Coronavirus COVID-19 under the microscope. 3d illustration

Taos County saw a 40 percent decline in its COVID-19 case rate (cases per 100,000 people per week) from the previous week. In New Mexico, cases were up 4 percent, while nationally cases were down 12 percent during the same time period.

Taos County reported 40 new cases of COVID-19 from Sep. 14-20, compared to 67 new cases the week before, according to town of Taos GIS analyst Tim Corner. The total number of cases in the county is now 2,183.

There was one additional death reported among Taos County residents last week, bringing the total number of deaths to 58.

Across New Mexico, 17 of 33 counties saw an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases. The average daily case count increased to 652 cases per day last week, up from 629 the week before, and the average deaths per day in the state remains at 10 per day.

The eastern half of the state, including Lincoln County, Lea County and Quay County, have seen the highest case rates.

Twenty-nine counties in the state continue to have high transmission rates. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines high transmission as more than 100 new cases per 100,000 persons in the past seven days. Santa Fe County and Catron County have a substantial transmission rate, Los Alamos County has a moderate transmission rate and Harding County has a low transmission rate.

The New Mexico Department of Health reports that the state has seen more than 246,000 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began in March 2020, with a death toll of 4,700. Johns Hopkins University reports that more than 678,000 people have died in the U.S. due to COVID-19.

Taos County residents (aged 18+) are 83 percent fully vaccinated and 92 percent partially vaccinated, according to Corner. For the state as a whole, 70 percent are fully vaccinated and 79 percent are partially vaccinated. For younger New Mexicans (aged 12–17), 53 percent are fully vaccinated and 63 percent are partially vaccinated.

Booster vaccines considered

On Aug. 18, President Biden announced plans to begin offering booster shots to Americans who had received vaccines eight or more months ago, due to data showing that antibody levels against the coronavirus decline over time.

According to the CDC, the agency’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) is reviewing data on the evolution of the pandemic and the use of COVID-19 vaccines.

ACIP will make recommendations on the use of booster shots after a complete review of the evidence. Booster shots will also require authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

If approved, boosters will be offered to individuals who first received vaccines at the beginning of the year, including health care providers and residents of long-term care facilities.

Vaccines for young children

Drug manufacturers Pfizer and BioNTech announced Monday (Sept. 20) results from Phase 2/3 trial showing “a favorable safety profile and robust neutralizing antibody responses in children 5-11 years of age using a two-dose regimen administered 21 days apart.”

“Over the past nine months, hundreds of millions of people ages 12 and older from around the world have received our COVID-19 vaccine. We are eager to extend the protection afforded by the vaccine to this younger population, subject to regulatory authorization, especially as we track the spread of the Delta variant and the substantial threat it poses to children,” said Albert Bourla, chairman and chief executive officer, Pfizer.

“Since July, pediatric cases of COVID-19 have risen by about 240 percent in the U.S. – underscoring the public health need for vaccination. These trial results provide a strong foundation for seeking authorization of our vaccine for children 5 to 11 years old, and we plan to submit them to the FDA and other regulators with urgency,” said Bourla.

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