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Justin Schatz is The Paper's daily news reporter. He has reported on New Mexico for KRQE News, Searchlight NM and the Santa Fe Reporter.

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The rising number of Delta variant cases, coupled with state and private entities mandating employees to either receive their vaccine or undergo testing, has significantly increased the time it takes to receive your COVID test results in New Mexico.

“We’ve heard anecdotally of increased testing demand due to the Delta variant and mandated weekly testing of unvaccinated employees that will continue to have an impact on testing capacity and turnaround time for results,” said New Mexico Department of Health Media Manager David Morgan. “In the long run, though, increased testing will help control and limit spread of the virus.”

Hospitals across the U.S. and New Mexico have reported that they are operating above capacity and are short on beds. Some states, most notably Arkansas and Texas, are in a desperate search for hospital space and have resorted to flying patients to other states that have available space.

The surge in Delta cases has also motivated state governments to reinstate mask requirements for public areas. Governor Lujan Grisham recently announced that the mask mandate has returned. Private companies are also taking steps to limit the spread of the virus. PNM is now requiring their employees to be vaccinated or undergo a weekly COVID testing before entering a PNM workspace.

The New Mexico Department of Health has also increased its efforts to encourage residents to get tested if they have displayed any symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID. According to the DOH, symptoms include cough, fever and shortness of breath.

According to a press release by the Governor’s Office, New Mexico has the lowest number of per-capita hospital beds in the nation. The governor’s proactive approach to the continued surge in Delta cases is intended to mitigate the state’s limited medical capacity. Currents estimate project as many as 1,000 new cases per day just in southern New Mexico.  

Curative, the biotechnology company running COVID testing at Albuquerque’s Balloon Fiesta Park, has posted on their website that the high volume of tests may delay results by “two days or more days after receipt at lab.”

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