Home New mexico state State vulnerability to pandemics and disasters by county

State vulnerability to pandemics and disasters by county

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NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – More than half of New Mexico’s population has at least two risk factors that make them “less likely to have the capacity and resources to overcome the obstacles presented at an event dangerous ”, like a pandemic, according to newly published data from the US Census Bureau. Only 16% of the state’s population has no risk factors.

According to the census, risk factors – such as low income, unemployment, lack of health insurance, and pre-existing conditions like heart disease or diabetes – point to vulnerabilities within a community. And “although the list of risk factors is not exhaustive,” says R. Chase Sawyer, survey statistician at the US Census Bureau, the factors give some idea of ​​a community’s ability to recover from a disaster. .

This kind of knowledge – knowledge of the most vulnerable communities – has already helped guide COVID-19 relief here in New Mexico. Dr. David Scrase, secretary of the New Mexico Department of Health (DOH), pointed out that the use of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Social vulnerability index, which is similar to the census vulnerability measure, New Mexico “cracked the code to get vaccines into the hands of those who needed them most.”

“New Mexico has the highest social vulnerability index in America,” Scrase said at a press conference Aug. 11. And in New Mexico, of course, some counties, such as Luna, Cibola, McKinley, Socorro, and San Miguel, are more vulnerable than others. Yet here in New Mexico, the more vulnerable the county, the higher the percentage of its population vaccinated against COVID-19, according to DOH data.

The most recent census data, originally collected in 2019 and now analyzed by the US Census Bureau, shows New Mexico ranks in the top ten states for the largest percentage of the state’s population with knowing three or more risk factors. This means that we are likely to have a harder time recovering from the pandemic or other disasters.

We’re tied with Texas for having 29.8% of the population experiencing three or more risk factors. Florida and the District of Columbia are even worse. They each have nearly a third of the population experiencing three or more risk factors.


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In many counties in the United States, more than 50% of the population has one or two risk factors that could make them more vulnerable to disasters. Data United States Census Bureau.


In New Mexico, Catron, Mora, Sierra, Guadalupe and McKinley County are among the most at risk, with about 40% of their respective populations having three or more risk factors, according to the data. More risk factors mean an area is less likely to experience all of the impacts – health impacts, social impacts, and economic impacts – of disasters like the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the census. On the flip side, only 18% of Los Alamos County has three or more risk factors, which makes them more resilient.

In the state, the health impacts of COVID-19 have already disproportionately affected some at-risk communities. The Navajo Nation has suffered severe repercussions from the virus, and the the most recent DOH data shows that the higher the poverty rate in a census tract of New Mexico, the higher the rate of COVID-19 infection, on average.

Recently released census data shows Bernalillo County is in the middle of the pack in terms of vulnerability, with 31% of the population facing three or more risk factors that make them less likely to withstand the impacts of a disaster. . Just under 10% of the population of Bernalillo County has no risk factors, the data shows. And in Albuquerque, there are areas where about 50% of residents have three or more risk factors.


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Resilience varies across Albuquerque as some neighborhoods have more at-risk residents. Data United States Census Bureau, UNM RGIS.


While U.S. Census data doesn’t show exactly what risk factors New Mexico residents face, previous census data does give some clues. For example, the lack of health insurance is one of the risk factors in the census. Here in New Mexico, 12.1% of the population under 65 had no health insurance, according to 2019 data. That’s over 200,000 uninsured people.

An elderly population also increases the risk of a community. Across New Mexico there were over 377,000 residents over 65 living in New Mexico, according to 2019 data, the latest tally available. This means that 18% of the state’s population is over 65, compared to 16.5% of the national population.


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Health insurance estimates for small areas

While New Mexico has many residents without health insurance, a greater percentage of our state is insured than Texas, which had more than 20% of uninsured residents under 65 in 2019. United States Census Bureau.


Of course, it’s not just the elderly who are potentially at risk during disasters and pandemics. Adults and children are also considered at risk if, for example, they live in a household with only one caretaker, according to the census. And compared to the average for the rest of the United States, New Mexico has historically had a higher percentage of households headed by a single mother, grandmother or other woman, according to data from the US Census Bureau.

Language barriers are also counted as risk factors. In New Mexico, 5.3% of all households are considered “limited English-speaking households,” according to data from the U.S. Census Community Survey 2019. Nationally, 4.3% of households are “limited English speakers,” meaning that all household members over the age of 14 have difficulty speaking English.


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Several counties in New Mexico have relatively high numbers of limited English-speaking households. Data United States Census Bureau.


Now, Department of Health spokesperson David Morgan says they continue to focus COVID-19 prevention efforts on New Mexico’s most vulnerable. “Our community health worker outreach has made a huge difference in some of the more remote areas of the state where community health workers (aka promatoras) armed with tablets and access points have been going door-to-door and house-to-house. home to talk to people face to face. -faces about the vaccine, its safety and the difference it makes in protecting people from serious illness and death.

“We will continue to work on this,” he told KRQE, with the long-term goal of “laying the groundwork for improved health equity for groups that have been affected in such a way. disproportionate by COVID and other diseases ”.

While data shows some communities are more at risk than others, the COVID-19 delta variant affects all communities, even those with fewer vulnerabilities. “The virus has evolved into a new, more infectious virus that spreads up to four times faster [than the original variant], to four times as many people, ”DOH’s Dr Scrase told New Mexicans in a August 17 press conference. “Please get tested. Please seek treatment if you are HIV positive, and I think everyone should be careful inside. No matter what county you live in, at this point it’s a high risk environment.


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