The way the New Mexico Department of Health will report COVID-19 data and metrics will look a different starting Monday.

Dr. David Scrase, acting secretary with NMDOH, said during Friday’s media conference that the department will simplify and automate daily COVID reporting by reducing the daily data to the following:

  • Daily cumulative cases,
  • Daily cumulative hospitalizations,
  • Daily number of hospitalized patients intubated,
  • Daily deaths and
  • Daily test results reported.

Additionally, the daily data updates will be posted online at cv.nmhealth.org/epidemiology-reports/ by 2 p.m. Monday through Friday except for holidays, and they’ll no longer be sent as press releases. Test positivity rates won’t be included in the daily data, because Scrase said daily data isn’t as accurate as weekly data for those rates. He said one can calculate those numbers by taking new cases and dividing them by tests.

Weekly reports will be continue to be updated at the end of the day on Tuesdays.

Scrase said he anticipates the state will soon transition to more home testing, but still recommends PCR testing for those who are symptomatic. NMDOH and providers in rural areas will still do PCR testing, he said.

He said self-reported at-home test results won’t be reported as part of the official case counts, per U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. He asked state epidemiologists to work on a “relatively automated way” to report those tests separately.

People who don’t have internet access can call 1-855-600-3453 to report their at-home test result.

“I’m hoping to have a little box, at least in a weekly report, that shows how many people self-reported home tests,” he said.

 

Case surge plans

If cases spike again, Scrase said the first part of the plan will include NMDOH revising its contract with vendors and setting up PCR test delivery systems for pharmacies. Additional details will be laid out over the next couple months, he said.

 

7-day COVID data still showing downward trend

The latest seven-day case rate statewide is 2,247, which is less than half the rate seen on Feb. 21 (4,656). The latest seven-day hospitalization rate is 107, down 65 hospitalizations from Feb. 21.

However, the latest 14-day death rate is 115, up from a two-week death rate of 75 on Feb. 21.

Overall, Scrase said the latest numbers dropped to a level not seen since right before the Delta variant entered the picture. He also said it’s said hard to compare 14-day death rate data when cases are dropping because of a six-week backlog of reported COVID-19 deaths.

“COVID still remains a serious disease,” he said.

 

Hospital capacity outlook still improving

Crisis Standards of Care for hospitals are set to expire at midnight tonight.

Friday afternoon, Scrase said 18 intensive care unit beds, plus 99 non-ICU beds, were available statewide. He also said more beds are starting to be filled with non-COVID patients who may have delayed getting medical care.

 

State observes 2-year anniversary of pandemic

NMDOH honored each of the 7,000-plus people who died of COVID-19 in New Mexico with 70 seconds of silence.

The state reported its first four cases of COVID-19 on March 11, 2020. The state saw its first COVID-19 death on March 25, 2020.

Then came the critical milestones:

  • The state administered its first COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 14, 2020.
  • 70 percent of New Mexico adults received their first COVID vaccine dose as of June 29, 2021.
  • COVID vaccine boosters made available for all New Mexicans on Sept. 29, 2021.
  • Free at-home COVID tests arrived in New Mexico in December 2021.
  • At-home oral COVID treatment options arrived in New Mexico this January.
  • Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham lifts the state’s indoor mask mandate for most public settings on Feb. 17, 2022.
  • NMDOH provides a COVID toolkit for immunocompromised people on Feb. 21, 2022.