Hundreds new COVID-19 infections reported in Eddy County

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New Mexico Department of Health spokesperson Kathy Diffendorfer said the health agency projected the Omicron variant would likely comprise a majority of New Mexico's COVID-19 cases over the next two weeks.

“Carlsbad Medical Center has not yet received any results from samples sent to the state lab for testing for the Omicron variant,” said Melissa Suggs, spokesperson for Carlsbad Medical Center.

More: Eddy County's COVID-19 infections continue at or near triple digits

Dr. Vesta Sandoval, chief medical officer of Lovelace Health System, said COVID-19 testing protocols at medical facilities in Albuquerque and Roswell do not differentiate between Omicron and other variants.

“Given the prevalence of Omicron, it is likely that virtually all of our COVID-19 positive patients are infected with this variant. As a result, we are following the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendation to use Sotrovimab as the monoclonal antibody treatment of choice for Omicron,” she said.

Lovelace Health System Chief Medical Officer Dr. Vesta Sandoval said COVID-19 testing protocols at medical facilities in Roswell and Albuquerque  do not differentiate between Omicron and other variants.
Lovelace Health System Chief Medical Officer Dr. Vesta Sandoval said COVID-19 testing protocols at medical facilities in Roswell and Albuquerque do not differentiate between Omicron and other variants.

Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made proteins that mimic the immune system’s ability to fight off harmful pathogens such as viruses, like SARS-CoV-2, read the U.S. Food and Drug Administrations (FDA) website.

Sandoval said safety for Lovelace Health Systems patients, their families and healthcare staff in Roswell and Albuquerque remained a high priority and the facility follows recommended health and safety guidelines.

Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway said the City relied on the same sources as the general public when it comes to identifying COVID-19 variants.

More: Carlsbad Municipal School COVID-19 cases rise above 400 students and staff

“And we do not have any special information about prevalence of Omicron (in Carlsbad),” he said.

“We certainly know that COVID-19 numbers are very high everywhere at this time."

Per a DOH press release, Eddy County had 114 new COVID-19 cases Jan. 26 and reported one death related to the virus.

Eddy County had 15,590 overall COVID-19 cases as of Jan. 26 and 241 deaths, read DOH figures.

Mariana Abasta, a test administrator, places a vial into a tray at a saliva COVID-19 testing site, operated by Arizona State University and the Arizona Department of Health Services, on Jan. 26, 2022, in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Mariana Abasta, a test administrator, places a vial into a tray at a saliva COVID-19 testing site, operated by Arizona State University and the Arizona Department of Health Services, on Jan. 26, 2022, in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Suggs said Carlsbad Medical Center learned that Omicron appeared to spread more easily than the original COVID-19 virus and the Delta variant.

“Omicron is highly transmissible, moving quickly from person to person, primarily increasing infections and hospitalizations among the unvaccinated along with some breakthrough cases,” she said.

According to Suggs and the CDC website, vaccinations remained the best way to reduce the spread of the virus and protect people from serious illness.

“CDC recommends that everyone ages 16 years and older get a booster shot after completing their primary COVID-19 vaccination series. You are eligible for a booster at five months after completing Pfizer-BioNTech primary series, six months after completing Moderna primary series, and two months after the initial J&J/Janssen vaccine. Individuals ages 16-17 are only eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine,” CDC’s website indicated.

Suggs Carlsbad Medical Center encouraged residents to get vaccinated or boosted and follow proven practices for reducing the spread of infection.

“Frequent hand-washing, remaining home when you are sick and wearing a mask in crowded spaces. Using a KN95 or surgical mask has been found to be more effective than cloth masks,” she said.

More: New Mexico issues thousands of COVID-19 home tests to Artesia in Eddy County

Janway said the City of Carlsbad continued assistance to the community hosting a COVID-19 vaccination clinic Mondays at the Walter Gerrells Civic Center.

Home test kits distributed in February

The Eddy County Office of Emergency Management worked with the Village of Loving Police Department and the Artesia Police Department to distribute COVID-19 home test kits in the Eddy County communities in early February.

A post from the Village of Loving Facebook page indicated test kits would be distributed Feb. 1 at 3 p.m. at the Loving Community Center parking lot.

Artesia Police Department Spokesperson Cmdr. Pete Quinones said test kits were to be distributed in Artesia on Feb. 9 at 1 p.m. at Jaycee Park.

“APD will be in charge of all traffic control within the park. Vehicles will be required to enter on the north entrance gates, pick up their kits on the southside of the park and exit on the south gates, heading south,” he said.

A map from the Artesia Police Department indicates where people should line up for free COVID-19 home kit distributions in early February in Artesia.
A map from the Artesia Police Department indicates where people should line up for free COVID-19 home kit distributions in early February in Artesia.

Mike Smith can be reached at 575-628-5546 or by email at MSmith@currentargus.com or @ArgusMichae on Twitter.

This article originally appeared on Carlsbad Current-Argus: Hundreds new COVID-19 infections reported in Eddy County

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