Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Confirmed COVID-19 cases continue to decline


March 9, 2022

Confirmed COVID-19 cases numbers last week continued their slide in Quay County and were at low levels seen before the Delta and Omicron variants ravaged the region.

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Quay County last week was just four, including none on Friday. That compares to eight cases the previous week and 18 the week before that.

That low level last week roughly compares to the county’s turquoise levels of community spread seen last spring and early summer. Quay County could tolerate up to 10 coronavirus cases during a two-week period and still remain in that best-case rating.

The COVID Act Now website last week also dropped coronavirus risk rating of Quay County to “high risk,” the lowest it has been in months.

The total number of cases in the county rose to 1,973 since the pandemic began in spring 2020.

According to state epidemiology reports, Quay County’s COVID-19 case rate fell to 15.3 new cases per 100,000 people from Feb. 15 to Feb. 28, another substantial decline from the 24.7 rate in the previous reporting period. Quay County ranks in the bottom three counties in the state in transmission rate.

Neighboring Guadalupe County again saw the state’s worst rate, at 58.2 per 100,000, but that still was a drop of more than half from the previous reporting period. Lea County was the lowest, at 8.1 per 100,000, and it was the only county in New Mexico in the orange risk level during that time period. All the rest of the counties remained in the red.

New Mexico Health Secretary David Scrase pointed out during a briefing Wednesday the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s revised criteria for COVID-19 community levels of spread would put several counties, including Quay, in the green zone, or lowest risk. Scrase said, however, that the state had not planned to adopt that criteria.

The breakdown of COVID-19 cases by ZIP code in Quay County through Friday was 1,513 in Tucumcari, 279 in Logan, 93 in San Jon, 34 in House, 21 in McAlister, 18 in Bard and 14 in Nara Visa.

One more confirmed COVID-19 death was reported last week in Quay County. The latest was a woman in her 50s who was hospitalized.

The death toll in Quay County rose to 49 since the pandemic began in spring 2020. A total of 41 of the deaths have occurred since late May 2021.

Asked by a reporter about the accuracy of COVID-19 death reports, Scrase said he was highly confident in 90% of those cases because the deceased person’s physician writes it down as the primary cause of death on the death certificate.

On the other 10% of deaths, he said the state double-checks with a COVID-19 test to see whether it’s a factor.

“As a physician, I don’t think we’re overestimating” COVID-19 deaths, he added.

A total of 1,856 people in Quay County were deemed by the DOH to have recovered from the virus.

No COVID-19 rapid responses were reported in the county last week.

More data

In New Mexico, the seven-day daily case average fell to 361 by Friday, compared to about 500 during the previous week.

A total of 381 new cases of coronavirus were reported in New Mexico on Friday. That raised the total since the pandemic began to more than 513,000.

A total of 197 people were hospitalized in New Mexico with the disease Friday, another decrease of more than 100 from the previous week.

Scrase said the crisis standards of care declaration for many New Mexico hospitals was set to expire in mid-March. He said while COVID-19 hospitalizations had declined, several hospitals still were full and that staffing them remained an issue.

Sixteen COVID-19 deaths were reported in the state Friday, raising the total to 6,972.

The total number of active cases in the Amarillo metro region plummeted Friday to more than 1,267. That was a drop of nearly 1,500 from the previous week and a sharp decline from about 13,000 cases just a few weeks ago.

The active-case count in the metro was about 300 last summer.

The disease has killed 1,150 people in the Amarillo metro since the pandemic began.

In the U.S., more than 79.2 million people have been confirmed with COVID-19 since the pandemic began, with more than 958,000 deaths, through Saturday.

Looking ahead

Scrase has noted in the last few briefings the next variant of COVID-19 tends to show up in New Mexico about six months after the previous one. That would project the next variant arriving in summer.

Asked by a reporter whether the state would impose mask mandates again with that, Scrase replied “I don’t know if we’re predisposed of mandates” except maybe with the most catastrophic scenario.

Scrase said he would be more inclined to have the state stock up on COVID-19 drugs that greatly reduce the rate of hospitalizations if a person takes them during the early stages of infection.

Vaccinations have flattened in Quay County and statewide.

According to state data through Friday, 53.1% of Quay County residents have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus. That did not change from the previous week.

About 60.6% of county residents have received one shot of COVID-19 vaccine through Friday, which also did not change from the previous week.

In New Mexico, 78.1% of eligible residents had been fully vaccinated by Friday, with 91.9% receiving at least one dose of vaccine. Those rates were an uptick of only 0.1% from the previous week.

Residents can schedule vaccinations through the state’s registration portal at VaccineNM.org.

The Department of Health’s vaccination helpline is available at 855-600-3453, option 3.


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