New data puts 11 counties at high COVID-19 levels as CDC revises COVID guidance ahead of new school year
Nationally, almost 500 people are dying daily of COVID19 on average. In New Mexico, it’s five per day. That’s less than two weeks ago and hospitalizations have declined. But the number of counties at the highest levels of the virus rose to 11 this week according to the latest data from the CDC, including Bernalillo. The CDC and state health officials recommend wearing N95 masks indoors, in public settings in such counties, but there are no mandates in place.
In July, Acting Health Secretary, Dr. David Scrase, told KUNM, in the 3rd year of the pandemic, DOH lacks staff and remaining staff are stressed, especially in epidemiology. For example, Scrase estimates, based on a CDC study on public health worker stress, that suicidal ideation may impact almost 250 people out of about 3,000 employees at DOH.
"Absent other adjustments, we would be hard pressed right now to respond to all the public health needs," he said.
Monkeypox and long COVID add to that strain. There are now over 10,000 cases of monkeypox nationally with 16 cases in New Mexico. DOH states if you are concerned about the risk of monkeypox, call their screening center at 855-600-3453. About 1 in 5, or 20% of COVID survivors aged 18-64, experience a long COVID condition.
Mia Ives-Rublee from the Disability Justice Initiative at the Center for American Progress pointed out that reducing COVID transmission reduces long COVID, a new disability.
"The let ‘er rip model that we've been going by, is not helpful to anybody," she said.
But on Thursday, the CDC relaxed its recommendations on testing, isolation, quarantine, and social distancing, especially for schools, while emphasizing extra steps high-risk individuals should follow. One out of three New Mexicans are at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19 according to DOH.
New Mexico now has the 5th highest COVID mortality rate in the country and over 83 hundred have died in the state. McKinley County is the 10th highest mortality rate of all counties in the U.S. at 859 deaths per 100,000 people. Ten counties now have “green” or low levels–12 counties are yellow or medium levels.