San Miguel County continues to be ravaged by the Omicron variant of COVID-19, entering the final week of January, tallying more than 700 cases of the virus in the past week alone.
Since Jan. 19, the New Mexico Department of Health has reported 771 cases of the virus in San Miguel County, by far the highest total in a single week since the pandemic began in March 2020.
Though some states are beginning to see the latest peak in the virus subside, that has not been the case in New Mexico, where the state has counted at least 5,000 new virus cases for five consecutive reporting days.
Deaths related to COVID-19 also remain a massive concern, as the state has reported 147 deaths in the last week. Several hospitals across the state are at or nearing capacity due to the recent surge.
Four of the recent deaths were San Miguel County residents, a man in his 60’s, a man in his 70’s, a woman in her 70’s and a woman in her 80’s, according to the Department of Health. All of those individuals were hospitalized.
The state announced late last week that more than 90 percent of adults in New Mexico have received at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 77 percent of the state has now completed the initial vaccine series, not including the booster shot.
“This is an incredible milestone for our state, and I want to thank every New Mexican who has helped to make this possible,” said DOH Deputy Secretary Dr. Laura Parajon.
San Miguel County is slightly behind the curve in that regard, as only 79 percent of adults in the county have received at least their first shot, and 71 percent have both of their initial doses. Mora County currently has 77 percent of its residents with at least one shot, and 69 percent have completed the initial series.
There are now multiple programs in place to help New Mexicans receive at-home COVID-19 rapid tests that are key to help prevent the spread of the virus, though they come with some restrictions that could impact larger families.
A federal program, at COVIDtests.gov, launched last week, allowing each residential home to order four free test kits. As he faced criticism due to lack of available tests, President Joe Biden announced last month that the U.S. would purchase 500 million at-home tests to launch the program and then later announced that he was doubling the order to 1 billion tests. The program has faced some criticism from families who say four tests will not be enough to cover everyone in a household.
The White House announced “tests will typically ship within 7-12 days of ordering” through the Postal Service, which reports typical shipping times of 1-3 days.
Meanwhile, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and NMDOH are securing over 1 million ihealth at-home rapid antigen tests for the state, to be initially distributed in areas of higher social vulnerability. So far, over 400,000 tests have been secured, with the remaining tests expected to arrive soon.
These home test kits will be distributed to emergency managers across 26 counties to the 79 zip codes with the highest social vulnerability index.
The CDC recommends at-home testing when experiencing COVID-19 systems including fever, cough, sore throat, respiratory symptoms and muscle aches, five days after a potential COVID-19 exposure, or as part of test-to-stay protocols in schools and workplaces.