SANTA FE – Health officials were optimistic about the outlook for COVID-19 in New Mexico on Wednesday, with vaccinations currently surpassing new daily infections by a 33: 1 ratio.
The state remained on track to drop most of its public health restrictions on social gatherings and business activities by June 30.
Secretary of State for Social Services Dr David Scrase warned, however, that it would be a risky summer for those who are not vaccinated – which for some is a choice, and others (such as the immunocompromised) not.
Health Secretary Dr Tracie Collins opened a press conference by saying 56% of New Mexicans aged 16 and over were fully vaccinated, meaning two weeks had passed since the end of their vaccine. 65.7% – over 1.1 million people – had received at least one initial dose of a two-shot vaccine.
Of the three vaccines used, one – developed by Johnson & Johnson – requires a single dose, while the others require two.
Collins presented the latest update to the state’s color-coded risk map which, since December, assesses the risk of disease at the county level, announcing Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s decision to move the 33 counties to the least restrictive Turquoise level.
Lujan Grisham set a target in April of removing the system of tiered public health restrictions once the state reaches 60% of eligible residents vaccinated, anticipating the state will meet the target by the end of June. .
Nearly half of the counties did not meet the Turquoise criteria, which are based on average daily cases, test positivity and vaccination rates, but health officials said the move would bring stability as the businesses are recovering from disruption caused by a public health emergency that lasted for nearly 15 months.
“The point is to open up,” Collins said firmly.
Collins also promoted vaccinations, including state vaccines new vaccine draw which will distribute $ 10 million in federal dollars in cash prizes to residents who have CDC-issued vaccine registration cards proving they are vaccinated.
Immunizations are provided free of charge, she reiterated, and no social security number or government ID is required for the service. Additionally, she pointed out that vaccination sites do not collect or share information on immigration status.
Rare breakthrough infections
State epidemiologist Dr Christine Ross has reported that groundbreaking infections, in which a fully vaccinated person then tests positive for COVID-19, are expected (as no vaccine is 100% effective) but “extremely rare”.
Ross presented data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirming 10,262 such cases among 101 million fully vaccinated people in 46 U.S. states or territories as of April 30 – a rate of 0.01%.
In New Mexico, among 937,000 fully vaccinated residents, there were 696 cases of major infections as of June 1, or 0.074%. 67 of those cases resulted in hospitalizations and eight deaths, six of which were attributed to COVID-19 as the main or underlying cause of death.
Ross said the data did not reveal any “surprising patterns” for patient demographics or the relative performance of any of the vaccines, which have so far been shown to be very effective in preventing COVID- disease. 19 or serious illness in case of infection.
“COVID-19 vaccines are very effective,” Ross said, adding, “The science doesn’t stop. We continue to evaluate vaccines, to evaluate their performance.”
Scrase said vaccinations had reached a recent daily average of 4,395 in the state, exceeding new infections by a factor of 33 despite reluctance to be vaccinated.
He confirmed that in the absence of a major outbreak, the color map of New Mexico will remain turquoise: “This is what the map will look like until we get those 60% full immunizations.”
Yet, based on the public health criteria previously used to assess risk, a few counties would return to yellow status.
Scrase said all criteria for reopening the state were green, and declining case rates and increased vaccine use left him confident about relaxing some precautions and resuming the drug. trade.
“I am excited when I see opportunities to further open up the economy,” he said.
Meanwhile, Scrase reported cases among unvaccinated residents “spread even faster among unvaccinated people,” putting them at 15.5% higher risk of infection and risk of hospitalization. 10.3% higher.
Collins and Scrase acknowledged that some long-term care facilities continued to face outbreaks and that visitation and testing policies would be adjusted to target outbreaks.
Regarding prisons, Collins said the state Corrections has done “a phenomenal job” in ensuring that inmates in detention centers are vaccinated, although she said she believed that ‘They did not receive vaccination cards from the CDC that would prove their vaccination. . Inmates are also not eligible for the draw.
Once New Mexico reopens, Collins said public health orders will continue to set guidelines for public masking and safety practices in businesses, taking into account the number of unvaccinated people.
“Even though we have made tremendous progress, we know the pandemic is not over,” Ross said. “Please be careful, New Mexico; and how can we be safe? Get vaccinated.”