NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – It’s another record-breaking day for COVID-19 cases in New Mexico. Hospitalizations have more than tripled from just one month ago. Hospital beds are near capacity, leaving doctors pleading to the public to stop the spread.
Doctors at New Mexico’s largest hospitals said the worst is yet to come in the state. “I think what’s most important for everybody to recognize is this pandemic is not getting better at this point,” Dr. Jason Mitchell at Presbyterian Hospital said.
Mitchell said they are already well above normal capacity and close to full. They are bringing in staff from outside the state and opening up hospital units in places where they normally wouldn’t do so. “When we see hospitals this full, we are talking about folks who got sick two to three weeks ago,” Mitchell said. “Our rates have increased since then significantly so we know two to three weeks from now, it will be a whole lot worse.”
Presbyterian said they have 189 COVID-19 patients statewide with 39 in the ICU. At Lovelace, 32% of their beds are being used to care for COVID patients. “For some people, if it is not touching their lives, it may be difficult for them to understand the severity of this disease,” Dr. Vesta Sandoval at Lovelace said.
While hospitals fill up, doctors said they have no intention of reducing access to care for things like cancer or other urgent medical conditions, but they said non-urgent, elective procedures are being postponed. “I don’t think it’s an attempt to create fear, though certainly, the situation is serious and we’re doing all that we can to deal with it,” Dr. David Pitcher at UNM Health System said.
They said while a vaccine may be in the works, peoples’ behavior needs to change now to stop from overwhelming the system here in New Mexico. “Everyone should be very concerned about their actions each day and doing their best every single day to prevent spread of COVID,” Mitchell said.
The doctors said they are also concerned about the Thanksgiving holiday, saying the safest way to celebrate is not seeing anyone in person this holiday season.