The beyond-nightmarish COVID-19 numbers Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and state medical officials had warned about for weeks may be coming to fruition.
New Mexico experienced another coronavirus explosion Tuesday, setting a new high in cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
The state reported 2,112 virus cases, 28 deaths and 754 COVID-19 hospitalizations within a health care system officials have said is stretched to the breaking point.
Among the deaths was a preteen Bernalillo County boy and a Santa Fe County woman in her 80s. New Mexico’s previous high in deaths was set just a few days before, Friday, with 22.
Its previous high for cases in a single day was 1,752 on Thursday.
The state this week unveiled a new way to count hospitalizations, with Monday’s count at 738. Tuesday’s number was higher by 16.
Officials for the state’s largest medical systems have warned for the past several weeks that uncontrolled spread could mean disaster for hospitals and the people who work in them, in part because the neighboring states of Texas, Arizona and Colorado also are dealing with serious outbreaks — limiting the ability to transfer patients from crowded New Mexico hospitals.
During a Monday news conference, executives at some of the state’s largest health systems lauded a willingness to work together to help patients, but they noted the picture looked bleak if cases counts did not start to fall.
“There’s been … tremendous collaboration between the three systems to create capacity, and we’re in contact with each other every day to know where that capacity exists within these systems,” said Rohini McKee of UNM Health. “But hospitals across the state still “have have a huge problem with staffing.”
McKee also noted University of New Mexico Hospital and Presbyterian Healthcare Services have accepted a “large number of traveling nurses.”
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham instituted a two-week “reset” on restrictive health orders in hopes of bringing the numbers down, but Tuesday’s totals were a stark reminder of how widespread the virus has become in the state.
“This is exactly the reason the state had to ‘reset’ with the newest public health order that went into effect on Monday,” Department of Health spokeswoman Marisa Maez wrote in an email. “We hope to see a decrease in the number of cases eventually, but this will take time to reflect in our daily COVID counts.”
Lujan Grisham was more direct, taking to Facebook and Twitter to implore New Mexicans to heed the state’s health order.
“I will say it again: This is an emergency. Shelter in place,” Lujan Grisham wrote. “The virus is everywhere. Don’t go out. Don’t go shopping. Don’t take extra errands. Don’t go see friends. Don’t infect your loved ones. Don’t end up in a hospital.”
Overall, the state has reported 67,559 cases and 1,264 deaths since March.
Santa Fe County also set a new high for cases with 141, eight more than Nov. 12. Bernalillo County reported 615, while Doña Ana County had 338.
Overall, five counties had case counts of more than 100, while Lea County had 97 and Valencia County recorded 87.
Eight prisons reported at least one case, with four coming from the Penitentiary of New Mexico near Santa Fe, and the death of an inmate in his 70s from the Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Valencia County.
Two deaths of the state’s 28 deaths involved patients in long-term care facilities, which brought the number in that category to 362.
Brookdale Santa Fe reported four new patient cases to increase its total to nine, along with 10 staff members. There are now 2,082 coronavirus cases involving long-term care patients, and 1,700 employees.
On Nov. 9, those figures stood at 1,732 patients and 1,399 staff members.
In its daily report, the Department of Health said 106 facilities had reported at least one virus case among residents or staff in the previous 28 days.