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Santa Fe – Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has a dire message for New Mexicans: New Mexico is in the “worst possible situation to be in.”
“The pandemic is getting worse”
Among the startling statistics the governor shared in her weekly update:
- New Mexico saw a 260% increase in COVID-related deaths over the past two weeks
- Hospitalizations have increased 95% over the past week
- 59 people have been added to ventilators
- 1-in-6 of those hospitalized with COVID are dying in New Mexico
- New Mexico is averaging 13 deaths per day-almost ten times the average from when the pandemic first began
Since the outbreak began the state has completed 1.3 million tests and identified 51,110 positive tests for the virus. “Many more” are likely positive and spreading the virus undetected. For every person who tests positive, an additional 3.1 are likely infected says Dr. Scrase, secretary of the Human Services Department and the governor’s chief COVID advisor.
“Running out of hospital beds”
Faced with a 95 percent increase in hospitalizations over the past week, New Mexico’s hospitals are out of staff and are running out of beds, say state officials. “Every New Mexicans greatest concern over the next month should be what’s going on in the hospitals,” says Lujan Grisham.
Equally concerning, hospitals in every corner of the state are in short supply and supplies required to treat COVID patients. “All of our surrounding states are facing the same issues we are,” Dr. Scrase pointed out in arguing for people to limit travel and exposure.
Dr. Scrase says that New Mexico’s hospitals are now in full emergency operations and headed for crisis standard care in next two weeks as estimates now predict 798 and 1700 new cases per day.
Local hospitals are even recruiting for nurses from as far away as Canada to assist. “We’re in dire need of nurses,” Scrase says. “We have 400 traveling nurses on contract in the state due to the shortage [locally].”
“The more you travel the higher your risk is”
Dr. Scrase pointed to one point of good news in the data. During the state’s unseasonably early winter weather events last week, the state found fewer cases and hospitalizations. He attributes the drop to persons staying home and limiting travel. That, Dr. Scrase says, is the key to limiting the spread.
Closures and restrictions
With the Thanksgiving holiday just over two weeks away, the governor warned New Mexico to “rethink your holiday plans… It is too late [to reverse the trends] for November. Too many New Mexicans will lose their lives in November. Its too late to stop that.”
“For every mom expecting a child home, we don’t have enough beds and staff… if the cases continue to go up. It’s impossible,” added the governor.
Looking ahead to future closures or restrictions, the governor said she is prepared to issue public health orders as restrictive as those imposed in the early days of the outbreak. She warned that she is looking at options to issue new public health orders to “make it very clear to every single business who has picked one of the options for essential businesses, but ignored others.”
The governor forecasted that the state will be dealing with the virus and necessary public health orders “for at least a year.”
“It still believe that we can turn this around and I want us to all do this together,” she concluded.