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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Top health officials warned Wednesday that New Mexico is about a week away from rationing health care as COVID-19 infections continue to climb.

State Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase said during a briefing that the state is tracking along with its worst-case projections when it comes to spread of the virus and resulting hospitalizations. He pointed to an increase of more than 20 percent in pandemic patients needing care in just the past day.

“We’re going to have to choose who gets care and who doesn’t get care,” he said, “and we don’t want to get to that point.”

It was December 2020 when New Mexico was last at the brink of having to ration care.

Scrase said the biggest constraint right now is the shortage of nurses and other health care workers. While federal aid is available to help bring in traveling nurses, he said that pool of workers is in high demand as states across the country are feeling the crunch.

State officials estimated that New Mexico would have to increase the percentage of vaccinated adults by about 18 percent to avert the coming hospital crisis. So far, more than two-thirds of New Mexicans over the age of 18 are fully vaccinated, marking one of the higher rates in the country.

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