Local doctors warn of rising COVID hospitalizations for unvaccinated, kids

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – As the delta variant causes a surge in COVID-19 cases, the number of hospitalizations is quickly on the rise. Local doctors are worried they soon will be stretched thin, again. Albuquerque doctors said the virus is now targeting a certain group of people and it now includes kids.

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“We really don’t want to have further surging, increased number of patients in our hospitals,” said the Lovelace Chief Medical Director, Dr. Vesta Sandoval. TriCore Labs and metro-area hospitals are uniting to beg people to get the COVID vaccine.

“In Presbyterian hospitals statewide, we’re experiencing a doubling of cases each week,” said the Medical Director of Presbyterian, Dr. Denise Gonzales. “Three weeks ago we had about 22 patients, last week about 45 and this week, we nearly have 90 patients hospitalized with COVID.”

New Mexico went from having 190 people in the hospital due to COVID to 250 in just one day.

Doctors said when the pandemic first hit, older people and those with underlying conditions were more commonly hospitalized but the virus is now targeting a different group of people. “Evidence shows that COVID-19 is now really a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” said Dr. Gonzales.

Doctors said about 93% of their COVID patients are unvaccinated and because people younger than 12 years old aren’t eligible for the vaccine, hospitals are seeing more kids being admitted for COVID. “We are seeing a rise in pediatric cases but the number is still small,” said Dr. Rohini McKee with UNMH. “What we’re seeing so far are similar symptoms to what we’re seeing in adults.”

Local hospitals said they’ve been busy with non-COVID patients who had delayed treatments last year. They worry another coronavirus surge could put them over the top. “Vaccines are safe, they’re effective and we can prevent an increased number of deaths from COVID-19,” said Dr. Sandoval. “There is still time.”

According to data from the New Mexico Department of Health, Hispanics, Native Americans and people 35 years and older are among those more likely to be hospitalized. The state’s top doctor, Dr. David Scrase, will be giving an update on hospitalizations soon.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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