Green in a sea of red: New Mexico watching COVID-19 spike in neighboring states

Coronavirus New Mexico

NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The state’s lead doctor who’s helping guide New Mexico through the pandemic, once again gave a status update on where the state stands with COVID-19, and where we could be headed. Doctor David Scrase, Secretary for the Human Services Department went through a lot of data on Friday, and addressed concerns about spikes in our neighboring states.

“We’re green in a sea of red, that’s a big concern,” said Dr. Scrase. “It’s a big concern and the more cases we have in Texas or the more we have in Arizona, that’s a problem for New Mexicans.”

He’s referring to the COVID Exit Strategy U.S. map, which shows a spike in cases in neighboring states after those states relaxed stay-at-home restrictions. Specifically, data shows coronavirus hospitalizations hit a record high for a full week in Texas.

And as more people start to travel again, Dr. Scrase said there’s already been confirmed COVID-19 cases from New Mexicans who’ve recently attended graduation parties and baseball games in Texas and Arizona. “It’s absolutely essential that we be aware of the risks,” he said.

When people see curves going down, Dr. Scrase explained it isn’t because of the virus changing or improving, but rather overall behavior of people taking measures like widespread mask-wearing and social distancing. “It’s a real issue, people I think really believe the virus got really bad and now the virus is really better, rather than understanding that we got really good at cordoning off the virus and we have to stay really good,” Dr. Scrase said.

He also pointed to the science behind why that’s important, saying 24% of positive COVID cases in New Mexico are from people who’ve had no symptoms.

“To each take on an individual responsibility for protecting other people, in the event that we’re one of those 24% of people in New Mexico who have COVID without any symptoms because that’s a really big number when you’re talking about a pandemic.

Dr. Scrase said the state is also working closely with Los Alamos National Labs to track mobility as it relates to virus spread rate. LANL modeling shows a close correlation between travel and rate of spread.

One of the most frequently asked questions Dr. Scrase said the state receives relates to the reporting of recovered cases. He said the biggest lag in that reporting can be if someone feels better at home and fails to respond or check back in right away with their contact tracer.

The state is still hiring more contact tracers each week. The current health order runs through the end of the month.


New Mexico Coronavirus Resources

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