the week ending Sept. 12, which was a 51% decrease in two weeks.

The state reported 12 more COVID-related deaths on Thursday, pushing the total to 8,509 since the onset of the pandemic.

“It looks like we’ve gotten over the latest (omicron subvariant) hump,” Scrase said.

Meanwhile, the state shored up a large supply of the new bivalent COVID vaccine, which offers protection against the original strain of the virus, as well as the new omicron variants, said Dr. Laura Parajon, acting state epidemiologist. The state has administrated more than 7,000 of the updated doses, Parajon said.

Katrina Hotrum-Lopez, secretary of the state Aging and Long-Term Services Department, said that, in coming weeks, the state will be holding vaccine clinics at the roughly 300 assisted living and nursing home facilities throughout the state, as well as about 200 senior centers.

“We are undertaking a very aggressive effort to make sure that every senior living in an assisted living facility and nursing home has the opportunity to be vaccinated,” Scrase said.

The updated vaccines are recommended for most people once they are two months removed from their most recent COVID booster shot. One of the vaccines has been approved for people 12 and older, and one is approved for those 18 and older.

People can make an appointment for a shot through the health department or via their other health care providers, Scrase said.

COVID is not the only infectious disease being monitored throughout the state.

Parajon said the state has confirmed 33 cases of the monkeypox. The disease rarely requires hospitalization, but can cause painful blisters.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website says early data shows gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men make up a high number of cases. But the agency said anyone who has had close contact with someone who has monkeypox is at risk.

There is a vaccine for the disease, but supplies are limited. Parajon said the vaccine is available to people at high risk of getting the disease and others who have been in contact with someone with the disease.

The state has given about 1,700 people their first dose and 179 people have had two doses.

Additionally, the West Nile virus has arrived in the state, as it does most years, Parajon said. The virus is usually spread through mosquito bites.

So far in New Mexico, three human cases and one animal case have been confirmed.

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