Health Officials Warn Hospitals May Have to Ration Care

DOH reports 770 new COVID-19 cases and five more deaths

According to New Mexico health officials, on its current trajectory, the state will see rising COVID-19 cases, with hospitals surging toward enacting crisis levels of care in which hospitals have to ration care.

New Mexico health officials in a news conference this afternoon shared a wealth of data reinforcing that rising cases and hospitalizations in the state are mostly among unvaccinated residents, with the state also tracking among those in the US with diminishing ICU capacity.

“New Mexico, as of this morning, our ICU beds are well over 100%,” Acting Health Secretary Dr. David Scrase said, noting that currently there are 50 people on waiting lists to be admitted to the Intensive Care Unit—an unprecedented situation. “It’s a very harsh and grim reality,” Scrase said. “It’s going to be very uncomfortable next two weeks for folks needing hospital care in New Mexico.”

The squeeze on hospitals comes as COVID-19 cases rise, compounded by existing patients with other health problems—some exacerbated by delayed care during earlier parts of the pandemic—along with staffing shortages among medical professionals, particularly nurses.

The entire state, minus Harding County, has high transmission rates, with five times more cases in the southeast region compared with the northwest, Scrase said. The southeast also has a less than 50% vaccination rate overall, compared with close to two-thirds of people vaccinated in the northwest.

Scrase urged those who have COVID-19 and qualify to seek out COVID-19 treatments, as outlined in the slide below, to mitigate severe illness.

And, of course, officials urged those New Mexicans who remain unvaccinated to seek out a vaccination, with Deputy Health Secretary Dr. Laura Parajón reminding residents that they remain eligible for a $100 vaccine incentive through Aug. 31.

Vaccination remains front and center, as the state’s rising cases, hospitalizations and deaths—spurred by the highly transmissible Delta variant—remain primarily among unvaccinated people, state Epidemiologist Dr. Christine Ross said. “The take-home message is we have a very, very highly effective countermeasure or tool to use to fight this pandemic,” Ross said.

Yet, while vaccinated people only account for 10.1% of cases, 7.9% of hospitalizations and 3.3% of deaths since Feb. 1, those percentages rise when evaluated over the last four weeks. As of Aug. 23, over a four-week period, 23.6% of cases were among people who were vaccinated, who also account for 12.3% hospitalizations and 15% of deaths.

Nonetheless, Ross reiterated, the current surge remains among unvaccinated people: “The case rate among unvaccinated people is quite worrisome to see…there is an exponential rise in the number of cases or infections. We have detected more [breakthrough] cases, but it does not compare to this steep incline [indicated in the slide below] we’re hoping that we’re going to get the message out and mobilize more people to seek out vaccination.”

New Mexico health officials today reported 770 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total so far to 227,636. DOH has designated 200,471 of those cases as recovered.

Bernalillo County had 235 new cases, followed by Lea County with 106 and Eddy County with 57. Santa Fe County had 18 new cases.

The state also announced five additional deaths; there have now been 4,488 fatalities.

As of today, 433 people are hospitalized with COVID-19.*

Currently, 76.4% of New Mexicans 18 years and older have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 66.9% are fully vaccinated. In the 12-17-year-old age group, 57.9% people have had at least one dose and 45% are fully inoculated. In Santa Fe County, among those 18 years and older, 87.7% have had at least one dose and 77.2% are fully vaccinated.

While rising cases and hospitalizations previously sparked economic shut-downs, Scrase said he believes the pandemic has now entered a phase in which individuals and communities, rather than government mandates, need to take the lead, and pointed to the Navajo Nation’s announcement on Sunday that it would require vaccination for employees, and the DOH’s own 88% vaccination rate among employees. “We may be in this for the long haul,” he said. “We can’t force absolute compliance with a shutdown for four or five years. I think this is...on individuals and communities. If other people have better ideas about how to mobilize the community, let me know.”

New cases

  • 235 new cases in Bernalillo County
  • 34 new cases in Chaves County
  • 4 new cases in Cibola County
  • 7 new cases in Colfax County
  • 32 new cases in Curry County
  • 2 new cases in De Baca County
  • 33 new cases in Doña Ana County
  • 57 new cases in Eddy County
  • 6 new cases in Grant County
  • 2 new cases in Guadalupe County
  • 2 new cases in Hidalgo County
  • 106 new cases in Lea County
  • 8 new cases in Lincoln County
  • 6 new cases in Los Alamos County
  • 4 new cases in Luna County
  • 34 new cases in McKinley County
  • 1 new case in Mora County
  • 15 new cases in Otero County
  • 4 new cases in Quay County
  • 7 new cases in Rio Arriba County
  • 12 new cases in Roosevelt County
  • 33 new cases in Sandoval County
  • 39 new cases in San Juan County
  • 5 new cases in San Miguel County
  • 18 new cases in Santa Fe County
  • 3 new cases in Sierra County
  • 3 new cases in Socorro County
  • 14 new cases in Taos County
  • 1 new case in Torrance County
  • 35 new cases in Valencia County
  • 1 new case among individuals held by federal agencies at the Otero County Processing Center
  • 7 new cases among individuals held by federal agencies at the Torrance County Detention Facility

