NM hospitals on pace to hit crisis levels of care within next week

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico hospitals are on pace to hit crisis levels of care within the next week.

In a COVID-19 update Wednesday, state health officials said hospitals are full and some are exceeding capacity. There are 50 New Mexicans on an ICU waiting list, waiting for a hospital bed.

On top of that, officials are predicting a 20% increase in hospitalizations over the next two weeks.

"I think we have to meet people where they are," said Dr. Laura Parajon with the New Mexico Department of Health. "We do have a history of mistrust, racism and trauma in our health care system. A part of it is up to us to build up trust, to reach that community, and that’s part of what we’re trying to do at the Department of Health – reaching out with community health workers to give them the facts they need to make that personal decision, that community decision. That’s where we are looking toward our community in how we can all work together. Like you said, this isn’t going away."

There are a couple of reasons why New Mexico hospitals are already feeling the strain. State health officials said one reason is staffing – there is a nationwide nursing shortage.

In addition, hospitals were already full due to patients who delayed care over the last year and a half.

Health officials said they are projecting 1,300 to 1,500 COVID-19 cases a day by the end of August. Virtually all of the new cases in New Mexico are the Delta variant, and it is a pandemic of the unvaccinated.

According the NMDOH, a majority of the cases, hospitalizations and deaths are among the unvaccinated. However, as the state collects more data, officials noted that there have been more COVID-19 cases in people who are vaccinated, too.

From February to August, nearly 90% of all COVID-19 cases were among the unvaccinated. In the last month, around 23% of COVID-19 cases were among the vaccinated.

Health officials said it’s still important to note that the vaccine is still highly effective in preventing serious illness, hospitalization and deaths. They are urging New Mexicans to please get vaccinated.

There’s been a huge surge of vaccinations over the last month – almost a 40% increase from July to August.