As COVID-19 cases continue to escalate in Santa Fe and statewide, an outbreak is growing at Casa Real, one of two long-term care homes in the city with infections.
The New Mexico Department of Health provided data Wednesday showing 12 residents and six staff members had tested positive. A Friday report listed three additional resident cases had been confirmed.
Lori Mayer, spokeswoman for Casa Real, provided different figures. She said 10 patients and three workers had tested positive by Thursday in an outbreak that began sometime last week in the facility’s memory unit. She wrote in an email the facility was unaware of how the outbreak occurred and “may never know.” Family members were notified after the first case appeared, she added.
Mayer declined a request to arrange an interview with an administrator at the home.
Casa Real, a Genesis HealthCare-run nursing home with about 95 residents on Galisteo Street, is one of 83 long-term care centers in New Mexico that appeared on the Health Department’s most recent list of facilities with cases that have emerged in the last 28 days. The list shows a total of about 800 cases among residents and staff and 25 patient deaths.
Among the cases are four patient infections and two worker infections at the Legacy Santa Fe assisted living center on Avenida Aldea.
According to the data, the state’s worst congregate care outbreaks are at Desert Springs Nursing and Rehabilitation in Hobbs, where 40 patients and 15 workers have tested positive and nine patients have died; Casa Arena Blanca Nursing Center in Alamogordo, with 33 patient infections, 26 worker infections and one patient death; Cedar Ridge Inn in Farmington, with 26 patient cases, 12 staff cases and three patient deaths; and Princeton Place in Albuquerque, with 34 patient cases, 16 worker cases and one patient death.
Mayer wrote in an email the majority of residents at Casa Real who tested positive have mild symptoms or are asymptomatic. All staffers at the facility are vaccinated, and the majority of residents are vaccinated, she added.
James Walton, a spokesman for the Department of Health, said there are sometimes discrepancies between the numbers of cases reported by long-term care facilities and the numbers reported by the state agency. While the department counts cases on a 28-day cycle, he said, nursing homes tend to count cases on a 14-day basis.
Walton added the Department of Health only counts residents who are infected while living at a long-term care facility, not patients who go to a nursing home while being treated for COVID-19.
“These are two reasons why there is a disparity,” Walton wrote in an email. “It’s also part of the reason why NMDOH quit printing the [long-term care] counts because the difference is confusing, and it isn’t an apples to apples comparison.”
The rise in long-term care cases come as the state is experiencing one of the steepest spikes in COVID-19 across the nation, despite having some of the most rigorous face mask and vaccine requirements.
Health officials reported 1,530 newly confirmed cases Wednesday, 1,790 Thursday and 1,844 Friday. Hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients rose to nearly 600 this week, and the death toll climbed by 94, with five Santa Feans dying from the illness.
New Mexico ranks second in the nation for the number of hospitalizations per capita over the past two weeks and eighth in the number of COVID-19 cases, according to data tracked by the New York Times.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, top state health officials and hospital leaders have urged residents to get vaccinated to help slow the spread of the highly contagious delta variant.
While the numbers of fully vaccinated adults and kids ages 12 to 17 have remained fairly steady at about 74 percent and 55 percent, respectively, Health Department data shows numbers rising more quickly for adults with a booster shot (19.2 percent) and children ages 5 to 11 who have had their first shot (10 percent).