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NM reports 9 COVID deaths, new 7-day record

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Presbyterian Medical staffers process patients at the San Mateo Covid – 19 drive-thru facility earlier this month. New Mexico has seen a spike in cases in the last few weeks . (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico on Monday set another record for its seven-day average of confirmed coronavirus cases, and officials at Albuquerque hospitals said they are already in the throes of a surge.

“If we continue the current trend we have in our state for another month, we won’t have enough health care workers, we won’t have enough hospital beds,” said Dr. Jason Mitchell, the chief medical officer at Presbyterian Healthcare Services. “There isn’t enough staff anywhere that will be able to get us out of that.”

State officials reported nine deaths on Monday, bringing the statewide toll to 976. Those who died ranged in age from their 30s, a woman in Bernalillo County, to their 90s, men in Bernalillo and Sandoval counties. Most were hospitalized and had underlying conditions, a risk factor for the disease.

For the second day in a row, Doña Ana County had the highest number of new cases in the state at 194. Bernalillo was next with 173, followed by 59 in Luna County, 45 in Curry County and 39 new cases in Chaves County. Santa Fe County posted 42 new cases.

During a Zoom meeting with local media on Monday, top medical officers at area hospitals made a plea to the public to continue to socially distance, wear masks and take other safety measures to try to curb the spread of disease.

There were 289 COVID patients hospitalized throughout New Mexico on Monday, up two from the day before.

Eighty-four of those patients were at Presbyterian hospitals. That’s up from a previous peak of 77 COVID patients in May, Mitchell said.

“This is the highest volume we’ve seen during the pandemic,” Mitchell said. “Is it worse than it was? The answer is yes.”

The overall count of positive cases per day is a key metric being eyed by medical professionals. There were 723 new confirmed cases on Monday, which pushes the state’s seven-day average to 756 cases, a record high.

Mitchell said 900 cases per day could be a tipping point that would overly tax local health systems.

In the Monday conference call, doctors said there are some emerging trends that are good news.

Many COVID patients are younger than patients in the spring and summer, and they are not using up as much hospital resources as they were months ago, said Dr. David Pitcher, the executive physician for the University of New Mexico Health System.

Dr. Vesta Sandoval, the chief medical officer for the Lovelace Health System, said treatments are improving outcomes for the sick.

“But still, our best defense against this disease will be trying to keep each other from becoming infected,” Sandoval said.

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