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NM records 301 new virus cases, six deaths


In this file photo from Thursday, Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel, right, and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham take part a public briefing from the Capitol on the COVID-19 outbreak in New Mexico. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – New Mexico reported 301 new coronavirus cases Friday, pushing the state’s daily average of infections to its highest point this year, according to a Journal analysis of state data.

State officials also said Friday that six more residents had died of COVID-19, pushing the statewide death toll to 539 people.

Friday’s 301 infections are the second highest in a day since the pandemic arrived in March, behind June 5, when an outbreak at the Otero County prison contributed to 330 new cases.

But a rolling average of cases – examining the case totals over a five-day period to smooth out daily fluctuations – shows that New Mexico is now reporting more cases than ever.

The latest five-day moving average is 259 cases a day, or more than twice what it was a month ago.

Friday’s state report also showed a jump in cases in Lea County in the southeastern part of the state – an area state officials have flagged as a particular concern because of the rapid growth. Testing detected 32 cases in the county on Friday, up from seven the day before.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has responded to the surge by tightening New Mexico’s public health restrictions. Starting Monday, indoor dining will be prohibited, out-of-state visitors will be barred from state parks and new mask requirements will go into effect.

“We’re at war with COVID-19,” the governor said Thursday in a press briefing.

The state will require people to wear a mask or facial covering while exercising, eliminating an exemption in the state’s current mandate.

Restaurants and breweries say the indoor-dining restrictions will make it harder to survive the pandemic.

Arizona and Texas, meanwhile, are seeing infections grow at an even faster rate than New Mexico. They are also reimposing business and health restrictions.

Among the six virus deaths reported in New Mexico on Friday was a state inmate in his 70s at the Otero County prison.

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