FARMINGTON – The New Mexico Department of Health announced Tuesday it would help assisted living facilities provide COVID-19 control guidance.
The state health department said it would deploy teams of health care workers to do on-site visits to the 269 licensed assisted living facilities throughout New Mexico, according to its announcement.
“State survey staff will focus on providing COVID-19-related infection-control guidance, written visitor protocols and to address staff, family and resident questions or concerns,” the news release said.
According to the Department of Health, the assisted living facilities will receive an on-site visit; feedback about current infection-control surveillance; written instructions and signage for visitors and residents about infection-control protocols; reference to websites with updated information about COVID-19; and continuing support and guidance to facility staff, residents and family members as the coronavirus outbreak continues to unfold.
While there had been zero confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state of New Mexico as of Tuesday afternoon, the department’s move reflects the growing concern for the community’s most vulnerable to the flu-like virus: the elderly. Based on the experience from China, the mortality is estimated at around 2% for all ages. But for people over 80, the mortality rate is estimated to be somewhere between 15% and 20%.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the best advice for a senior is to practice “social distancing,” or limiting contact with people who could carry the virus.
“The Department of Health has been empowered to provide improved support to New Mexico’s long-term health care residents, not just related to COVID-19 but everyday. We are proud to serve alongside leadership that prioritizes our seniors’ ongoing care and well-being,” Division of Health Improvement Director Chris Burmeister said in a news release.
The department’s announcement comes a week after it received COVID-19 tests kits from the CDC, allowing it to quickly test patients without having to send samples out of state for testing. The Department of Health also announced it was working with the state laboratory – which conducts the tests – to establish other testing sites throughout the state.
The testing at the state laboratory will be done at no cost to New Mexico residents.