New Mexico health officials look ahead to next phase of COVID-19 recovery

Coronavirus New Mexico

NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – With New Mexico gaining ground in its battle with the coronavirus the state’s top doctors and leaders are starting to look ahead to the fall. Health and Human Services Secretary Doctor David Scrase says they’re seeing everything you would want to see right now. He and the medical advisory team are talking about how to safely reopen schools in the fall and plan out mass antibody testing.

“I think that’s more of a summer, fall kind of a thing. It’s actually more helpful to do it after the first wave of the epidemic because less people have symptoms and you’re testing the right people,” said Dr. Scrase.

New Mexico officially reached its peak of cases on May 1. Dr. Scrase says Wednesday even the hardest hit northwest region of the state now has a spread rate of about 1.1% which is lower than the state’s target spread rate. He also says the department of Health is working on a plan to test large groups of people for antibodies in different quadrants of the state to get a better picture of how the virus has spread but that won’t happen right away.

Right now, the state is working with a handful of FDA approved labs that are mainly just reporting the positive antibody test results. Though, Dr. Scrase tells they’re writing up a public health order that would require labs to send the state both positive and negative antibody test results.

“It would be unusual. For most infectious disease tests, we don’t require the negative results to be reported. Only the positive tests. But in a situation like this, where we’re in it for such a long hall, everybody agrees having those results would help,” said Dr. Scrase.

Dr. Scrase warns it’s still not clear if a person with COVID antibodies will be immune to the virus and if so, for how long? In regards to reopening schools, no plan has been laid out. However, our neighboring states have announced plans that include taking student’s and staff’s temperatures daily and a mix of in-person and online classes. The medical advisory team meets weekly.

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