As many of you have probably heard, the entire country is currently experiencing an uptick in COVID-19 cases, in part due to the rapid spread of the Omnicron variant. This appears to be the case locally, as Carlsbad Medical Center recently saw its positivity rate go from 10% to 22%. The hospital’s ICU also has a very high occupancy right now due to COVID-19, as do other hospitals across the state. Our fire department has seen an increase in COVID-19 related calls of 400%, as compared to the previous month. We have a COVID-19 task force that meets regularly and consists of city, school, county, fire department, hospital and Department of Health officials, as well as Artesia Mayor Raye Miller and a representative from our nursing homes.
According to hospital officials, about 95% of recent COVID-19 hospitalizations have been those who are unvaccinated. While the rise in COVID-19 positives can be attributed to the Omnicron variant, most of the hospitalizations are attributed to the Delta variant. Some data is indicating that, while Omnicron is especially contagious, it may not be especially potent- especially for those with immunities or resistance built up.
Eddy County has a vaccination rate of about 55%, according to the New Mexico Department of Health Dashboard. The good news is that those who have been vaccinated will receive significant protection from the Omnicron variant, meaning that they will be much less likely to require hospitalization if they contract COVID-19. A vaccination clinic is still offered every Monday morning at the civic center. There were 243 vaccinations given out this past week. This clinic (a partnership between the New Mexico Department of Health, Eddy County and the City of Carlsbad) has been so effective that other organizations are now using it as a model when developing their own models. Many local pharmacies are also offering vaccinations for those who want them.
Carlsbad Municipal Schools will resume its free COVID-19 testing for students and employees next week. While school resumes on Tuesday, these rapid tests will be available at Edison Elementary by 6:30 a.m. on Monday. Please consider having your child tested that day if you have any concerns. For everyone else, COVID-19 tests are still being offered at a variety of locations, including at the civic center on Mondays from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., at the college on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to noon and Thursdays from noon to 2 p.m., and through many health care providers and pharmacies. A local business, CBS Inc., is offering free testing Jan. 5 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. You can also order free tests through a service called Vault at https://learn.vaulthealth.com/nm/
Finally, there’s some good news on the COVID-19 front in that New Mexico has decided to adopt amended guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, meaning that recommended quarantine and isolation times have been shortened from ten days to five days. We will continue to provide information on vaccination and testing availability for those who are requesting this information.
Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway