COVID-19 continued to impact New Mexico’s urban and rural counties in different ways according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
COVID-19 cases were high in Bernalillo County along with Otero and Lincoln counties, two counties with smaller populations, based on data compiled from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Dona Ana and Santa Fe counties are second and third in population and COVID-19 cases were placed in the “medium” level as of Aug. 4, per CDC Community Level numbers.
CDC determined three metrics for Community Levels including new COVID-19 admissions per 100,000 people in the past seven days, the percent of staffed hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients and total new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in a seven-day period.
Bernalillo County had nearly 250 new COVID-19 admissions per 100,000, and 11 cases per 100,000 people in a seven-day period with 5.3 percent of beds used by COVID-19 patients, according to the CDC.
New COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in Lincoln County was 378 along with 10.3 of new COVID-19 admissions and 8 percent of hospital beds were occupied by COVID-19 patients.
Otero County’s new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people and percentage of hospital beds used mirrored Lincoln County’s.
Otero County had 203 new COVID-19 admissions of per 100,000 people in a seven-day period, per CDC data.
Community Level Data varied in Eddy, Chaves, Lea, Santa Fe and Dona Ana counties, according to CDC.
“We’ve remained relatively stable over a few months. Now we’re starting to see an increase in numbers again,” said Dr. Vesta Sandoval, chief medical of Lovelace Health System in Roswell and Albuquerque.
She said COVID-19 hospitalizations at Lovelace Regional Hospital in Roswell were “pretty stable” as of Aug. 4.
Hospitalizations at Lovelace hospitals in the Albuquerque area saw a slight increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations.
“We’ve been running in the high teens or low 20s. We did dip down for a period of time,” she said.
“This is very concerning because we are still experience some deaths from COVID (19) and if you look at the national picture. They are experiencing a fair amount of deaths on a daily basis,” Sandoval said.
Nearly 400 deaths in the United States were reported in the CDC’s 7-day moving average of COVID-19 deaths as of Aug. 3.
Carlsbad Medical Center Spokesperson Melissa Suggs said the hospital had very few COVID-19 patients for the past three months with only one patient hospitalized as of Friday.
“While we have seen a slight increase in the number of tests administered and positive test results reported by our laboratory over the last month, most patients have reported very mild symptoms,” she said.
Sandoval expressed concern that COVID-19 rates could rise in the fall as people and activities move from outdoors to indoors.
“We are going to see hospitalizations increase because further people are further out from their vaccinations and further out from their previous immunity (levels). That’s the worry everybody has,” she said.
Suggs said vaccinations remained the best strategy against reducing the spread of COVID-19.
“We also still encourage area residents to get the COVID-19 vaccination or booster as soon as you can, especially now as our children are returning back to school,” she said.
The New Mexico Department of Health (DOH) announced another COVID-19 vaccination was available.
“Novavax is a protein-based vaccine that uses pieces of the spike protein on the coronavirus to build antibodies that can prevent COVID-19 from infecting cells causing illness, per a DOH COVID-19 press conference on Aug. 4.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency use approval of Novavax in July. The vaccine will be available for people 18 and older and consisted of two doses, given three to four weeks apart, according to DOH information.
Sandoval said Novavax should cover some of the new COVID-19 variants.