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FAQ (COVID-19)

The coronavirus causes a respiratory illness known as COVID-19 that can spread from person to person. The disease was first identified in Wuhan, China. There are many types of human coronaviruses which are seen globally and commonly cause mild to moderate respiratory illness in people. COVID-19 is a new disease that has not been previously seen in humans. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. This may occur between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) or through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.  People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest). Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms. The virus may spread from contact with infected surfaces or objects. It may be possible that a person can get the disease by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their mouth, nose, or eyes. How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community in some geographic areas. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/transmission.html

Patients with COVID-19 have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:

Fever, cough, and shortness of breath and may appear 2-14 days after exposure. Complications from the virus may include pneumonia. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/symptoms.html

The first case of COVID-19 in the U.S. was reported on January 21, 2020. Current data on the disease in the U.S. can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-in-us.html.

New Mexico state health officials on March 13 announced four more New Mexico residents who tested presumptive positive for COVID-19, adding to the six presumptive positive tests earlier this week.
Per the state Department of Health, the most recent cases are:

  • ​A Bernalillo County man in his mid-50s with close household contact with a previous presumptive positive resident. He is at home in isolation.
  • ​A Bernalillo County man in his 80s with close household contact with a previous presumptive positive resident. He is hospitalized.
  • ​A Bernalillo County woman in her mid-70s with close household contact with a previous presumptive positive resident. She is at home in isolation.
  • ​A Santa Fe County woman in her late 20s with recent travel to New York. She is at home in isolation.

The other six presumptive positive tests in New Mexico were:

  • ​A Santa Fe County woman in her 50s with recent international travel to Italy.
  • ​A Socorro County husband and wife both in their 60s with known recent international travel to Egypt.
  • ​​A woman in her 70s in Bernalillo County with known recent travel to the New York City area.
  • A Santa Fe County woman in her 60s with known recent travel to the New York City area.
  • ​​A Bernalillo County woman in her 40s. The Department of Health is investigating a possible travel link.​

The New Mexico Department of Health has active investigations into each of the presumptive positive patients, which includes contact-tracing and swabs of symptomatic individuals who have had contact with the positive cases.

For more information about COVID-19 call the toll-free New Mexico Department of Health Information Hotline at 855-600-3453.

If suspected cases do evolve, testing will be coordinated through the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

New Mexico State University has an All Hazards Plan that includes Communicable Disease Preparedness. NMSU is currently working with the plan to mitigate illness exposure. The plan can be found at https://safety.nmsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/72/2020/02/CDRP-from-2018-AHEOP-08_23_18_FINAL-v-2-2-5-19.pdf

There is currently no vaccine to protect against COVID-19. There is no specific treatment for the disease but patients can seek medical care to help relieve the symptoms of fever and cough. Severe cases will need medical intervention and possible hospitalization.

  • Avoid close contact with people who appear sick
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Cover your cough and/or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects an surfaces using regular household cleaning spray or wipe
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Frequent hand washing is a good healthy habit.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention-treatment.html

On March 23, 2020, New Mexico Department of Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel announced a new public health emergency order effective at 8 a.m. Tuesday, March 24, closing all businesses and nonprofit entities except for those deemed essential, and further restricting mass gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All New Mexicans must immediately heed the directive to stay home except to maintain continuity of functions critical to public health and safety.
You may leave your home for these reasons:

  • ​If you work for an “essential business.” View a full list what businesses and services are deemed essential.
  • If your job is part of essential government services that cannot be conducted through telework (the latest order does not change this)
  • To conduct “necessary activities” – obtaining medicine or seeing a doctor, purchasing necessary supplies such as groceries and personal hygiene products, picking up educational supplies from your child’s school or providing necessary care and supplies to family members in another household.
  • You may leave your house to take a walk, or jog, or to walk the dog. But you may not do these things in groups. And you should limit your time outside to only what is essential.

View a complete list of the public health care order FAQ’s.

Definitions

Quarantine

This is for people who may have been exposed to the virus. They are asked to stay at home for 14 days. After that, people who still don’t test positive for the virus no longer have to be in a contained environment. Some people may choose or be asked to self-quarantine, meaning they do it voluntarily just because they think they may have been exposed or they are being just cautious.

Isolation

This is for people who actually have the virus or suspect they may be infected. Those with the virus who need to be hospitalized will be kept in an isolation unit. People who have been infected with the virus may be asked to self-isolate at home if they have no symptoms or are only mildly ill. It’s important to call your health provider, in any case, if you develop symptoms. Those in isolation should keep away from other people as much as possible. The CDC recommends that you use a separate bathroom, if available, wear a face mask when around others, and don’t share household items.

Shelter in place

These people are being asked to stay at home as much as possible, meaning they shouldn’t be out unless getting food, gas or other essentials, or for medical reasons. Health professionals, police, firefighters and other essential service providers are still expected to go to work. Going outside for a walk or exercise is allowed, and even encouraged, but people are asked to keep their distance from others.