New Mexico’s cooling northwestern hot spot is pushing the state’s overall COVID-19 infection rate down, a welcome reversal from two weeks ago when a spike caused health officials to consider resuming tougher restrictions.

The state’s transmission rate is 0.93, meaning 100 people would spread the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, to 93 people.

Having the infection rate fall below 1 is significant because that leads to a steady decrease in new cases if it stays under that threshold, Human Services Secretary David Scrase said.

Scrase emphasized a downward trend does not reflect a change in the virus itself but of the precautions people are taking, such as wearing masks and social distancing. “There’s this general belief amongst the people in New Mexico that things are getting better and now we can all get back to work,” he said. “The virus is going to be the same and we’re gonna be just as susceptible to it until we’re all vaccinated. Remember that, please.”

The state considered reinstating COVID-19 restrictions two weeks ago when cases increased and critical-care beds filled beyond 100 percent, but the surge has waned, Scrase said.

The latest count shows hospitals have 276 of those beds filled, which is 46 above the baseline, or what’s deemed normal full capacity, he said. That’s still well below 460, the ceiling under which COVID-19 patients don’t have to share ventilators.

The state has changed its target transmission rate to 1.05 from 1.15, Scrase said, explaining that it had to do with recalculations.

Positive trends must continue before the state moves to the next phase of lifting restrictions, Scrase said.



The northwest region’s average rate of new cases over 10 days has dropped to 0.66, compared with 1.24 in the northeast, which includes Santa Fe County.

That’s good news for McKinley and San Juan counties, where a severe outbreak was ravaging the Navajo Nation. This region’s ebb is nudging the state’s overall rate down, Scrase said.

The Santa Fe area’s rate seems stubbornly high because the number of cases there are low overall and will show less of a day-to-day change, he said.

Scrase said the state has received 3,109 vials of the antiviral drug remdesivir, enough to treat 350 to 400 patients.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that a group of COVID-19 patients who took remdesivir recovered in 11 days compared to 15 days for those who didn’t receive the drug, Scrase said.

More importantly, there’s almost a one-third reduction in mortality rate, Scrase said.

“It works,” he said.

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(4) comments

Charles Shelton

It's good to see some people are thinking. The numbers don't make sense because they are false. Basically everything coming from Scrase has not been credible.

According to public health department data at COVID Tracking Project, 147 hospitalized patients in NM have tested positive for COVID-19. This does not mean they are hospitalized FOR COVID, just that they test positive. American Hospital Association data shows there are 3891 hospital beds in NM, so these patients represent only 3.7% of available beds.

(As hospitals elsewhere around the country have been able to resume "non essential" medical care, such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and nonemergent surgeries, and open hospitals for more elderly, as state restrictions being lifted, the number of patients testing positive will increase, too.)

His claims that politically-driven tougher government restrictions have made the virus less transmissible is pseudoscience. Like all coronaviruses, this virus is not unique. Viruses run their natural course unrelated to government restrictions. The unprecedented efforts of testing, "social distancing" and face coverings are not supported in medical literature.

Nor in real life evidence.

COVID-related deaths in NM are 21.8/100,000.

Compare this to Texas, where COVID restrictions are considerably less restrictive, at 7.4/100,000. Or Arizona with 17.9/100,000 (Source: John Hopkins, data as of June 20, 2020, 3:00 am)

Nor can the Governor's continued restrictions be shown to lower infection rates. The number of positive tests reflect who is being tested. In NM, everyone regardless of if they have any symptoms, is being tested. In fact, according to Scarse's June 19th COVID-19 update, 85% of tests in NM are being done on non high-risk populations. So it's no surprise that increasingly testing healthy people finds fewer infections. By comparison, only people with COVID symptoms and/or known exposure are tested in Texas. Health professionals logically expect higher percentages of SICK people to test positive.

