Los Alamos National Lab report projects post-Thanksgiving COVID-19 data

Coronavirus New Mexico

NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – New Mexicans are officially out of the “two-week reset” issued by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham last month. Now the state is heading into another holiday season under some tight restrictions. So, did the reset work?

People may be wondering how Thanksgiving may have played a role in the spread of COVID-19, but we may not see that full picture for a few more weeks. “New Mexico has crushed this virus before, twice,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham, during a November 13 news conference. “And we’re gonna do it again.”

New Mexico went into a two-week shutdown on November 16, with an order to shelter-in-place over the Thanksgiving holiday. So when will New Mexicans see the results of those efforts in the COVID-19 data? “Typically it’s four to five weeks, so it really literally would be Christmas Day,” explained Dr. David Scrase, Secretary for the Human Services Department. “Between Christmas and New Years, and if you’re going to see that peak, it’s gonna go up.”

The Los Alamos National Lab modeling team issued its December forecasting report, projecting daily number of cases to range between 1,768 and 3,899 in the next two weeks. According to the Department of Health, the state’s latest seven-day rolling average for daily cases sits around 1,494, down about 350 cases from the week before. However, that data is all pre-Thanksgiving. The LANL forecast report shows best and worst-case scenarios for death counts could range between 20 people per day, to more than 50 daily deaths, by New Years.


View Los Alamos National Laboratory Modeling Results. Story continues below


On Thursday, New Mexico saw its highest daily death count at 40 people. LANL notes in preliminary estimates of the effects of Thanksgiving, that a “bounce is possible, but possibly not large in New Mexico.”

“If you are one of those people who did mix families over Thanksgiving, or were involved in some travel out of state, or had family members traveling out of state to you,” said Dr. Scrase, “Please, please recognize your ability to have acquired and spread coronavirus, even if you don’t have symptoms.”

The modeling team at LANL notes in its report that when case rates go up, people’s protective behaviors tend to improve, resulting in some transmission drop. It took New Mexico more than three months to get from its first confirmed COVID-19 case to 10,000 cases. It only took one week for the state to go from 90,000 total cases to more than 100,000 COVID-19 cases, the number the state reached on December 2.

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