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5 more deaths announced; COVID cases still spiking in northwest NM

Pharmacists conduct Covid- 19 screenings outside of the Walmart Superstore located at Wyoming and Academy NE on Thursday. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

SANTA FE — New Mexico health officials have announced five additional deaths due to COVID-19, as the disease continues to ravage the state’s northwest corner.

In all, 136 of the 186 additional confirmed coronavirus cases announced Monday are from two northwest New Mexico counties — McKinley and San Juan — that have seen skyrocketing infection rates in recent weeks.

Three of the five individuals whose deaths were reported Monday were from one of those two counties. The other two deaths involved a male in his 60s from Sandoval County and a female in her 70s from Bernalillo County.

The five deaths brought the state’s death toll attributable to the coronavirus outbreak to 156.

In an effort to slow the spread of the virus, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Monday extended a lockdown order for Gallup for an additional three days, after the city’s mayor asked her to do so. Under the new order, the lockdown will remain in place until Thursday at noon.

The lockdown order, issued under the state’s rarely-used Riot Control Act, closes all roads into Gallup for most non-residents and requires businesses in the city to be closed from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m.

“The spread of this virus in McKinley County is frightful,” the governor said Friday in issuing the lockdown order, “and it shows that physical distancing has not occurred and is not occurring. The virus is running amok there. It must be stopped, and stricter measures are necessary.”

Coronavirus outbreaks on the┬áNavajo Nation and several tribal pueblos have also prompted curfews, road closures and other measures on tribal land. Native Americans now make up 55.3% of all confirmed COVID-19 cases statewide, according to state data, despite representing only about 11% of the state’s total population.

Meanwhile, the COVID-19 outbreak has also hit nursing homes and other group-living facilities hard. As of Monday, there were 25 such facilities statewide that had confirmed cases among either residents or staff, according to the Department of Health.

In addition, there were 181 individuals hospitalized with coronavirus symptoms around New Mexico, as of Monday.

The Department of Health has designed 842 people as having recovered from the virus, meaning about 20.9% of those infected have recovered.

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