January 13, 2022

State to get COVID help from federal medical teams

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New Mexico will get a boost in medical personnel from the federal government amid the ongoing COVID-19 surge.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham acknowledged that New Mexico is one of a handful of states that will receive federal medical teams. New Mexico had a large increase in cases in December, before the rise of the Omicron variant, and case numbers have continued to increase to record levels in recent days.

Hospitalizations have also remained at high levels for weeks in New Mexico, with 609 people hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Thursday.

“I am grateful to President Biden and our federal partners for their continued support in our ongoing battle against COVID-19,” Lujan Grisham said. “New Mexico health care workers are counting on each and every one of us to do our part to ease their burden – get vaccinated, get boosted, and mask up.”

The U.S. Department of Defense Medium Medical Team is expected to arrive in New Mexico within the next week and will provide help at the University of New Mexico Hospital for 30 days. 

This isn’t the first time the state received federal medical help. Two Navy Medium Medical Teams have been at the San Juan Regional Medical Center under the direction of the New Mexico National Guard for the last 45 days.

The federal government announced that its medical teams would be sent to five states in addition to New Mexico: Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Rhode Island.

Biden announced the move Thursday, while also announcing 500 million more tests for Americans and other mitigation measures, including providing “high-quality masks” as cases increase throughout the country.

Acting Department of Health Secretary Dr. David Scrase thanked the federal government for the aid from the medical teams.

“Our hospitals have been overfilled since August and we are this week experiencing a new but expected surge in hospitalizations as a result of the Omicron variant,” Scrase said in a statement. “The combination of federal assistance and the 500 contracted healthcare personnel brought in by the Department of Health are helping us through this very difficult time. Please, everyone, get your booster, or get a first or second dose if you haven’t yet.”

The majority of those hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated. According to the state’s latest vaccination case report, released on Monday, 83.2 percent of those hospitalized with COVID-19 are unvaccinated. A majority of New Mexicans are fully vaccinated.