Over the weekend, Socorro County hit the 1,000 total coronavirus cases mark and has since gone up to 1,011 with three cases on Tuesday. While the number of cases has been less than 10 per day the past week, the virus is still prevalent.
To help combat the virus, the New Mexico Department of Health has started rolling out the vaccine. As of Monday, Dr. Tracie Collins, Secretary-Designate of the New Mexico Department of Health, said that 78,143 vaccines have been administered and 170,300 have been delivered to New Mexico. This is based on 81.2 percent of providers reporting.
Collins said that according to the CDC, New Mexico has one of the highest COVID-19 vaccine administration rates in the United States.
“We want to vaccinate as many as we can and right now, we are dependent on what the supply is — it’s not what the demand is,” Collins said. “As we have more supply, we will push out more vaccines.”
Guadalupe Flores was the first frontline essential worker to receive the vaccine in Socorro County and since then workers at Socorro General Hospital have been vaccinated. On. Jan. 7, the NMDOH traveled to Socorro to help Socorro EMT’s distribute COVID-19 vaccines to 55 frontline essential workers which included police officers and firefighters in phase 1A.
Phase 1A included hospital personal, first responders, residents and staff of long-term care facilities, congregate setting workers, individuals providing medical care and other in-person services, home-based health care workers and hospice workers.
New Mexico has since moved from phase 1A to 1B which includes individuals 75-years-old and older, individuals over 16 who have underlying medical conditions, frontline essential workers who cannot work remotely and vulnerable populations which includes those in congregate settings. Individuals in phase 1A who were not vaccinated can still get vaccinated as New Mexico moves into 1B.
According to Collins, essential workers in phase 1B can get vaccinated after those with underlying conditions because the majority of them will be eligible when vaccines are available to individuals with underlying conditions.
“We did refer to the CDC guidelines as a guide for us,” Collins said. “We also considered the fact that in New Mexico, a large portion of our population has one or more chronic conditions. It was recommended and we decided as a group that it’s best to move them to group 1B rather than group 1C.”
In phase 1B, congregate settings include those in prison.
“I’m not prioritizing criminals over those who are 60 and older,” Collins said. “What I’m looking at is from a public health glance that infectivity and rates of spread in these prisons can be very detrimental. We have an increased risk of cases and we have an increased risk of death among those who are in congregate settings.”
Individuals who are not yet eligible for the vaccine can do their part by preregistering at cvvaccine.nmhealth.org.
By preregistering, an individual will get a call, text or email notification when it is their turn to get vaccinated. Collins said that as of Monday, more than 400,000 New Mexicans have pre-registered. Any individuals who have concerns or questions can call the COVID-19 hotline at 1-855-600-3453.
According to Collins, the hotline has been backed up due to the amount of calls they are receiving. On Friday, callers were unable to get through.
Collins said that over the weekend the DOH added more call center workers to help manage the amount of calls being received and will be adding more workers throughout the week.
New Mexicans are also eligible to order a COVID-19 take-home test from Vault. Collins said more than 10,000 tests have been ordered by New Mexicans but that some are holding onto them due to the long shelf-life.