ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Health officials from two of New Mexico’s most prominent health care systems, University of New Mexico Hospital and Presbyterian offered updates this morning about the ongoing crisis standards of care (CSC) status in their facilities. UNMH and Presbyterian are both continuing to run over capacity at their Albuquerque hospitals with patient populations over around 120% at Presbyterian and around 140% at UNMH.

Presbyterian’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jason Mitchell said Tuesday about 220 COVID-19 patients are in their Albuquerque hospital system, representing about 28% of the total hospital patient population. That 28% is up from about 20% nearly two weeks ago. Dr. Mitchell said of the COVID patient hospitalized, about 85% were not vaccinated against the virus.

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UNMH and Presbyterian made the CSC declaration nearly three weeks ago, acknowledging unrelenting volumes of sick patients in their facilities, exacerbated by a continued high number of new COVID-19 cases incoming into the state’s health system. The CSC status in part allows for hospitals to delay non-medically necessary procedures, as well as level-load patients by transferring them across hospitals around the state and region. Presbyterian and UNMH represents both say they haven’t deallocated or rationed hospital care to any patients yet.

While discussion of the new COVID-19 variant “Omicron” has dominated the news cycle over the last week, UNMH and Presbyterian officials say there is no information to suggest the variant is in New Mexico yet. They also highlighted while scientists are still working to figure out if the variant is truly more infectious or potentially vaccine resistant, New Mexico continues to deal with a high-volume of COVID patients who are nearly almost all infected with the Delta variant.

“In New Mexico and in the United States, what’s causing illness, what’s causing suffering, what’s causing hospitalizations and what’s causing death is the Delta variant,” Dr. Mitchell said. “That’s what’s happening today and will be tomorrow and for many weeks to come and we know exactly what to do to prevent the Delta variant, and that’s to get the vaccine, the vaccine is highly effective against Delta.”

On Monday, November 29, New Mexico reported 4,991 new COVID-19 cases and 45 additional deaths over the five-day stretch between the Thanksgiving holiday and Monday. On Monday, the state reported 572 people hospitalized. At the last hospital news conference on November 11, Dr. Jason Mitchell of Presbyterian predicted Dr. Mitchell said projections indicate almost 700 people hospitalized in the state with COVID-19 around the first week of December.

“For us, the challenge is we’re continuing to see COVID hospitalizations climb,” Dr. Mitchell. “Influenza is beginning to spread and we’re going to see more influenza, and then the general degree of illness for other things has now abated, we’re seeing patients more significantly ill from a variety of other diseases, illnesses and chronic illnesses.”