New Mexico reporting fewer COVID-19 deaths as vaccine rollout continues


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Nearly 100,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are going out across New Mexico this week, all while the state is announcing fewer deaths from the virus every day. On Monday, the state announced just one new COVID-19 death, bringing New Mexico’s total number of deaths from the virus to 3,583 people.

The last day just a single death was reported in New Mexico was about five months ago on June 22, 2020. KRQE News 13 asked the New Mexico Department of Health Monday how state officials are feeling about the reduced number of daily deaths as vaccination efforts continue across the state.

“I will say generally speaking, yes, folks have been very encouraged (by the trends),” said Matt Bieber, Communications Director for the Department of Health. “When we’re on those morning calls, when we’re reviewing the numbers, the epidemiology folks, the doctors, they’re encouraged, and I take heart from that, but there’s still a lot to watch out for, there’s so variant, we seem to have been plateauing a little higher than we’d been hoping there’s just a lot of variables, a lot that isn’t quite known about this virus.”

New Mexico is getting more than 95,000 doses of Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine this week. The shipment represents another roughly 7% increase over the doses received last week.

Meanwhile, state figures now indicate nearly 29% of the nearly 1.7 million New Mexicans who are eligible for a vaccine have now gotten a first dose. The state believes vaccines are now responsible for about a 60% reduction in the number of new COVID-19 cases reported each day.

Online, KRQE News 13 has been tracking various figures related to the coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic, including a chart of deaths reported by day. According to data provided by the state of New Mexico, it was October 19, 2020, when the state last announced just a single death on a day.

State data shows it was June 22, 2020, the last time that not a single New Mexico COVID death was reported on a day. Despite the fewer daily deaths being reported, Bieber suggests it’s “too soon” to feel comfortable that the low number of deaths is a “new normal.”

“I don’t know if we’re at that new normal, I don’t think we’re at the stage where this is just the flu yet, hopefully, we get there,” Bieber said. “And I think if we do get there, and I suspect we will, it will be a little longer, it will be after a much higher portion of the population has been vaccinated.”

Bieber says the next milestone DOH is looking at is that of lasting immunity for those who’ve had COVID-19 and combining that statistically with those who’ve been vaccinated. Because there are questions about how long immunity lasts for those who’ve been infected with the virus, the state is only saying right now it believes that a “meaningful portion” of the state total has immunity today.

The newest vaccine from Johnson and Johnson (J&J) is expected to come in with more regular doses by the end of the month. The state is trying to get that vaccine to more rural communities. This week, New Mexico received about 2,400 J&J doses.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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