Holiday travel feeds Omicron surge

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Health leaders in Albuquerque are voicing concerns about a surge in Omicron cases this week and next, following holiday travel.

"We don’t expect to see the real effects of Omicron for the next two weeks,” said Dr. Irene Agostini, the chief medical officer at UNM Hospital. “So we’re a little late compared to the rest of the country, or certainly the east coast which is still seeing surging numbers."

Leaders say Omicron is extremely infectious — much more so than the Delta variant. If you’re fully vaccinated with a booster shot, it’s likely that you won’t need hospitalization.

"If you’re not vaccinated your risk of being in the hospital and your risk of dying from Covid is much much much higher,” said Agostini.

She says that UNM Hospital isn’t quite as packed as it was this time last year, but numbers have started going up or plateauing in the last two weeks.

Dr. Alex Cvijanovich, the president of the New Mexico Pediatric Society, says unfortunately a growing number of those hospitalized are children, and that number could continue to rise.

"The ones under the age of five can’t get immunized and we don’t know yet when they will be able to get immunized,” said Cvijanovich. “I’m hoping in the spring, but that still leaves a fair bit of time when they’re left vulnerable."

She believes things could get worse for New Mexican children before they get better.

"I’m glad they’re back in school but that provides for more exchange of germs and then bringing germs home to younger siblings who aren’t vaccinated,” said Cvijanovich. "I think we need to take advantage of what we have, the tools we have to try to protect our children and our caregivers and our health care system in this state."

Health leaders stand by the fact that getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself, your family, and the state’s health care workers.