DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH NEWS
Use the state COVID hotline for non-emergencies and stay home after testing
The New Mexico Department of Health advises the public to seek emergency medical help if people are experiencing severe COVID-19 symptoms.
New Mexicans are calling the state’s COVID hotline (1-855-600-3453) looking for guidance from call center staff. The hotline is intended to be a resource for people with general questions about the disease, about COVID-19 testing and for those who are managing their illness well from home.
“People experiencing severe difficulty breathing or other symptoms that make it difficult to care for themselves at home should not wait for a consultation from the hotline,” said Dr. Chad Smelser, a DOH medical epidemiologist. “The call center staff have had a surge in calls that need to be re-directed to 911. It is imperative that anyone struggling with the disease seeks evaluation and care from a medical facility.”
The other urgent issue is the rapid spread of the disease, “More people are getting tested which is the first step to decreasing the case counts but we are receiving reports that after testing, some people aren’t taking the protective measures necessary to stop the spread,” Smelser said. “Some are going about their usual, daily lives until they receive their test results. If you are having symptoms or tested because of an exposure, you should assume that you are infectious and self-isolate even if your symptoms resolve. You can spread the virus without knowing you are positive and without having symptoms. The most powerful prevention tool is isolation and quarantine as early as possible to help reduce the spread of the disease.”
NMDOH is asking the public to support the state’s tracing response by self-identifying close contacts after receiving notice of a positive test and notifying them of their possible contact and the importance to quarantine and receive a test themselves. Anyone who spent 3 or more cumulative minutes within 6 feet of an infected person is considered a close contact and should quarantine at home for 14 days to avoid the risk of spreading the disease before it is recognized.