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State to require vaccine booster for certain workers

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Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

The state of New Mexico announced it will now require certain workers to receive a booster shot of the COVID-19 vaccine on the same day it reported the highest single-day amount of new cases since the delta variant of the virus started a surge of cases this summer.

The public health order was amended several months ago to require workers in high-risk environments such as health care and congregate care to be vaccinated. State employees and public school employees also must be vaccinated or undergo weekly surveillance testing for COVID-19.

Thursday’s amendment to the health order, issued by Dr. David Scrase, acting secretary of NMDOH, requires those employees to get a booster shot of the vaccine by Jan. 17 or within four weeks of becoming eligible. The update was announced Thursday in a press release from the governor’s office.

Adults who have been vaccinated are eligible for a booster six months after their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or two months after the single Johnson & Johnson shot.

The statewide requirement for all people to wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status remains.

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The change comes as the World Health Organization and governments across the globe express serious concern about a new variant, omicron, first identified Nov. 24 in South Africa and now confirmed in more than two dozen countries. It was confirmed Wednesday in California.

Much is unknown about the variant such as whether or not it will have a higher level of transmission or cause more severe cases of COVID-19, but health officials encouraged those who are not yet fully vaccinated or who can receive a booster shot to do so.   

According to the NMDOH vaccine dashboard, 23.8% of adults in New Mexico have received a booster shot. That percentage is slightly higher than the national figure at 23.3%, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Almost three-fourths of New Mexico adults have completed a vaccine series and 86% have had at least one dose.

“New Mexico is doing well with boosters, better than the national average, but we still must do better,” Scrase said. “Our hospitals are overfull, and the spread of the virus continues to exacerbate the issue. New Mexico isn’t an island, and we can’t prevent the new variant from arriving here. So we must defend ourselves with the tools we know to work: masks, vaccines, and personal decisions that serve to protect the collective well-being.”

Also on Thursday, NMDOH reported 2,054 new cases in 32 counties — all but Harding County — and one correctional facility.

The report included 79 new cases in Chaves County, the second-highest amount in southeast New Mexico. Eddy County reported 81 new cases. Curry County had 51 cases, Lea County had 33, Quay and Roosevelt each had 20, Lincoln County had 17 and De Baca County had six.

Elsewhere in the state, Bernalillo County had 610 cases, Doña Ana had 298, Sandoval County had 137, San Juan County had 120 and Valencia County had 114.

The total number of cases in the state is 318,135 including 13,969 in Chaves County.

Fourteen deaths were reported in Thursday’s case update, including a Chaves County man in his 70s who had underlying health conditions. His is the 218th death in the county related to COVID-19.

Among the other deaths, four were from Bernalillo County. Doña Ana and Torrance counties each reported two, and Colfax, Otero, Sierra, San Juan and Socorro counties each reported one death.

The ages of the deceased ranged from a man in his 40s from Bernalillo County to a woman from Doña Ana County and a man from Sierra County both in their 80s. Nine had been hospitalized and 11 had underlying health conditions.

The total number of deaths in New Mexico is now 5,393.

The number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 in New Mexico was 655 as of Thursday.

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com.

 

To keep up with local coverage of the coronavirus, go to rdrnews.com/category/news/covid-19-situation/.

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