The coronavirus and its delta variant have plunged New Mexico and the nation back into a state of worry that many believed to have calmed down.
While they usually don’t make sweeping changes, health facilities in the area, including hospitals and nursing homes, are monitoring the situation. A huge national nursing home company, Genesis HealthCare, said this week it would require staff to get vaccinated.
The number of coronavirus cases is on the rise, with well over half attributable to the delta variant, a highly contagious mutation that has emerged as the virus evolves.
As of Monday, the seven-day average of coronavirus cases stood at 2,317, far more than the state had seen since early March.
The state health ministry reported on Thursday that there have been 671 cases in the past 24 hours.
The state recorded three more deaths for a total of 4,419. There were also 203 patients receiving hospital care for COVID-19, the highest number of hospitalizations in the state since the end of February.
In the past six months, 93% of COVID-19-related hospitalizations and 98% of COVID-19-related deaths in New Mexico were in unvaccinated people, according to the state’s health department.
“Unvaccinated people are behind the recent increase in cases and hospitalizations, and the unvaccinated population bears the brunt of serious illnesses leading to hospitalizations and deaths,” wrote Nora Meyers Sackett, spokesperson from the governor’s office, in an email. “It’s preventable! And preventable! Vaccines work.
A spokesperson for the State Department on Aging and Long-Term Services said there had been an increase in inquiries from facilities “about a return to more stringent testing requirements, which they said. are welcome to do “.
Luke Nachtrab, owner of Vista Living Care, which has two facilities in Santa Fe and one in Las Cruces, said his centers will begin testing staff twice a month this month, down from once a month.
“We are certainly not panicking,” Nachtrab said. Questions about closing facilities to visits were raised during the meetings, but “I don’t feel like we’re even close to feeling pressured into closing,” he said.
At the Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, coronavirus testing resumed this week at 1910 Cerrillos Road. The institution had moved the tests to a smaller site due to low demand. But new interest has forced hospital officials to return tests to the respiratory collection site, which has more capacity.
“We just had to adjust to the volume,” said Monica Leyba, the hospital’s head nurse.
In the past seven days, Leyba said, a total of 641 people have been tested at the Cerrillos site and in the hospital’s emergency department. During a recent ebb of the pandemic, Christus only tested about 25 per day, she said. The daily average of tests over the past week has been over 90.
Marcy Reames of Palmilla Senior Living in Albuquerque said Thursday that “nothing has changed here when it comes to going back.”
And Dave Armijo, administrator of the Taos Living Center, said his staff knew how to be more careful than in the recent past, “but we have always erred on the side of caution.” Major changes in strategy were not necessary, Armijo said.
The Lovelace Health System, along with hospitals in Albuquerque and Roswell, announced that as of Thursday it will generally only allow one visitor per patient. Spokeswoman Whitney Marquez said nurses and caregivers could previously limit the number to two if they deemed it necessary.
Presbyterian Healthcare Services, based in Albuquerque, said its nine hospitals in the state had higher coronavirus counts than in July.
Presbyterian’s chief safety officer Dr Jeff Salvon-Harman said in a statement that the 63 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in his system on Thursday were “about twice as many” as last month.
New Mexico State University’s public health program Dr. Jagdish Khubchandani said the nation “has lost the opportunity to end the pandemic sooner” by not vaccinating more people.
“We should be very concerned about the situation across the country and individuals should get vaccinated as soon as possible,” he said in an email.
And yes, he said, “people should be afraid”.