About COVID-19

2019 Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

A new coronavirus is causing an outbreak of pneumonia. The virus was first identified in December 2019, among people who visited a seafood and animal market in Wuhan City, China. Health authorities have confirmed that the virus is able to spread from person to person. Cases have been identified in the United States.

What we are doing at NMDOH

Statewide Communication

The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) is actively responding to the novel coronavirus that is causing community spread in many countries around the world, and a small number of cases in the United States. Since late January, NMDOH began publishing weekly press releases and information on our website to help New Mexicans keep updated on the current situation and on professional guidance to stay healthy.

We have also held multiple web conferences with hospitals, emergency medical services, childcare organizations, universities, and schools to provide updates, guidance for preparing and responding to the possibility of cases in New Mexico, and to answer questions that our response stakeholders have. We have used the Health Alert Network for the healthcare community to update them on current response activities and guidelines for diagnosis, infection control, and notification procedures should they identify a suspect case.

Monitoring and Screening

New Mexico has identified cases of COVID-19. We are currently working to continue identifying cases as early as possible and implement isolation procedures to prevent further spread of the virus. Those procedures currently focus on 1) monitoring asymptomatic travelers from Europe, China, South Korea, and Iran during the time when they might develop disease if they were exposed to the virus and 2) supporting screening and infection control procedures in healthcare settings to identify illness in travelers or contacts of known COVID-19 patients. We are also testing many symptomatic individuals to monitor the possibility of community spread of the virus in New Mexico.

NMDOH is being notified of returning travelers through our 24/7 call line by both travelers and healthcare providers.  Returning China, Iran, and some cruise ship travelers are also being screened by Customs and Border Protection and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and we are notified when they arrive in the U.S. These travelers are asked to stay home for 14 days from the time they left Europe, China, South Korea, Iran, or cruise ship and refrain from unnecessary interactions with other people until this period is completed. NMDOH is in daily contact to confirm the absence of fever or respiratory symptoms. We are also actively monitoring the hospital bed capacity in New Mexico and the availability of facemasks, respirators, and other personal protective equipment needed for infection control. We are working with healthcare facilities to be prepared if there are shortages and to implement alternative sites for healthcare if needed, and to increase the supply of personal protective equipment.

On March 12, 2020, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced COVID-19 Self-Isolation Recommendations in an effort to mitigate the widespread community transmission of COVID-19. A 14-day self-isolation is recommended for individuals based on criteria that includes previous or planned international or domestic travel or contact with a person known to be positive for COVID-19. These recommendations are being enforced among all state employees known to have traveled and we encourage others to follow the same guidance.  

Emergency Response Planning

Based on years of planning for the next influenza pandemic, a virus that is similar to the novel coronavirus, we have adapted our plans based on current knowledge of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.  We have focused on measures to track the cases identified in New Mexico, to prevent spread of infections through social distancing, to ensure continuity of the healthcare system where patient volumes may require supplemental care sites, and to anticipate special approaches to effectively manage the needs that New Mexicans have for information and healthcare services. We are also stepping up our efforts to communicate what we know about COVID-19.

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