New Mexico health officials make dire predictions as COVID-19 cases surge

Coronavirus New Mexico

NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – A grim forecast for COVID-19 in New Mexico as state health officials are projecting more than a dozen deaths a day for weeks, as infections continue, hospitals are filling up and health care staff is running thin. This is what the state has been warning for weeks, that they say is coming true. Over the next week, the state is expecting to run out of ICU beds by mid-next week.

“November…done. Too many deaths, too many hospitalizations, the system, overwhelmed. Not enough people to be able to manage the number of hospitalizations, that’s a fact,” said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in a Thursday COVID-19 update with state health officials.

The state health capacity is up 95% from two weeks ago. Despite that, the governor did not announce any changes to the public health order for a couple of reasons. One, she says she’s waiting to see more data from the state’s enforcement ‘crackdown’ but the other reason mentioned is that another total shutdown would be too hard on the state economy.

New Mexico’s current test positivity rate is nearing 8%, well above the state’s goal of below 5%. New Mexico has seen around a week of daily case counts near over 1,000. Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase says that will likely continue for a few weeks. He says hospitals across the state are preparing for an ‘Italy-like’ scenario, one of the hardest-hit countries at the beginning of the pandemic.

“When I talk to hospital leaders and they talk about preparing for Italy, they’re telling me about going through every single room in every one of their facilities and evaluating it immediately to see if it can be converted into a hospital bed,” said Scrase.

There’s one forecast that has Dr. Scrase concerned. “We are expecting at least 13 or more deaths over the next two weeks each day and as you know, I just added this, 23 deaths today,” said Scrase.

The field hospitals the state built are now being evaluated as secondary medical shelters. The state still isn’t sure if they’ll use those facilities for an expected surge in COVID-19 patients. The governor says she also expects the next public health order to crack down on businesses that are violating the health order.

The number of healthcare workers is also running thin, but the state is working to bring in hundreds of traveling nurses and even asking retired or inactive healthcare workers for help. The governor again emphasized Thursday the importance of social distancing and wearing a mask, even getting used to wearing one inside your own home.

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