NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – After two years with relatively non-existent RSV and flu seasons in New Mexico, state health leaders say every community across the state is now dealing with an earlier than normal spike. Affecting several metro-area hospitals, New Mexico’s Department of Health addressed the “triple threat” of respiratory viruses in a news conference Thursday.
The continued presence of COVID-19 is among the respiratory viruses health leaders are warning the public of this season, as the state is seeing an uptick in COVID-related hospitalizations. As of Thursday, 172 people were in New Mexico hospitals with COVID-19. However, only five patients are on ventilators.
Over the last four weeks, state reports indicate the total number of COVID-19 related hospitalizations in New Mexico has continued to increase. Between October 18 and 24, New Mexico charted 96 total COVID-19 hospitalizations, according to a state report. In the most recent report from November 8 to 14, New Mexico saw 134 total COVID-19 hospitalizations.
Meanwhile, more than 239-thousand New Mexicans have received this season’s updated, bivalent COVID-19 booster shot, according to state data. Roughly 1/3rd of those recipients are over the age of 65.
Free COVID-19 tests are still available by mail. The state has more information on signing up for free tests (up to five boxes per month) on its website, findatestnm.org
RSV & Flu
Continuing the trends discussed in a hospitals news conference earlier this week, UNMH’s Children’s Hospital said Thursday its pediatric facilities remain under pressure from a significant number of other respiratory viruses. UNM Children’s Hospital Associate Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anna Duran said Thursday the pediatric facilities were at 125% capacity of their 69 general beds and 20 ICU beds for kids.
Dr. Duran says the Children’s Hospital continues to fluctuate between roughly 105% and 130% capacity. This year, Duran says, the respiratory case spike came quicker than many years past.
“Historically, RSV had started usually mid-December,” Dr. Duran said. “We are about six-weeks before. It will peak around end of January and then really peter-off at the end of March.”
Warning of the upcoming holidays, Dr. Duran said UNMH Children’s Hospital is anticipating seeing more of a surge due to family and friends gathering together. Duran urged parents and kids who are ill to stay home this year.
“What that surge is going to look like is still in question, because we are very early to be in an RSV surge right now,” Duran said. “Predictions are [the season’s end] could be as late as March, I’m hoping its much sooner than that.”
State reports indicate a rise in “influenza-like illness” (ILI) related visits in New Mexico’s emergency departments. From October through November, a state report published November 14 indicates a rise from roughly 2% of hospital visits to roughly 7% of hospital visits being for influenza-like illnesses.
The impact of full pediatric facilities in Albuquerque ultimately affects the transfer of kids from smaller community hospitals in the more rural regions of New Mexico. Facilities in the metro-area more often are able to provide expanded levels of care.