New Mexico to Start Testing People Who Aren’t Showing Symptoms

April 1, 2020 Updated: April 1, 2020

New Mexico will start testing some people who aren’t showing symptoms for the new virus from China, including people who have come into close contact with people who have tested positive.

The COVID-19 disease crippling states across the nation is caused by the CCP (Communist Chinese Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.

“Although we have been urging the public to only get tested if you are symptomatic, we are changing that today,” New Mexico Department of Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel said at a press conference on Tuesday. State officials cited increased capacity to process tests as well as recent evidence showing early detection of asymptomatic people can help slow the spread of the CCP virus in the community.

Household members of confirmed patients as well as any other contacts will be tested for the virus as of March 31, Kunkel said.

Officials are also recommending the following groups get tested, even if they’re not showing symptoms: people who live in nursing homes and people in other settings where groups gather.

As many as one in four patients with the CCP virus will never show symptoms, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently confirmed, agency director Robert Redfield said this week. Those individuals “do contribute to transmission,” he said. The new information has led top officials to mull advising all Americans to wear masks when leaving home.

Anyone showing symptoms of the new disease, which include fever, cough, and fatigue, should get tested, Kunkel said at the press conference.

Testing in the state is free so far.

Thirty-five new patients were detected overnight, taking the total in the state to 315. Only two of those patients required hospitalization, bringing the total number of patients to 24.

One more patient died, the fifth in the state.

Scanning electron microscope image shows of CCP virus (round blue objects), the virus that causes COVID-19, emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. (NIAID-RML)

Rate of Doubling Slowed

David Scrase, human services secretary, said the doubling rate, or the rate at which cases double, has slowed from every two days to every 3.2 days as of March 25 and is moving toward every four days.

The social distancing measures ordered by officials has contributed to the slowdown, Scrase said.

“The more we can separate ourselves, the less opportunities every New Mexican has to get the virus from everyone else, the longer the doubling time will get,” Scrase said.

“Lengthening that doubling time continuously allows us to go over the peak and back down and not have new cases.”

Modeling currently indicates 250,000 to 1.25 million people will become infected, state officials said on Tuesday.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham ordered state residents on March 23 to stay at home except for essential trips and all businesses labeled non-essential to close. Schools in the state were ordered closed earlier in the month. The order was extended through the end of April in the latest press briefing.

Epoch Times Photo
Trucks get refueled at a rest stop providing essential food and hygiene services to truckers who continue to work amid the CCP virus outbreak, in Las Vegas, New Mexico, on March 23, 2020. (Andrew Hay/Reuters)

Virus Spread, Prevention

The new virus is believed “to spread mainly from person-to-person between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

“These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Most patients who contract the illness show no, mild, or moderate symptoms and don’t require hospitalization. The overwhelming majority of patients recover through rest, supportive care, and symptom treatment. About one percent of patients die from the illness, according to current national figures.

Preventative measures include staying at least 6 feet from other people, wearing a mask and gloves when leaving home, and frequently washing hands, especially before eating or after going out.

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber