Hospitalizations, death rate climbing at slower rate than new COVID-19 cases

Coronavirus New Mexico

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexico has topped more than 21,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases. Meanwhile, the state hasn’t seen the same dramatic surge in COVID-related hospitalizations and deaths as compared to the total case count.

As of Monday, New Mexico had 21,130 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 according to statistics provided by the New Mexico Department of Health. Of those cases, 655 people have died of COVID-19, according to state data.

Between June and late July, the state’s seven-day rolling average of new COVID-19 cases nearly tripled from around 100 new cases per day in early June to more than 300 new cases per day in late July. Showing a graph charting total COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations in New Mexico last week, New Mexico Human Services Department Secretary Dr. David Scrase explained why cases have surged but hospitalizations and deaths haven’t, so far.

“Why are we seeing something different, we believe actually it’s a demographic change we’ve presented,” Dr. Scrase said. “More younger people are getting COVID infections, a lot more than the 20 to 30 age groups, and actually quite a few more in the 10 to 19 age group.”

Scrase said in a news conference last week that evidence is starting to show that younger age groups “have less hospitalizations and less serious complications.” However, that doesn’t mean those age groups can’t pass the virus to someone else.

The state projects that far more people could have COVID-19 but either don’t know it because they’re asymptomatic or never got tested. Dr. Scrase said last week the state believes there are an additional 4.6 unconfirmed COVID-19 cases for every one confirmed positive case.

“Our data and the formula we use suggests a ratio of about one positive COVID case to 4.6 other people in New Mexico who have immunity,” Scrase said. “The CDC came out last week with an estimate of something like maybe 5 to 6 to 20 percent of people are immune.”

By the figure provided by the state. estimating an additional 4.6 unconfirmed COVID cases for every one positive COVID case, an estimated 118,328 people in New Mexico may have been infected with COVID-19 since the pandemic arrived. 118,328 people represent roughly 5% of the state’s population of more than two million people.

That figure is still far from what Dr. Scrase says it would take to see so-called herd immunity in the state. “It takes 70 percent of people being immune to really have herd immunity,” Scrase said.

Dr. Scrase also said in the most recent governor news conference that coronavirus is now thought to have around a 1.3% death rate worldwide. In New Mexico, about 3% of all people with confirmed cases have died.

Factoring in the number of estimated unconfirmed cases (118,328) against the known COVID deaths (655,) that death rate figure drops down to around half of one percent.

A recent chart published by the New Mexico Department of Health indicated that New Mexico peaked with its number of COVID tests in late April, early May with 67 and 66 deaths per week. In July, the weekly number of deaths was down to between 22 and 26 deaths per week. The slide stated, “COVID-19 deaths have been decreasing since May, by may beginning to increase.”

New Mexico Coronavirus Resource Guide

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