By the end of August, New Mexico could see 1,000 COVID-19 cases daily

[anvplayer video=”5049562″ station=”998127″]

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — During a COVID-19 update Wednesday, state health officials said case counts this week are ten times higher than the first week of July.

At this point, almost all of the COVID-19 cases in the state are a result of the Delta variant – which is more than two times as contagious as the previous strains.

"What’s happened in unvaccinated populations is that these variants emerge because there’s no host defense, there’s no immune reaction and viruses mutate anyway," said Dr. David Scrase, the state’s Human Services Department secretary. "It spreads to more people. So I think we will beat it some day. But I also think of the David Scrase of some state health department in 1920, declaring that we had beaten the Spanish flu, the great influenza, and now here we all are, a hundred years later, getting flu shots every year."

State health officials said they expect COVID cases to continue to increase over the next few weeks. Modeling by Los Alamos National Lab predicts that New Mexico will be at 1,000 daily cases by the end of August.

On top of that, health officials said there is a shortage of nurses, specifically travel nurses, to pull from. They are encouraging people to get vaccinated, not only to keep New Mexicans safe, but to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed.

Those who are fully vaccinated are less likely to catch the virus. If those who are vaccinated do catch the virus, the vaccine will decrease their chances of serious illness or hospitalization.

Scrase said hospital officials are meeting about capacity limits weekly, measuring how close the state is to crisis levels of care.

"We brought together the state as a single delivery system," Scrase said. "All of that is still running behind the scenes. I mean sometimes the burner has been turned down low, but I can tell you, the burner is on high right now."