ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The number of New Mexicans hospitalized with COVID-19 more than doubled in the last month and numbers show most of them are unvaccinated. Presbyterian Hospital, Lovelace Hospital and UNM Hospital said they’re all seeing an increase in COVID-19 patients but the numbers are still far from what they once were.
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“In terms of a percentage increase, it is significant. In terms of an absolute number it does not, it’s not as much as we saw last winter,” said Dr. Rohini Mckee, Chief Quality and Safety Officer at UNMH.
UNMH said it has 22 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, which is up from the teens in early July. Seven of the 22 patients are in the ICU. Still, COVID-19 patients make up less than 5% of patients at the hospital. Most of its COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated.
“Over 90% of them are not vaccinated. Again, that number should be taken with a grain of salt because we have 22 patients who are hospitalized with COVID right now. But that is consistent with nationwide data where 99% of patients across the country who are hospitalized with COVID are not vaccinated,” said Dr. Mckee.
She said the hospital’s ICUs and progressive care units have been full for months, mostly with non-COVID patients with trauma, strokes, or who may have had to delay care because of the pandemic. But as the more contagious delta variant spreads, she said the hospital is prepared to make more room in case of a surge.
“Even though we have a very good plan in place and as we said we can look to other areas that are normally reserved for other kinds of patient care and convert them into COVID care units, we are not starting a point where we have a lot of capacity in the system,” said Dr. Mckee. “It’s critically important that we recognize this time around we have a weapon that we can use against this virus. And that is very effective and safe vaccines. And so, the best way to deal with this surge is to not have it in the first place. And we can only do that if people will go out and get vaccinated.”
“We are currently seeing an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations. In the last 10 days, we went from seven to 24 patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Most of our critically ill patients in the intensive care unit are unvaccinated. We continue to encourage the community to get vaccinated, wear a mask and practice social distancing to help reduce the spread of COVID-19,” said Whitney Marquez, communications manager of Lovelace Health System, in an emailed statement.
“We’re seeing an increase in hospitalizations. Around this time last month we had between 30 and 35 patients with COVID-19 in our hospitals statewide, today we’re at 56. We don’t track vaccinated versus unvaccinated as that is data that the state holds so any requests on comparing those two would need to go to NMDOH,” said Melanie Mozes, director of communications of Presbyterian Healthcare Services, in an emailed statement.
According to new state data, about 93% of COVID hospitalizations from the beginning of February to this week were of unvaccinated New Mexicans. Data on if people who were vaccinated and hospitalized had underlying health conditions are not provided. The state is also reporting from February first to this week, 98% of COVID-19 related deaths were among unvaccinated people.