ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Teams of researchers at the University of New Mexico are working to learn more about COVID-19. They’re researching everything from how to treat the virus, to what the virus looks like specifically in New Mexico.

“People are working night and day and working diligently. So, things are moving at a really fast pace,” said Dr. Douglas Perkins, with the Center for Global Health at UNM Health Sciences Center.

Perkins is set to get samples taken from COVID-19 test kits from the New Mexico Department of Health and Tri-Core.

“Those models are useful for determining community spread, whether there have been changes in the virus, and what the virus actually looks like within a particular community and how it changes over time,” said Perkins.

Perkins’ team is also in the planning stages of another kind of testing, to protect health care workers from the virus.

“The ability to reuse potentially the personal protective equipment (PPE) in the event a shortage occurs,” said Perkins.

PPE’s, like masks and respirator masks, are in high demand right now. However, Perkins says it’s still unclear how to reuse them safely.

“I think who knows right now but there are some methods out there that are available,” said Perkins.

A vaccine is likely still a ways off. So, other labs part of UNM are researching existing drugs that could help treat people in the meantime.

“Everyone is extended trying to put this fire out with as large a fire hose as they can possibly find,” said Perkins.

Perkins’ lab is set to get their samples any day. Other laboratories already have samples they are working on.