Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

COVID growth tapers off in NM

Prepared Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine syringes for children ages 5 to 11 and adults are displayed. An FDA advisory committee on Wednesday recommended that children as young as six months receive the vaccine. (AP Photo/Nam Y Huh, File)

The rise in COVID-19 cases in New Mexico tapered off this week, according to weekly epidemiology reports.

New Mexico reported 6,357 new COVID cases in the weekly case report dated Monday, which was about a 4% increase from the week before.

There was an increase in hospital admissions during the same time period. There were 122 patients with COVID admitted to hospitals during the week, up from 102 new admissions the week before.

On Wednesday, the state reported 1,132 new cases and four more deaths, pushing the total to 7,869 deaths since the onset of the pandemic. There were 165 people hospitalized with COVID throughout the state on Wednesday.

Amid a high number of cases in the community and among city employees — including Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller, who tested positive last week — City Council President Isaac Benton moved the June 22 council meeting to a virtual format on Zoom. The need for virtual meetings will be reassessed when the council returns from its July break in August.

dr David Scrase, the acting health secretary, cautioned last week that cases could be more prevalent than what is being reported, because many people are testing at home and their positive cases aren’t included in the state data.

New Mexico had been seeing a more dramatic rise in new cases in recent weeks, but health officials pointed out that hospitalizations and deaths were not rising as sharply.

Scrase said during a media briefing last week that there are multiple factors keeping deaths and hospitalizations comparatively low. People have built up immunity to the virus through vaccinations and prior infections; therapeutics are proving to be successful at staving off death and serious illness; and it appears the virus is evolving to be less lethal, he said.

Health officials have stressed that COVID vaccines are extremely effective. On Wednesday, a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee recommended children as young as 6 months old receive the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. Children under 5 had been the only group without access to a COVID vaccine. The FDA hasn’t yet granted emergency use authorizations for the youngest people to be vaccinated against COVID.

Despite the successes of the vaccines, breakthrough cases do happen.

During a recent four-week period, vaccinated individuals accounted for about 48% of the hospitalizations and 54.6% of the deaths. About 80% of New Mexico adults are fully vaccinated.

During that same four-week period, 12 vaccinated people died of COVID and 10 unvaccinated people died. There were 250 unvaccinated people who were hospitalized and 231 fully-vaccinated people who were hospitalized during the same four-week period.

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