SANTA FE — New Mexico health officials reported eight more deaths Thursday as the coronavirus outbreak continued to grip the state, pushing the total number of dead to 44.
It was the most deaths reported in any one day since New Mexico’s first confirmed case was reported March 11.
The deaths include people ranging in age from their 30s to their 80s — including five adults in San Juan and McKinley counties, which both have high Native American populations.
All but two of the deaths involved people with underlying health conditions.
Altogether, state health officials reported 116 new cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. The state now has 1,597 confirmed cases.
Ninety patients are now hospitalized with the disease, and 353 people are classified as having recovered.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a Thursday statement that New Mexico was mourning with the families of those that died.
“Every one of these cases is a tragedy,” Lujan Grisham said. “Every one of the victims and their families and loved ones are in my prayers.”
Native Americans have felt the brunt of the state’s coronavirus outbreak, with infection clusters reported on the Navajo Nation, which includes parts of New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, and on Zia Pueblo and San Felipe Pueblo in Sandoval County.
In all, Native Americans make up at least 36% of the state’s confirmed cases, according to state data released earlier this week.
Meanwhile, Lujan Grisham also said she appreciated guidelines released by the White House about reopening the nation’s economy.
But the governor said it’s still too early to lift social distancing measures in New Mexico, including business closures, saying doing so could endanger state residents by increasing transmission rates.
“Please know that my administration is working doggedly to develop robust economic recovery plans alongside a plan for a thoughtful, staged and flexible reopening of our state — and the moment we can safely implement those plans, they will be implemented with the same dedication and focus that we are using to contain this pandemic,” Lujan Grisham said. “But first things first.”