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State health officials promote Omicron boosters during COVID briefing

Jered Ebenreck/CDC
CDC COVID Data Tracker
CDC Community Transmission Map, used by health care workers, like Acting Secretary Dr. David Scrase at New Mexico Department of Health, to advise at-risk patients (Left), is the CDC metric of risk, determined by transmission and test positivity rates. It was used by NMDOH and CDC to advise localities before February 25, 2022. The COVID Community Levels Map (Right) is the current metric that combines transmission with hospitalization data like COVID19 admissions and ICU use. Current CDC/NMDOH guidance to the general public is determined by the metric on the right. Both metrics are still available via the CDC COVID-19 Data Tracker--these are for New Mexico from October 6, 2022, reflecting reported data from 9/28-10/6/22. These maps are reflective of the previous week, not projections

State health officials Thursday rolled out a new website for the COVID omicron booster shot and gave an update on other public health risks in the state. The new website, ItsTimeNM.org, lets people schedule a shot and explains why the bivalent omicron booster is different from previous versions of the vaccine.

There are no counties here with high community levels of COVID19 according to the latest CDC data. However transmission levels remain high in 14 counties, including all of northwestern New Mexico. Mirroring its weekly reporting of COVID Levels, the CDC also announced Thursday a move from daily to weekly COVID case and death data starting October 20.

Acting Health Secretary David Scrase said Omicron variants are prevalent across the state. "All the cases we're seeing, that we're sequencing are Omicron," said Scrase.

According to the Department of Health over 95% of those eligible under 65 have not had the Omicron jab. Scrase suggests that vaccination uptake is linked to personal experiences of the virus. "When someone has a case of COVID in their family, or someone gets into the hospital, kind of spurs that family to rethink or to get vaccinated," Scrase said.

COVID19 has killed more than 20 New Mexicans since the first of the month. Nearly 400 people a day currently die from COVID19 nationally.

During the update, Acting State Epidemiologist Laura Parajón emphasized another risk–rising cases of congenital syphilis for newborns in New Mexico. "Syphilis in babies can cause death or disease  and it's very preventable. … we're asking providers to test in that first trimester visit and the third trimester visit for pregnancy," she said. She appealed to new parents to consult providers.

Citing 46 cases of monkeypox (CDC indicates 43) in the state, Parajón said there are plenty of vaccines for those at risk. She explained, "the most common risk factor is really having a new male sexual partner in the last month, or having multiple partners in the last year."  NMDOH Monkeypox guidance available on their website, or call the NMDOH Epidemiology and Response Division (ERD) 24/7 call line at 505-827-0006 for questions about:

  1. Who to test
  2. How to test
  3. Where to send specimens
  4. Management of suspected or confirmed cases
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