By Hallie Richwine 

Secretary of Health and Human Services, Dr. David Scrase, and state epidemiologist Dr. Chad Smelser addressed members of the media Tuesday and gave an update on what the state's medical professionals know as of the 196th day of life during COVID-19.

Scrase opened with information in the media, including the Scientific American article on how Mew Mexico controlled the spread of COVID-19. The article highlighted New Mexico's testing strategy, comparing the state to our neighbors in Arizona and Texas. New Mexico was also the subject of a New York Times article about a nursing home devoted to treating those with COVID-19.

Nursing home visitation guidelines have now been updated at the federal level. Updates include guidance for assessing when indoor visitation can occur. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a previous press conference that focusing on improving visitations directly impacts the mental and emotional health of residents.

Scrase cited a Dallas Morning News article about the rise in cases in Texas since the beginning of the school year. "If you have any symptoms, stay home," Scrase said. He said multiple states find students testing positive after returning to in-person school. New Mexico has a high percentage of multi-generational households, which means the possibility of increased risk for older generations as students and staff return to school.

Scrase shared a multitude of data points including risk factors in the essential worker population and lasting effects in those who have recovered from COVID-19.

Not all of the data was daunting. Scrase shared an influenza update published by the World Health Organization that showed a decrease in flu cases int he Southern Hemisphere. Mask-wearing and COVID-safe practices seem to be cutting down on the spread of influenza, which could be good news for the Northern Hemisphere.

"I think this is positive news," Smelser said. "If we had seen a large season in the Southern Hemisphere we would be bracing for a bad respiratory season."

Scrase reminds New Mexicans to get vaccinated for influenza to help keep infection down. "Even small incidents of influenza coupled with COVID could be difficult for the state to deal with," Scrase said. He said there isn't a good timeline for a COVID vaccine at this time.

Scrase again reminded New Mexicans to keep up with their healthcare. This includes children's vaccinations and well-child visits.

In addition to the information found in the slides, please refer to cv.nmhealth.org - click on "epidemiology reports" int he purple bar to see updated information.


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