New fatalities

  • A female in her 40s from Bernalillo County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A male in his 30s from Hidalgo County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A male in his 50s from Lea County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A male in his 30s from Otero County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions
  • A female in her 60s from Otero County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions

Congregate facilities

The Department of Health has identified at least one positive COVID-19 case in residents and/or staff in the past 28 days at the following facilities:

  • Advanced Health Care in Albuquerque
  • Avamere in Roswell
  • BeeHive Homes Portales
  • Bloomfield Nursing and Rehabilitation in Bloomfield
  • Canyon Transitional Rehabilitation Center in Albuquerque
  • Casa del Norte in Albuquerque
  • Casa Maria Health Care Center in Roswell
  • Clovis Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Clovis
  • Desert Springs Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Hobbs
  • Elmcroft of Quintessence in Albuquerque
  • Fairwinds Assisted Living in Rio Rancho
  • Good Life Senior Living and Memory Care in Artesia
  • Good Life Senior Living and Memory Care in Los Lunas
  • Good Life Senior Living in Hobbs
  • Good Life Senior Living in Ruidoso
  • Good Samaritan Society Las Cruces
  • Laguna Rainbow Care Center in Casa Blanca
  • Lakeview Christian Home in Carlsbad
  • Landmark at Desert Gardens in Hobbs
  • Las Palomas Center in Albuquerque
  • La Vida Llena Community in Albuquerque
  • Miners Colfax Medical Center in Raton
  • Mission Arch Center in Roswell
  • MorningStar Memory Care at North Ridge in Albuquerque
  • The Neighborhood in Rio Rancho Assisted Living in Rio Rancho
  • Odelia Healthcare (Camino Healthcare) in Albuquerque
  • Princeton Place in Albuquerque
  • The Rehabilitation Center of Albuquerque
  • The Rio at Las Estancias in Albuquerque
  • Santa Fe Care Center in Santa Fe
  • Silver Wings Assisted Living in Albuquerque
  • Skies Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Albuquerque
  • Sunset Villa Care Center in Roswell
  • Vida Encantada Nursing & Rehabilitation in Las Vegas
  • The Watermark at Cherry Hills in Albuquerque
  • White Sands Healthcare in Hobbs
  • The Woodmark at Uptown in Albuquerque

Statewide cases

County totals are subject to change upon further investigation and determination of residency of individuals positive for COVID-19.

  • Bernalillo County: 65,020
  • Catron County: 120
  • Chaves County: 10,277
  • Cibola County: 3,034
  • Colfax County: 901
  • Curry County: 6,070
  • De Baca County: 205
  • Doña Ana County: 26,562
  • Eddy County: 8,778
  • Grant County: 1,880
  • Guadalupe County: 530
  • Harding County: 13
  • Hidalgo County: 497
  • Lea County: 10,875
  • Lincoln County: 2,152
  • Los Alamos County: 611
  • Luna County: 3,556
  • McKinley County: 13,067
  • Mora County: 207
  • Otero County: 4,706
  • Quay County: 699
  • Rio Arriba County: 4,124
  • Roosevelt County: 2,334
  • Sandoval County: 13,499
  • San Juan County: 16,830
  • San Miguel County: 1,709
  • Santa Fe County: 11,466
  • Sierra County: 844
  • Socorro County: 1,419
  • Taos County: 1,936
  • Torrance County: 1,026
  • Union County: 273
  • Valencia County: 7,682

Cases among people being held by federal agencies

  • Cibola County Correctional Center: 455
  • Otero County Federal Prison Facility: 458
  • Otero County Processing Center: 484
  • Torrance County Detention Facility: 341

Cases among people being held by the New Mexico Department of Corrections

  • Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Valencia County: 303
  • Guadalupe County Correctional Facility: 255
  • Lea County Correctional Facility: 762
  • Northeast New Mexico Correctional Facility in Union County: 169
  • Northwest New Mexico Correctional Center in Cibola County: 130
  • Otero County Prison Facility: 473
  • Penitentiary of New Mexico in Santa Fe County: 218
  • Roswell Correctional Center: 229
  • Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility in Doña Ana County: 231
  • Springer Correctional Center in Colfax County: 151
  • Western New Mexico Correctional Facility in Cibola County: 75

*Per the health department, hospitalization figures include people who were tested elsewhere but are hospitalized in New Mexico, but don’t include people who were tested here but are hospitalized out of state.

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