ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Experts from the University of New Mexico Health, Presbyterian, Lovelace Health System, and Christus St. Vincent held a remote discussion to provide an update on COVID-19 hospitalization rates, trends, as well as the latest evidence.

UNM Hospital Chief Quality and Safety Officer Dr. Rohini McKee, Presbyterian Healthcare Services Medical Director Dr. Denise Gonzales, Lovelace Chief Medical Officer Dr. Vesta Sandoval, and Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center Medical Officer Dr. David Gonzales took part in the conversation.

New Mexico hospitals are seeing a big drop in COVID patients, the lowest numbers since at least October. Officials talked about that and the new CDC guidelines allowing vaccinated people to gather without masks.

New Mexico hospital officials said the state has a long way to go to reach herd immunity but will be evaluating the new CDC guidelines as of Tuesday. To evaluate if they’ll make any changes in their facilities.

“We just need to keep in mind that with variants present there still is concern and still evaluating fully how that’s going to impact what we do in the future as a state,” said Dr. Vesta Sandoval, the Lovelace Chief Medical Officer.

The CDC’s new guidelines allow fully vaccinated people to be indoors with other vaccinated people and they don’t have to wear a mask or social distance. Each hospital said they’re continuing to see a significant decrease in the amount of COVID patients. However, all of their facilities remain full. One factor to that is this is usually the busy time of the year for hospitals.

“We are still very full, ICU is at capacity and our progressive care beds or the regular floor beds are still above capacity and think it is because we are catching up on a lot of the care that has been deferred during the public health crisis,” said Dr. Rohini Mckee, the UNMH Chief Quality, Safety Officer.

The hospitals said the vaccines are the main cause of fewer hospitalizations and death. They do warn we are not out of the woods and it is a race to get as many people vaccinated as possible. Presbyterian Hospital said their hub near Balloon Fiesta Park is now vaccinating about 500 people a day. But with more supply, they have the capacity to vaccinate up to 2,000 people a day.

Christus St. Vincent said they gave out more than 1,200 Johnson & Johnson vaccines over the weekend and 90% of those were to people 75 years or older.