He has repeatedly stated his intention to keep NM locked down until everyone is vaccinated, which, in reality, could be years away (average development of vaccines that are safe and effective is 10-15 years). Or more likely, never. No successful vaccine for a coronavirus, including SARS or MERS, has ever been developed, and independent medical professionals are skeptical about one for COVID. The new rush to develop an experimental COVID vaccine will be using new and largely unproven genetic DNA and mRNA methods and the medical literature is filled with cautionary findings. Scientists have known for years that genetically engineered vaccines have significant unpredictability and a number of inherent potential dangers. Texas researchers, supported by NIAID, working on the development vaccines for coronaviruses (SARS-CoV) issued a caution in 2012 against proceeding to application of the vaccine in humans when they found that all of the vaccines in development induced pulmonary immunopathy in animal testing.

Scarse also touts Remdesivir, claiming it reduced mortality by almost one-third. There is no evidence to support this claim. The first actual randomized controlled clinical trial of remdesivir conducted at ten hospitals, published in Lancet, found it failed to provide clinical benefits, with no statistically significant reduction in clinical symptoms. Remdesivir did not significantly reduce virus loads or detectability in the upper respiratory tract or sputum specimens, "despite showing antiviral effects in preclinical models." Nor did remdesivir lower mortality. After one month 13.9% of the patients had died compared to 12.9% of controls.

The study published in NEJM that Scrase mentioned actually reported "no statistically significant effect on mortality." The NEJM article was also only a preliminary report of the ACTT trial; the full trial is due to be completed in three years (April 1, 2023). This ACTT trial has been controversial in the medical literature because it violated clinical trial protocols and changed the endpoint months after the trial began, seemingly in response to negative results in the previous study, removing mortality and changing it to recovery time.

Whenever you hear scary numbers or people trying to make you live in fear, it's time to question. Some want us to believe that life can never return to normal and that we can't re open until it's safe. REMEMBER: Safe means never.

Chris Mechels

The latest count shows hospitals have 276 of those beds filled, which is 46 above the baseline, or what’s deemed normal full capacity, he said. That’s still well below 460, the ceiling under which COVID-19 patients don’t have to share ventilators.

These numbers make no sense, as the current numbers of Covid hospital cases is listed on the DOH website as 145, and two weeks ago, on 5 June, at 175. Seems to me too typical, their numbers frequently don't make any sense.

My conclusion... these numbers are "political" numbers, which support whatever direction they want, just like the rest of the Governor's numbers. That is consistent with her history prior to her current position. Sadly, it seem she just can't help herself, so her numbers are "soft" suiting her needs. Sort like Trump's latest press secretary, who told us; "I'll never lie to you.". That was a lie. Our Governor is the same, only perhaps a bit less. Perhaps all politicians have this reality gap, because lies have no penalty. We need to create a penalty. Sad to see the Doctor roped into this political dishonesty.

Chris Mechels

All numbers must be treated with caution because of a lack of transparency by the Governor and her administration, and there extreme focus on Public Relations while claiming to be driven only "science". Surprised Michelle can even spell science.

The numbers can basically be manipulated to be whatever the want/need. They just changed the target gateway number from 1.15 to 1.05 to make it "better". Seems they can pick a number they like, so why 1.05? These same folks also had us NOT wearing masks for 2 month, while compulsively washing our hands. Now we must wear masks, but little "crappy" masks, not real masks. And people, from my observation at grocery stores, stopped washing their hands and distancing. Relying on a bandanna will NOT stop Covid, but will satisfy the Governor. Crazy.. I checked the "science" reference which "supported" the mask decison, and it doesn't. Check it out.

As for testing, we have no explanation for where, why, how many, and who they test; but all of those can be manipulated to get the numbers they want, at least for a time, until folks start dying, as in the tribal areas. They keep talking about testing 5,000 per day, with a goal of 7,500; but hardly make 4,500. Why?? No answers.

The story of an incompetent Governor, and managing the Public Relations, not the science. The New Mexican continues to be her lap dog.

Dan Frazier

While this is good news, I am still a bit concerned because neighboring areas, especially Arizona and Texas are surging in their infection cases. It is now summer -- tourist season. Visit any hotel in Santa Fe and you are likely to see license plates from Arizona and especially Texas, and maybe not just a few. Let's hope that these tourists are not bringing Covid-19 with them.

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