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Farmington hospital getting assistance due to COVID-19 surge

November 5, 2021 GMT

FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — State and federal health agencies are sending 70 caregivers to San Juan Regional Medical Center due to a surge in COVID-19 patients in northwestern New Mexico in the past month.

Over half of all patients at the hospital in Farmington tested positive for COVID-19 and San Juan County reported 3,657 positive cases in October, more than the previous four months combined, the Farmington Daily Times reported.

The number of COVID-19 patients being treated at the hospital had been steadily climbing for weeks but rose dramatically between Oct. 27 and Nov. 3.

State officials have warned that spread across New Mexico, including in San Juan County, remains high despite vaccinations and the mask mandate for indoor public spaces. They have suggested that waning immunity and the infectious nature of the delta variant are partly to blame.

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The state Department of Health is sending 34 caregivers to San Juan Regional, and the hospital is also getting a 36-person team from the National Disaster Medical System of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The state’s deployment was authorized after San Juan Regional enacted crisis standards of care due to the large number of COVID-19 patients.

A public health alert pushed to cell phones on Nov. 3 called on residents to help reduce the “enormous strain on our healthcare system” by wearing a mask, socially distancing and getting vaccinated.

San Juan Regional singled out several ZIP codes in Aztec, Bloomfield and Farmington as contributing to COVID-19 spread, saying the rising COVID-19 patient count at the hospital was due to “significantly low vaccine rates.”

“It’s so important for us as a community to depoliticize all the rhetoric in our country, our state and our community around this pandemic,” Jeff Bourgeois, San Juan Regional’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “The best way to prevent contracting the disease, prevent hospitalization, prevent an ICU admission, and ultimately prevent mortality related to COVID-19 is to seek a vaccination.”

State data shows that overall more than 74% of adults in San Juan County are fully vaccinated. That’s higher than the statewide rate of nearly 73%.

To boost the numbers, the state is turning once again to incentives. In Albuquerque, a vaccination clinic is planned with the Consulate of Mexico on Nov. 13. It will feature free groceries for the first 50 participants. Gift cards and other prizes also will be given out.

New Mexico helped pioneer cash incentives last June. Many other states also had lottery giveaways and other prizes.

State officials said vaccination clinics targeting families with children ages 5 to 11 also will be scheduled in various cities in the coming weeks.