New Mexico sees increase in milder COVID-19 infections | Health, Medicine and Fitness

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (AP) — Coronavirus cases are on the rise again in New Mexico, but top state health officials said Wednesday that a return to mask mandates or other restrictions on widespread public health is unlikely as infections become milder.

Health and Human Services Secretary Dr David Scrase said in his first pandemic briefing in months that the situation is very different now than it was over the winter. He noted that more tools and treatments are available, and infections lead to far fewer hospitalizations and deaths.

“It’s not about infections. These are serious illnesses, hospitalizations, deaths. That’s what we have to pay attention to,” he said of the accent. “…Our deaths are only a fraction, our hospitalizations are only a fraction and that’s really the sticking point of this state.”

The pandemic wreaked havoc in New Mexico early on due to the state’s historic lack of resources, including nurses, and its low ranking among states for hospital bed capacity.

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Health officials and some elected officials have promoted mandates in hopes of limiting infections and preventing overloading a system already operating at full capacity.

Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 infection are currently low and only a small percentage of patients require ventilators, which state officials say signifies a shift to milder illness due to coronavirus infections.

State epidemiologist Dr. Christine Ross, who will be stepping down in the coming weeks, said it’s been a long and difficult time for public health, but she’s happy to report what she called a welcome difference from the severity of previous infections.

“What we’re seeing with this wave is very different from what we’ve seen in the past,” she said, pointing to multiple factors ranging from the properties of the latest variant to what she called a wall of protection created. through vaccination and immunity resulting from infections and, in some cases, reinfections.

Health officials have acknowledged the difficulty of analyzing the data now, as many positive infection tests taken at home go unreported.

While state data showed those vaccinated and boosted accounted for nearly two-thirds of reported COVID-19 cases over the past four weeks, Scrase said the numbers shouldn’t be considered a study of the state. effectiveness of vaccination “because there are too many variables.”

With treatments now seen as a game changer, Scrase said his next hope is that deaths from the virus can be prevented.

New Mexico’s coronavirus death toll is nearing 7,900, state data shows.

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