The secretary of New Mexico’s Aging and Long-Term Services Department (ALTSD) said COVID-19 safe practices continued at the state’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities despite rising cases among staff members.
During a Sept. 15 news conference acting New Mexico Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Dr. David Scrase said from Aug. 15 to Sept. 13 nearly 80 nursing home and long-term care staff members reported symptoms.
He said staff members showing no symptoms or asymptomatic rose to 60 cases from Aug. 24 to Sept. 6 and then fell below 60 starting around Sept. 7.
“The number for residents and staff are about the same,” he said.
Symptomatic nursing home residents’ cases peaked at around 40 during the week of Aug. 24 through Aug. 24 and fell below 30 Sept. 7 through Sept. 13, according to DOH data.
Asymptomatic resident cases were under 30 Aug. 24 through Aug. 24 and fell below 20 the week of Sept. 7, per DOH data.
ALTSD Secretary Katrina Hotrum-Lopez said nursing home residents had an 83 percent vaccination rate as of Monday morning and staff members had a vaccination rate of 65 percent.
“We’ve seen a drastic increase over the last couple of weeks in terms of COVID (-19) and the Delta variant coming into long-term care facilities. We’ve had 19 staff across the state symptomatic with COVID (-19) and we have a fair amount that are coming in asymptomatic,” she said.
Hotrum-Lopez said it was hard isolating residents and keeping them safe.
She said ALTSD was the rapid responder and surveillance department for long-term and nursing facilities in New Mexico for COVID-19.
“We are constantly speaking with facilities to make sure they have infection control protocols in place. We’ve been successful in that the DOH goes out and conducts annual survey’s in their infection control,”Hotrum-Lopez said.
Besides nursing homes and long-term care facilities, Hotrum-Lopez said programs at places like the San Jose Senior Center and the North Mesa Senior Recreation Center in Carlsbad were monitored by ALTSD.
“At this point many of the senior centers have not fully reopened. They are still doing the grab-and-go meals and as they can they are starting to open up certain functions within the senior center,” she said.
Hotrum-Lopez said ALTSD and senior centers across New Mexico have protocols to ensure safety.
Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway said the Carlsbad nutritional meals program followed COVID-19 precautions recommended by the State.
“The City’s senior center staff and Southeast New Mexico Community Action Corporation (SNMCAC) are taking all the necessary measures to help keep patrons safe,” he said.
“We are committed to providing events and activities for our seniors in as safe a manner as possible, but also toward ensuring that these opportunities still continue.”
Mike Smith can be reached at 575-628-5546 or by email at MSmith@currentargus.com or @ArgusMichae on Twitter.