Morgan Timms / Taos News

New Mexico is calling for more nurses as it experiences a shortage during a spike in SARS-CoV-2 infections this summer.

The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) is requesting anyone with an active medical license to volunteer in the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) as hospitals experience a surge in COVID-19 cases from the Delta variant.

The new form of SARS-CoV-2 has been reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to be two times more contagious than previous strains.

Hospitals are also currently experiencing increased delays in care and have postponed some non-urgent surgeries to deal with the new influx in infections, according to the NMDOH.

“Our modeling is predicting that New Mexico will see over 1,000 cases per day in the next several weeks,” said David R. Scrase, NMDOH Acting Cabinet Secretary.

In 2005, the MRC was started to ensure a group of health care professionals could be deployed in the case of a public health emergency. According to a NMDOH press release, the Medical Reserve Corp Program has filled over 139 requests for help throughout the state, deploying 2,750 volunteers who have logged over 278,797 hours for COVID response throughout the pandemic.

“People have stepped back from health care because it’s not sustainable,” said Scrase.

Scrase emphasized that healthcare workers have been under tremendous pressure during the pandemic, working long hours often with little time off.

“We are working with FEMA to see if we can get federal funding,” said Scrase.

He added that hiring traveling nurses is also an option, but a very costly one. “Because the rest of the country is on fire with COVID, the price for traveling nurses has gone up and up and up. In some instances at $200 per hour,” said Scrase.

“If there are any nurses in Taos that are willing to come back to work at the hospital, I’m sure the hospital would appreciate that,” said Scrase.

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