SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Secretary-Designate of the New Mexico Department of Health Dr. Tracie Collins hosted a remote news conference Wednesday to provide an update on the state’s COVID-19 vaccination distribution effort.
Many frontline hospital workers are taking their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine this week. Christus St. Vincent was the first hospital in New Mexico to receive the vaccine back on December 14. The chief operating officer of Christus St. Vincent explains that they gave the second dose of 121 frontline workers at the hospital on Monday and another 900 will receive it by the end of the week.
New Mexico has been among the leading states in terms of distributing vaccinations so far, and officials say getting more people registered will help with future phases. But Dr. Collins said Wednesday that more work is being done to ensure that providers can quickly and accurately report the number of doses that are being administered.
Collins during an online briefing pointed to the state’s registration website, saying it has helped to streamline the process of getting people scheduled for their shots. The first phase has included frontline health care workers, first responders, and staff and residents at long-term care facilities.
The state this week will release its plans for how other groups of people will be prioritized when more doses become available, and the registration website will be used to notify people when it’s their turn, Collins said.
“We really want to get this right the first time,” she said. “We don’t want to put something out and then recognize we didn’t make the most thoughtful decision and so I’m working closely with the governor’s office to make sure that we have everything aligned as we think about what’s best for the community and keeping us safe and how we can do this efficiently and effectively given the limited supply.”
More than 106,500 doses have been delivered to New Mexico so far. While not all providers are reporting yet, the state estimates that roughly 60% of those doses have been administered.
Collins said the state is working with providers to address barriers to reporting so the data is more accurate. Eventually, she said, the state plans to post a public dashboard online that would show how many vaccines have been delivered and how many have been administered.
Nearly 300,000 people in New Mexico have registered to be vaccinated.
The state has recorded nearly 150,000 confirmed COVID-19 infections since the pandemic began, with an additional 1,496 cases reported Wednesday. Officials also have linked 2,641 deaths to the virus, with the latest high of 47 being reported Wednesday.
Dr. Collins said the Health Department is watching the numbers closely. If there’s a bump related to gatherings over the holidays, she said it would be showing up soon.
Meanwhile, the state continues to crack down on businesses for violating the public health order. Officials announced Tuesday that O’Reilly Automotive Stores Inc. has agreed to pay $79,200 in penalties after one of its auto parts stores in Santa Fe received two citations following multiple citizen complaints over the summer about mask-wearing and a lack of signage.
It’s believed to be the largest penalty related to coronavirus public health violations issued by the state Environment Department so far, the Albuquerque Journal reported.
The Environment Department said it’s currently investigating more than 200 workplace safety complaints related to COVID-19 and more than a dozen workplace-related COVID-19 deaths.
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