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NM virus deaths jump 55% in two days

Fire and rescue personal attend to a patient last month at the Alvarado Transportation Center. They are wearing eye protection, gloves, masks, and gowns as the new protocol calls for because of COVID-19. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – Five more people died in New Mexico’s coronavirus outbreak – all in San Juan County, where the Navajo Nation has been hit hard – as the state’s death toll reached 31, state officials said Monday.

The number of virus deaths in the state jumped 55% over 48 hours. Six deaths were announced Sunday.

The deaths come as New Mexico health officials say they are bracing for a surge in coronavirus cases in northwestern New Mexico.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and state health officials have repeatedly urged people to stay home to limit the spread of the respiratory disease and avoid overwhelming hospitals with an influx of virus patients.

Those whose deaths were announced Monday were five adults ranging in age from their 40s to their 80s, all with underlying health conditions. The deaths occurred in San Juan County, which includes part of the Navajo Nation.

A state spokeswoman said she didn’t know whether the people who died were members of the Navajo Nation.

New Mexico’s 31 deaths have all come in the past three weeks, and state officials have said they believe the state is still relatively early in its outbreak, which may not peak until later this month or in May.

State officials also said Monday that testing has confirmed 107 more cases of the virus, bringing the total number of infections to 1,345 since March 11.

Eighty-seven patients – a 9% increase since Sunday – are now hospitalized with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

The state Department of Health classified 304 people as having recovered.

State health officials say staying home is the best strategy for fighting the virus.

“New Mexicans are strongly urged to limit travel to only what is necessary for health, safety and welfare,” state officials said in Monday’s announcement.

Electronic meetings

House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, said Monday that legislators are still discussing ways to meet safely amid the pandemic. One option, he said, is to meet briefly in person to approve rules allowing for lawmakers to convene electronically through an online program.

But he said there’s no agreement on whether to pursue such changes.

The state Supreme Court is weighing whether it would be legal for the Legislature to meet electronically as part of a broader case centering on how to conduct the June 2 primary election. The justices have set a hearing for Tuesday afternoon to hear arguments.

Lujan Grisham and lawmakers of both parties have said they expect a special legislative session this summer to revise the state budget and take up other emergency legislation.

Underlying health

For most people, COVID-19 causes only mild to moderate symptoms, such as fever and respiratory problems. But older adults and people with underlying health conditions are most at risk.

All five adults whose deaths were announced Monday had undisclosed medical conditions.

They were two women in their 80s, a man in his 70s, a man in his 80s and a man in his 40s.

The state also said it has confirmed at least one case of COVID-19 – either a resident or a staff member – at nine group living facilities in New Mexico, including five in Albuquerque. They are Advanced Health Care of Albuquerque, Central Desert Behavioral Health, Good Samaritan Manzano del Sol, La Vida Llena and Uptown Genesis.

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