Virus cases skyrocketing once more
Last updated 8/22/2021 at 8:21pm
New COVID-19 cases in August are averaging more than 30 per day in Curry-Roosevelt counties combined, the highest rate since January.
And the state health department reported that those numbers skyrocketed at the end of last week with the two counties combined averaging 40 new cases per day from Wednesday through Friday.
Local, state and national health officials continued pleas for residents to be vaccinated.
“We know that the end of the pandemic will only come with more community members getting vaccinated,” said Jorge Cruz, administrator at Clovis’ Plains Regional Medical Center.
“Many in our community wanted to wait and see to learn more about the vaccine’s safety. With more than a billion doses administered, we know that vaccines are safe and effective -- now is the time to get vaccinated.”
Hospitalizations and deaths related to the virus also are on the rise, officials said. Both Roosevelt and Curry counties have reported two virus-related deaths in August after recording none in July. Statewide, officials say 128 COVID-related deaths have been recorded the first 20 days in August, compared to 80 in all of June and 70 in July.
The numbers are also increasing in the Texas Panhandle. On Friday, Amarillo hospitals had 63 COVID-19 patients in intensive care. In Lubbock, officials said 54 COVID patients were hospitalized on ventilators on Friday.
Statistics from New Mexico and the Panhandle show about 90 percent of the hospitalized patients are unvaccinated.
“Your chances of a serious illness are much reduced if you’ve been vaccinated — overwhelmingly,” Lubbock Mayor Dan Pope said. “Evidence shows these vaccines are protective against serious illness. Please, please consider being vaccinated.”
Pope also said the average age of COVID patients in Lubbock is 53 and the average age of COVID patients on ventilators is 48.
“Those are very young ages,” he said. “Yes, some of those in our hospital have break-through infections, but those numbers remain very low.”
PRMC on Saturday morning reported 22 COVID patients in the hospital, including five in intensive care. That’s the highest single-day number since early this year.
Roosevelt General Hospital in Portales reported Friday it had four patients hospitalized with the virus. Of 12 positive tests at RGH on Friday, officials said one was a reinfection, two were pediatric patients and three were vaccinated.
“We are encouraging everyone to get the vaccine,” said RGH spokeswoman Jeanette Orrantia. “The delta variant of COVID’s transmission rate is proving to be at least two times more spreadable than other variants. We are experiencing a high volume of visitors to our infection clinic for testing and positive results are higher than the last few months.”
State records show 42 percent of Curry County residents are fully vaccinated; about 34 percent of Roosevelt County residents are fully vaccinated.
In other COVID developments:
• Cruz said the increase in COVID cases has led to the hospital’s decision to postpone elective surgeries, effective Sept. 1, “in the effort to free up resources so that we can adequately respond to current surge.”
• State officials on Friday reported 15 establishments in Curry and Roosevelt counties were on the state’s rapid response watchlist. A rapid response is initiated when a positive case of COVID-19 is identified for an employee, or in the case of a school building when a staffer or student with COVID-19 was on campus.
Establishments make the list if there are multiple rapid responses within 14 days.
Curry County locations include Southwest Cheese with four and Barry Elementary with three. Barry is one of seven area schools with two or more rapid responses. Texico High School, Clovis High School Freshman Academy, Yucca Middle School and La Casita, Highland and Mesa elementary schools each have recorded two.
In Roosevelt County, Good Life Senior Living and Memory Care in Portales recorded six rapid responses.
• Presbyterian Health Care, which includes PRMC, announced last week it is requiring its entire workforce to receive COVID-19 vaccinations. Cruz declined to provide specifics but said “the majority of our workforce is vaccinated.”