NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The state doctor at the forefront of guiding New Mexico during the coronavirus pandemic, provided an update Friday on the virus. He covered a lot of ground, from hospitalization totals, to why the state is seeing more cases without symptoms.
Human Services Secretary, Dr. David Scrase covered a lot of data during a nearly 2-hour-long webinar. He addressed a range of questions, including how many out-of-state residents are being treated in New Mexico hospitals.
“If we have Texans and Arizonans in our hospitals, we don’t count them in the case counts, we just send those over to Arizona and Texas, and they follow those people, but we do include them in the hospitalization counts,” Dr. Scrase explained.
Dr. Scrase said the state keeps close track of how many hospital beds are available in New Mexico to make sure we have adequate capacity. Although the state could not say how many out-of-state coronavirus patients are in New Mexico’s hospital beds, he said they’re not seeing any surge of transfers from out-of-state.
There has been a slight uptick in the number of occupied ICU beds. The good news is fewer patients are on ventilators, Dr. Scrase said.
According to the state’s data, at one point roughly 40% of those hospitalized were intubated, and now it’s about 20%. That could be because the recent rise in cases is in people in their 20s and 30s.
There’s also a rise in confirmed asymptomatic cases in New Mexico, which Dr. Scrase believes is a good sign. “We’re doing a good job of contact tracing, and so if we contact people and say ‘hey you were exposed to a COVID-positive individual,’ before they have symptoms, isolate them, and get them a test, we should see an increase in the number of asymptomatic people,” said Dr. Scrase. “That’s really a success.”
“I think it could also represent the fact that people are now more informed about COVID, and they’re getting more information,” said Dr. Scrase. “And they’re realizing, ‘hey maybe I ought to get tested.'”
Dr. Scrase said New Mexico is more than hitting its mark on daily testing numbers statewide. He added the state is working to address some of the long testing lines, such as Balloon Fiesta Park.
“Is there a way to have a more common registration system, and you know, way of doing this where people aren’t waiting in their cars all night,” said Dr. Scrase.
Data shows the death rate is decreasing in New Mexico, but the doctor said that can change in the coming weeks with the recent rise in cases.