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New Mexico shifts focus to elderly in preventing coronavirus

SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico state health officials say they are placing a new focus on safeguarding the state’s elderly population from potential transmission of the new coronavirus.

The state has no known infections since starting testing this week for people with an elevated risk of infection because of travel and other factors.

“We are now specifically identifying our elderly population as a vulnerable group,” David Morgan, a spokesman for the Health Department, said in an email Thursday.

The agency’s website listed 10 tests in New Mexico that were all negative for COVID-19.

The U.S. Health and Human Services Department has awarded an initial $500,000 to the state for enhancing testing and surveillance. State officials are awaiting guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how best to allocate those funds.

Symptoms of the virus can include fever, cough and breathing trouble. Most develop only mild symptoms. But some people, usually those with other medical complications, develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia, which can be fatal.

The Health Department is offering educational meetings Friday in Roswell and Clovis.

Health officials say that precautions can be taken at public gatherings such as “social distancing” that includes staying at a distance of 6 feet (2 meters) from other people.

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