NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – COVID-19 cases continue to climb across New Mexico and health officials are urging people to take precautions over the holidays. The delta variant is still the dominant strain in New Mexico but the new, contagious omicron variant is the reason health officials say to take precautions.

During Wednesday’s COVID-19 update, Dr. Christine Ross, the Department of Health’s State Epidemiologist, and Dr. Laura Parajon, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health, urged people to take precautions during the holidays. “We have not seen this before where the growth advantage of this variant is quite striking,” said Dr. Ross.

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Data shows high transmission in all New Mexico counties. The Department of Health is encouraging everyone to mask up and get vaccinated and boosted before gathering for the holidays. About 82% of COVID hospitalizations and 84% of COVID-related deaths are among unvaccinated.

They’re also encouraging everyone to take at-home tests before gathering with people outside their household. The state says it has 20,000 home tests it’s giving out for free in hard-to-access, low-income, and high case count areas.

“If we can make tests more available and give access to people who don’t normally have access. Let’s say you work all day, this will help that person so as a community, we can test ourselves and bring more responsibility to ourselves,” said Dr. Parajon.

With a Pfizer pill treating COVID-19 being approved by the FDA, the state says it is working on the distribution of that. They say the state will initially get “very few” doses and will try to distribute it in more rural areas and areas where monoclonal antibody treatments are less available. There’s no word yet on when New Mexico may get its first doses of the Pfizer pill.

NMDOH is especially encouraging older New Mexicans to get vaccinated, saying 94% of the state’s deaths are in people over 65. It says fully-vaccinated, older adults reduce their risk of hospitalization by 94% and COVID-related deaths by 91%.

On Wednesday, NMDOH reported 914 new COVID-19 cases and 39 additional COVID-related deaths. That brings the statewide totals to 341,509 total cases and 5,701 total deaths.