Albuquerque hospitals face surge in virus cases

Hospitals in Albuquerque, New Mexico, say they are seeing the largest number of coronavirus patients since the pandemic began, and worry that their hospitals will become even more crowded with patients. (Oct. 26)

Video Transcript

JASON MITCHELL: Today we have 84 patients in our hospitals with COVID. 26 are in the ICU. So for us, this is the highest volumes that we've seen throughout this pandemic.

This is where the large hospitals are that mostly get transferred to for all reasons. And so we actually oftentimes have less capacity, because people transfer to us for heart attacks and strokes and all of these illnesses. And now, if we're generating a large number of COVID cases, we could get to a point where here in the Albuquerque area, we are overwhelmed, but there could still be a capacity in rural hospitals. And we're beginning to work with some of those hospitals to talk about reverse transfers

DAVID PITCHER: The demographics of this surge are a little bit different this time around, in that we tend to be seeing a surge of cases that represent the younger age population that do not have the same degree of demands on critical care resources. So that's actually somewhat positive this time around.

JASON MITCHELL: And so we've got a younger population that may not be as sick and also may be asymptomatic. And with a positive test rate up, that means we also have a lot of spread we're not aware of. And so what that leads to is significant spread in the community with us not all being aware. And eventually, that gets into more vulnerable populations.

And so you can get a lot of spread, and all of a sudden you see a spike in very vulnerable populations and a lot of sickness very, very quickly. And so that's my biggest concern.