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New Mexico Department of Health scaling back on COVID-19 case reports as testing declines

Natalie Kolb/Commonwealth Media Services: Nat
Commonwealth Media Services

The New Mexico Department of Health earlier this month announced changes to how and when people can access information about COVID transmission in the state. Several programs will be completely discontinued and reporting of cases will be scaled back.

The department has reduced biweekly reporting of cases to monthly reporting. It has also discontinued a COVID dashboard that showed an outlook on transmission across the state. An exposure notification app, NM Notify, will also be shut down next month.

Some public health workers say this will make their work more difficult.

Marquel Musgrave, a COVID technical assistant specialist for the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, said she is concerned that the loss of consistent data will make supporting tribes in New Mexico harder, because this data determines when to increase or decrease prevention methods, like masking.

"We’re just seeing this increase in chronic illness, without the supports, and lack of awareness increasing rates of transmission. And what that means not just for deaths, but for increasing rates of disability," said Musgrave.

Musgrave said she hopes the state will reconsider this move, especially as cases of Long Covid are high and more people are trying to access disability services. Musgrave also pointed out her concern that many people are also losing Medicaid coverage as expanded pandemic coverage ends.

In a press release, Deputy Secretary Laura Parajon said these changes reflect a decrease in tests being taken and the day-to-day numbers aren’t as meaningful as they once were. The Department also reported that national resources that supported NM Notify are no longer available.

This coverage is made possible by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and KUNM listeners.

Taylor is a reporter with our Poverty and Public Health project. She is a lover of books and a proud dog mom. She's been published in Albuquerque The Magazine several times and enjoys writing about politics and travel.