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COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have declined in recent weeks and the University of New Mexico Children’s Hospital is under its licensed capacity for the first time in months.

The decline in respiratory illnesses is welcome news for hospitals. Rooms for children in New Mexico hospitals have been in high demand since late October due to a surge in COVID, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.

Dr. Anna Duran, chief associate medical officer of the UNM Children’s Hospital, said this week the hospital was operating at about 85% to 90% of its licensed capacity.

The hospital recently hosted a 14-member National Disaster Medical System team that was dispatched to help care for an influx of sick children.

“Things are definitely settling down,” Duran said. “From a capacity standpoint, it’s nice to have some breathing room.”

There were still hospitals throughout the state that had no available children’s beds on Thursday. But, overall, there were 126 various types of beds for children available in New Mexico, according to Health Department data.

Duran said hospital officials are monitoring human metapneumovirus, a common respiratory virus that is spreading in the state.

Meanwhile, COVID cases are also on the decline.

During the week ending Jan. 16, the New Mexico Department of Health reported 1,252 new COVID cases. During that same time, 73 people with COVID were admitted to hospitals throughout the state.

That marked a 47% decline in cases from the week ending Dec. 19. A total of 113 people with COVID were admitted to hospitals the week ending Dec. 19.

New Mexico on Thursday reported five more COVID-related deaths, pushing the statewide toll to 8,907 since the start of the pandemic.

“New Mexico is experiencing a downward trend in the number of cases as determined by laboratory test results following the winter holidays,” Jodi McGinnis Porter, a spokeswoman for the Health Department, said in an email. “However, these case counts do not include home testing results for which we have no data and individuals with very mild cases of COVID-19 may forego any testing.”

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