Modeling from Los Alamos National Labs for the state of New Mexico shows that the current surge of COVID-19 cases could peak soon.
That’s according to state epidemiologist Dr. Christine Ross, who was one of three top state health officials who spoke during a press conference on Wednesday.
“We all need to continue doing our part with all of the mitigation measures, so masking indoors, avoiding crowds, every eligible person, please get out and get a vaccine, etc.,” she said.
She said it was a “possible plateau” but the state would need more data to make sure it wasn’t a blip in the data.
Vaccinations remained a key point for Ross and other officials. She noted that in the last four weeks, the vast majority of cases, hospitalizations and deaths have been among unvaccinated individuals, even as a majority of the state is now vaccinated.
In the last four weeks, 82.3 percent of confirmed COVID-19 cases have been among those who are not vaccinated, 89.6 percent of those hospitalized for COVID-19 are unvaccinated and 93.3 percent of COVID-19 related deaths are among those who are not vaccinated.
“The majority of infections that we’re seeing is among unvaccinated individuals,” she said. “And this is what’s driving this current surge of cases that we’re seeing, in addition to this highly infectious Delta variant that we’re dealing with.”
Department of Health Deputy Secretary Dr. Laura Parajón spoke about the rates of COVID-19 in children.
Currently 40.7 percent of 12 to 15 year olds are fully vaccinated, while 48.5 percent of 16 to 17 year olds are vaccinated, lower than those for most older age groups. Children age 11 and younger are not currently eligible to receive the vaccine.
Parajón noted that the Pfizer vaccine was approved for emergency use by the federal Food and Drug Administration in May, and that it has been found to be “extremely safe and effective.”
While some parents have had concerns about heart inflammation, myocarditis for inflammation of the heart and pericarditis for inflammation of the lining of the heart, she said it is a very rare side effect and that is actually more common among those who get COVID-19.
Hospital rooms remain a problem, with the state on the edge of entering crisis standards of care for the first time since the last major COVID-19 surge in the winter.
The same LANL modeling showed that the state could need over 700 beds for COVID-19 patients alone by next week.
As of Wednesday, 381 hospital beds were used for COVID-19 patients in New Mexico.
The waiting list for ICU beds dropped to about ten people, acting Department of Health Secretary Dr. David Scrase said. Last week, he said there were 50 people on the list.
He did note that ICU beds remain “very, very tight” in New Mexico.
“Keep in mind that we already have all of the actual beds full,” Scrase said. “And so these are stretch beds where we converted areas.”