Access issues plaguing the state could be exacerbating women’s cancer screenings difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the American Cancer Society. Tim Tokarski, senior manager for development in New Mexico and El Paso for the American Cancer Society, told NM Political Report that the need to travel long distances to see a physician is an issue for people who need a breast cancer screening or other types of gynecological cancer screenings. “New Mexico has a tremendous amount of access issues,” Tokarski said. But, distance isn’t the only barrier to health care access, he said. “Geography and income and insurance and socioeconomic status” also pose barriers, he said.
Breast cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed types of cancer for women in New Mexico and cancer experts urge women to make appointments if they previously delayed mammograms due to the COVID-19 pandemic. State Human Services Department Secretary Dr. David Scrase said during Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s press conference on Thursday there was a “serious drop off in preventive services” in the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And not all women who should be getting regular mammogram screenings this year have returned to see a health provider. “Stop delaying,” Scrase said. “If you are at high risk, schedule your screening today.”
Women are considered high risk if they have a family history of breast cancer or are over the age of 50.
The state announced 161 additional cases of COVID-19 Thursday and three additional related deaths. Three counties in the southeast – Chaves with 31; Eddy with 21; and Lea with 13 – reported double digit numbers Thursday. The other four counties that reported double digit numbers were Bernalillo with 27; Doña Ana with 17 and Santa Fe with 11. De Baca County reported its first case Thursday. During Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s press conference Thursday, Department of Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase praised the county.
A domestic worker and mother of four, Olga Santa lost her job because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Her daughters, age 7, 11, 13 and 15, are all learning remotely this fall in Albuquerque and will continue to do so for some time; the Albuquerque Public Schools Board voted six to one in August to continue distance learning through the end of the fall semester.
Like other families, Santa is juggling the stress and challenges of her daughters’ remote learning during an unprecedented pandemic. That includes worrying that if her husband, who works in construction, tests positive for COVID-19, they have no backup plan. With Santa out of work, her husband’s paychecks must now stretch to cover all of their expenses. When he was sick this year due to allergies and kidney stones, he still had to appear at the construction site because the family couldn’t afford for him to take a day off.
The state Department of Health announced Thursday 255 additional COVID-19 cases which includes a new uptick in cases in McKinley County. McKinley County, which has grappled with one of the highest numbers of cases of COVID-19 in the state, had eight cases Wednesday and low double digit numbers Monday and Tuesday but the county had 35 additional cases Thursday. Only Bernalillo County, with 63 new cases, had a higher total, but Bernalillo County has a population that is nearly 10 times larger. The newly confirmed cases represented 3.6 percent of the 7,026 tests processed since Wednesday. Human Services Department Secretary Dr. David Scrase said in a press conference Thursday that the state aimed to keep that number below 5 percent, while Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham hoped it could drop below 3 percent.
For the third day in a row, New Mexico saw more than 200 new cases of COVID-19, with double digit new cases also for the third day in a row coming from four counties: Bernalillo, McKinley, San Juan and Doña Ana. The New Mexico Department of Health announced 209 additional cases and two additional deaths related to COVID-19. The state tested 2,321 individuals Saturday. The total number of deaths reached 491 while the total number of test positive cases reached 11,619. These numbers come on a day in which national news media report that cases across the U.S. are on the rise and more than 2.5 million Americans have been infected by the disease.
New Mexico Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase has said that the state would like to test around 5,000 a day.