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NM surpasses 20,000 COVID-19 cases; 6 deaths take the total to 632

Health care workers at an Optum medical facility provide drive-up testing for COVID-19 in Rio Rancho in this April file photo. New Mexico’s total number of confirmed coronavirus cases has not hit 20,136 cases. (Roberto E. Rosales/Journal)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – More confirmed COVID-19 cases were reported Wednesday at a Cibola County prison, as the state’s total number of cases since the pandemic started surpassed the 20,000 mark.

New Mexico public health officials announced 352 new cases, bringing the cumulative total to 20,136, with 76 of those new cases coming from the Cibola County Correctional Center.

The privately run facility, which holds immigration detainees and other types of inmates, has now reported 266 total cases – all but a few of them in the past few days – after conducting mass testing of staff and detainees last week.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health also said six additional New Mexicans had died due to complications related to coronavirus, bringing the state’s total death tally from the virus to 632.

Three of those who died were Bernalillo County residents – a man in his 90s, a woman in her 80s and a woman in her 60s. All three were residents of different senior living homes.

The other three deaths were a woman in her 60s from Chaves County, a man in his 50s from McKinley County and a man in his 60s from Rio Arriba County.

Despite the steady increase in deaths, New Mexico’s death rate from COVID-19 remains below peak levels from mid-May.

And the number of individuals hospitalized around the state due to the disease has fallen from 178 to 158 over the past week.

Those trends have prompted Republican Party leaders to urge further loosening of business restrictions, even though the state’s seven-day rolling average of new cases per day hit a record high of 331 on Wednesday.

New Mexico’s existing public health order expires this week, but is expected to be extended by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s administration.

The governor warned during a news conference last week that New Mexicans should expect to see deaths increase, though she said the state was doing better in its efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 than some of its neighbors.

“I don’t think it gets better tomorrow, and I don’t think it gets better next week,” Lujan Grisham said.

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