NMDOH: COVID-19 case counts have plateaued, hospitals still strained

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In a COVID-19 update Wednesday, state officials said the case counts aren’t growing – but they’re not decreasing either.

The New Mexico Department of Health said there hasn’t been much relief for hospital staff. Beds are still full and health officials said New Mexico is still on the verge of crisis levels of care.

Dr. David Scrase, acting secretary for the NMDOH, said hospital workers are exhausted, frustrated and working extra shifts. In addition to that, there is still a nursing shortage nationwide.

Data shows most of the COVID-related hospitalizations are among those who are not vaccinated. About 14% of hospitalizations are those who are vaccinated.

The current public health order is set to expire at the end of next week.

"What we really need to figure out is longer-term solutions to manage this pandemic," Dr. Scrase said. "Things we can live with for a year or two or three rather than flicking the on and off switch for the mandates. I would love it. The last thing is we have a mask mandate for indoors, but, you know, it’s not like everyone is doing that, so I’m not sure additional mandates would add that much when we don’t have New Mexicans following the most scientifically proven basic things that every individual can do – short of the vaccine."

More than 71% of adult New Mexicans are now fully vaccinated. Health experts said they are also expanding eligibility for booster shots. According to the NMDOH, those who are 18+ with underlying medical conditions are now eligible, as well as those 18+ in high-risk settings.