SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) issued a public health emergency order on Thursday. Officials said there is a notable strain on the healthcare system at this time.

NMDOH declared an emergency order due to the spike in pediatric cases and hospitalizations of respiratory viruses.

One of these viruses is the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which is known to affect small children and babies. RSV is spread through droplets produced by coughing and sneezing.

“We expand our social networks during the holidays, which is an important part of nurturing ourselves as human beings living in a complex world. However, at the same time we create more opportunities for respiratory viruses to spread,” said Acting Department of Health Secretary David Scrase, “It’s important to take steps to reduce the risk for respiratory viruses by practicing the good health and hygiene habits we’ve learned over the past few years as New Mexico nurses, doctors and hospital staff are facing another surge.” 

The order was issued because hospitals and emergency rooms are being strained as they are seeing a surge in respiratory viruses.

“In light of the increasing numbers of children being hospitalized with RSV, and the number of children presenting to the Emergency Departments statewide, it is really important at this time to take these precautions recommended by the New Mexico Department of Health, especially not exposing our children to others that are currently experiencing respiratory symptoms,” said CHRISTUS St. Vincent Chief Medical Officer David Gonzales.

New Mexico saw RSV cases begin to increase in October and November alongside other respiratory illnesses like COVID-19 and influenza.

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The state recommends the following steps to slow the spread of illnesses.

  • Keep up with flu and COVID-19 vaccinations
  • Stay home if you or your family members are sick
  • Wash hands frequently
  • Keep common, high-touch areas clean
  • Call your healthcare provider if your child needs medical attention; only visit hospitals if there is a serious emergency such as severe illness or troubles breathing