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Tierna Unruh-Enos is the managing editor and associate publisher at The Paper.

coronavirus
This transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the U.S. Virus particles are shown emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. The spikes on the outer edge of the virus particles give coronaviruses their name, crown-like. Image captured and colorized at NIAID's Rocky Mountain Laboratories (RML) in Hamilton, Montana. Credit: NIAID

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The New Mexico Department of Health on Wednesday announced the state’s first case of the B117 coronavirus variant. A male in his ’60s has been identified with the variant; he is associated with travel to the United Kingdom in December, 2020. He is currently recovering from very mild symptoms; no hospitalization was required. To this point the DOH has identified no close contacts of anyone with the man within New Mexico.

The B117 coronavirus variant first emerged in the UK in September, 2020. It has since spread to multiple countries and several U.S. states. Current scientific evidence suggests that the new variant is more contagious than the previous one. There is no evidence that the variant has an impact on the severity of COVID-19 cases, nor on current vaccine effectiveness. For additional information please visit the Center for Disease Control’s website on COVID-19 variants.

UNM Pit Named As Mass Vaccination Location Site

While the UNM Pit has remained empty of sports fans during the pandemic, it will again begin serving the public. The Pit will be transformed into a mass vaccination site for UNM Health officials to administer COVID-19 vaccines to the public.

“The University for New Mexico has been an essential partner to our communities in battling the COVID-19 pandemic, and welcomes any opportunity to contribute to and serve them,” said UNM President Garnett S. Stokes, Ph.D. “It is exciting to feel such hope after the past several months.”

Officials say The Pit is a perfect location for mass vaccines because a large space is needed to keep people socially distant and keep lines moving quickly.

Vaccinations at The Pit will begin Wednesday, Jan. 20. UNM officials believe they’ll be able to vaccinate 3,000 people per day at the facility. To receive a vaccination, you must register at the New Mexico Department of Health coronavirus vaccine site vaccinenm.org. So far the health system has administered more than 10,000 Pfizer doses to health care workers and first responders. This includes a second booster dose that is required for full immunization.

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