State officials working to protect the most vulnerable New Mexicans from the coronavirus

Coronavirus New Mexico

NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The coronavirus is especially dangerous for the elderly and people with serious health issues.

Assisted living facilities across the state are handing out information packets to their residents and their families explaining the measures they’re taking to keep everyone healthy. Those people getting care in nursing homes and long term care facilities are the most at risk.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says they already have personnel visiting the 269 facilities across the state, who are checking on residents who might have tested negative for flu but are experiencing symptoms.

People ages 65 and older make up nearly 18% of the state’s population, about 370,000 New Mexicans. Early-stage information from China shows people 60 and up are most at risk of the virus becoming deadly.

The mortality rate there is almost 15% for people over 80 who’ve contracted the virus. The state’s Department of Aging and Long Term Services says they’ve spent the last month prepping long term care facilities across the state.

“We are purchasing more equipment in case long term care facilities start to slow down who can come into their facilities. We want to make sure that family members and loved ones have access to things like granny cams which are cameras where you can monitor and make sure that people are getting the kind of care that they need,” says Katrina Hotrunm-Lopez, Cabinet Secretary for Aging and Long Term Services.

Locals say now that there are cases in New Mexico, they are rethinking their travel plans to visit elderly relatives.

“It’s a big deal for us to get sick, we’re worried that the plane or the airport and then bring it to him. He’s planning on staying inside as much as possible so we didn’t want to possibly bring it into his how,” says Sean Ottmer.

Many of the long term facilities are limiting visitation and asking potential visitors key questions regarding their travel history.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it is sending $6.5 million to New Mexico to help fight the spread of coronavirus.

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