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County that didn’t have any COVID cases now has 2


Albuquerque Fire Rescue Lt. Jake Gray inserts a swab into a driver’s nostril during the COVID-19 drive-up screening at Expo New Mexico on Monday, Sept. 7, 2020. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

New Mexico officials on Saturday reported 100 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases, including the second in a rural county that went months without any reported cases.

The cases reported Saturday raised the statewide total to 26,661 cases. Three additional deaths raised the death toll to 821.

De Baca County, in the thinly populated cattle country of east-central New Mexico, on Thursday lost its status as the only county in the state without a reported COVID-19 case.

Fort Sumner, the county seat of De Baca County, is 143 miles east of Albuquerque.

De Baca County stood alone without a reported COVID-19 case for two months after Mora County reported its first on July 10.

As of Saturday, only two other counties, both in rural northeastern New Mexico, still had case totals in the single digits: Harding with two and Mora with seven.

The state reported its first three COVID-19 cases on March 11.

Bernalillo County (Albuquerque), Doña Ana County (Las Cruces) plus McKinley (Gallup) and San Juan (Farmington) counties in northwestern New Mexico together account for over 16,500 cases, or about three-fifths of the current statewide total.

The deaths reported Saturday included a man in his 60s from Bernalillo County, a man in his 70s from Lea County and a man in his 30s from McKinley County. The men from Bernalillo and Lea counties had underlying conditions.

Of the 100 new cases, Doña Ana County led the state with 19, followed by Bernalillo County with 14 and Chaves County with 11. Sixteen other counties reported fewer than 10 new cases.

According to Johns Hopkins University data analyzed by The Associated Press, seven-day rolling averages for New Mexico of new daily cases and daily deaths both dropped over the past two weeks.

The average number of daily new cases went from 138 on Aug. 28 to 88 on Friday, while average deaths went from 4.3 to 3.6 per day.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

There are 67 people currently hospitalized for COVID-19 and 14,396 cases designated as having recovered by the state Department of Health, officials said Saturday.

Journal staff writer Anthony Jackson contributed to this report.