Department of Health Secretary-Designate Dr. Tracie Collins and Department of Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase gave an update on COVID-19 and the vaccine on February 17, 2021 - day 344 of the pandemic.

Dr. Collins reported a 22% increase in daily administered doses, and a doubling in administration of specifically the second doses. She said New Mexico looks forward to an increase in allocation of doses from the federal government in the coming week.

"I'm happy to report that our state has the third highest vaccination rate in the country," Dr. Collins said.

She said New Mexico continues to focus on vulnerable communities and reminds everyone to get registered at vaccinenm.org. 625,000 New Mexicans are already registered and the phases currently eligible are phase 1a and the first two subgroups of 1b. A full description of those eligible is here and the detailed vaccination plan can be found here

"What we have is a supply-demand mismatch," she said. "We're still hoping to get more doses. We have 800,000 New Mexicans that are eligible for the vaccine. We will be getting additional doses next week, and a possible new vaccine to add by the beginning of March."

"Vaccine distribution is a team effort," she said.

Dr. Collins reiterated the importance of registering for the vaccine and mentioned the new mask advice from the CDC before turing over the presentation to Dr. Scrase.

"The priority is that everyone would wear a mask," Dr. Scrase said. "For the skeptical, there are many articles available."

"First, everyone should wear a mask," he said. "Second, all people should have the mask covering their nose and mouth." Dr. Scrase said this helps keep droplets from traveling. "The CDC knows masks don't fit everyone's face perfect, and if there are any gaps it may not work." Ill-fitting masks seem to be the reasoning behind the new advice to double up.

"As we open up, mask-wearing will be critical," Dr. Scrase said.

Epidemiologically, there has been a steady downward trend in cases statewide. "There has been good progress everywhere. There are less positive cases, which reduces the positivity rate," he said.

"As things reopen, we can't relax with masking and the behaviors that help prevent the spread of the virus," he said.

"This pandemic affects society, not just us as individuals," he continued. "Being vaccinated does not mean it's over. Things will change when all of us are vaccinated, then we can evolve into a new way of life."

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