Supply still can’t meet COVID-19 vaccine demand, but cases continue to fall in NM

State health officials continued to express optimism over the trend of COVID-19 and vaccinations in the state, announcing that the state had administered over 450,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine as of Wednesday, including nearly 145,000 who have received both doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. The vaccination rate of 7 percent, Department of Health Secretary-designate Dr. Tracie Collins said, was the third-highest of any state in the country. It is also double the state’s rate from two weeks ago. “We’re focusing on vulnerable populations and communities moving forward,” Collins said. The state is still vaccinating those in the 1A and first two subphases of 1B groups, with an emphasis on those in 1A.

Economic recovery bill hits speed bump in Senate Finance Committee

The Senate Finance Committee voted Tuesday to “temporarily table” a major economic recovery bill to work on amendments and deal with other issues. “There is more than enough time to make sure that whatever version is endorsed by this [committee] at the very least addresses some of the serious issues raised by our staff,” said Sen. Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque. “I fully want this $200 million to go out, but we’ve also got to be the adults in the room and be the last line of defense to ensure that money is spent responsibly,” Candelaria added. “I think this committee needs to take some time with this bill.” House Bill 11 and a companion bill in the state Senate are designed to provide businesses with economic relief and also stimulate job growth, part of an ongoing effort to help New Mexicans struggling with the fallout of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Recap of New Mexico COVID-19 news (2/17/21 edition)

This morning recap of COVID-19 news from New Mexico is available in a free email every weekday. Sign up here. See all of our COVID-19 coverage here. The state Department of Health reported 308 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday and 12 additional deaths. In the press release announcing this, DOH included this new language:Daily case counts and test numbers are raw data based on information the state receives today – meaning data that has not yet been scrutinized to identify potential duplicates or late-arriving positives or negatives. By contrast, the Red Yellow Green county-level analysis provides a highly accurate picture for a two-week period of time.The state of New Mexico has administered 441,786 doses out of the 448,500 it has received from the federal government as of Tuesday.

Recap of New Mexico COVID-19 news (2/16/21 edition)

This morning recap of COVID-19 news from New Mexico is available in a free email every weekday. Sign up here. See all of our COVID-19 coverage here. The state Department of Health reported just 200 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, the lowest number in months. The state also reported nine additional deaths related to the disease. Read more here.As of Monday, the state of New Mexico reported it had administered 437,903 doses out of the 429,950 it had received.

200 new COVID-19 cases, fewest in months

The state Department of Health reported 200 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, the fewest in a single day in months. DOH also reported nine additional deaths related to the disease. The last time the state had fewer than 200 reported cases in a single day was Oct. 5. 

The low number of new cases on Monday did come with a lower-than-average number of new COVID-19 tests results compared to recent weeks. DOH has now found 180,671 cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic and reported 3,538 deaths related to the disease.

NM Supreme Court issues official opinion on validity of state emergency health orders

The New Mexico Supreme Court on Monday issued a written opinion that explained its reasoning behind a bench ruling regarding state emergency public health orders. The high court ruled last summer that the state and the governor are legally allowed to issue emergency health orders without a formal rulemaking process. 

The court unanimously ruled that the state Department of Health and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham are granted, by the Legislature, the ability to issue orders limiting certain business activities. In this case, businesses were ordered to cease indoor dining during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Last year a group of business owners challenged those orders, arguing that they were arbitrary and capricious and that the normal rulemaking process should be followed to implement such emergency orders. 

In her, likely final, written opinion, former Chief Justice Judith Nakamura said the emergency public health orders like the ones that were issued last year and have been updated since, provide the state with the ability to respond to “the swiftly changing dynamics of a novel, dangerous, and highly communicable disease.”

Justice David Thomson issued a special concurring opinion with a caveat to the unanimous decision. Thomson said he agreed that the state’s executive branch should have the flexibility to issue emergency orders, but that the governor’s office is not above scrutiny and questions regarding those decisions. 

“The majority’s holding should not communicate that executive or legislative responses to the pandemic will always receive the same level of judicial deference as when the crisis first emerged,” Thomson wrote. “In addition, I believe we must be wary of the precedent we set beyond the scope of the COVID-19 crisis.”

Monday’s written opinion is the latest in a series of decisions from the court that validated Lujan Grisham’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The state Supreme Court has yet to issue an opinion on whether ordering businesses close to the public is the same as the state taking property, which would require the state to compensate those businesses.

NM reports 856 new COVId-19 cases, 27 deaths over the weekend, as hospitalizations plummet

Over the weekend, the state of New Mexico reported 856 new cases of COVID-19 and 27 additional deaths related to the disease. This was with 571 new cases and 14 additional deaths on Saturday and 285 new cases and 13 additional deaths on Sunday. As of Sunday, 292 individuals were hospitalized for the disease, 73 fewer than on Friday and the fewest since Oct. 26. This could include those from other states who are hospitalized in New Mexico, but would not include New Mexicans who are hospitalized in other states. 

DOH has now found 180,571 cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic and reported 3,529 deaths related to the disease.

Lujan Grisham talks COVID-19 financial aid during meeting with Biden

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham joined a handful of governors and mayors in a meeting to discuss COVID-19 relief with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in the White House. Biden praised the mayors and governors and said “these are the folks that are on the ground dealing with it every single, solitary day.”

Lujan Grisham responded to the meeting in a statement. “I was humbled to represent New Mexicans in the Oval Office this afternoon and to advocate for the direct aid our businesses, front-line workers, local governments and tribal governments desperately need. President Biden made it very clear to me directly: His government wants New Mexico to succeed in our struggle against COVID-19 and he and his administration are fighting in Congress to get New Mexicans every resource we need as part of our ongoing economic recovery after this year of crisis.”

The president emphasized the importance of getting vaccines out to Americans. “But equally consequential is that we need to help the states economically in terms of unemployment to being able to ensure they’re able to get back to schools, what role the federal government should play in helping getting that done,” Biden said.

State hits most COVID-19 gating criteria goals

In the last two days, the state of New Mexico reported 948 new cases of COVID-19 and 41 additional deaths related to the disease. This was with 541 new cases and 18 additional deaths on Thursday and 407 new cases and 23 additional deaths on Friday. As of Friday, 365 individuals were hospitalized for the disease, fourteen fewer than on Wednesday and the fewest since Nov. 1. This could include those from other states who are hospitalized in New Mexico, but would not include New Mexicans who are hospitalized in other states. 

DOH has now found 179,724 cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic and reported 3,502 deaths related to the disease.

Recap of New Mexico COVID-19 news (2/12/21 edition)

This morning recap of COVID-19 news from New Mexico is available in a free email every weekday. Sign up here. See all of our COVID-19 coverage here. The state Department of Health reported 541 new cases of COVID-19 (including 101 in Chaves County, the most in that county since December) on Thursday. The department also reported 18 additional deaths related to the disease. As of Thursday, there were 371 individuals hospitalized for COVID-19.Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham will leave the state of New Mexico for the first time since the start of the pandemic, when she travels to Washington D.C. to meet with President Joe Biden along with a small, bipartisan group of governors and mayors to discuss state and local aid as part of a COVID-19 relief package.The Biden administration also said it would meet with Indigenous leaders to discuss (among other things) COVID-19, Axios reported.The Navajo Nation has vaccinated 44.5 percent of residents of the reservation—and one hospital has even started vaccinating anyone over the age of 18, the Navajo Times reported.A significant winter storm is expected to hit northern and central New Mexico this weekend, bringing with it extremely low temperatures.