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State tallies 2 deaths, 106 new virus cases


In this file photo from last week, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham prepares to give an update on the COVID-19 health emergency in New Mexico. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – New Mexico recorded just two more virus deaths and 106 new cases Monday but slipped out of compliance with one of its criteria for reopening.

The disease is spreading a little more rapidly than the state’s target, according to the latest modeling by the Department of Health.

State officials now estimate the rate of spread at 1.11, meaning each person who is infected will spread COVID-19, on average, to 1.11 other people. The goal is limit the spread to 1.05 or less.

But the state is in compliance with its seven other coronavirus targets.

The two fatalities reported Monday – women in their 60s and 70s – pushed the statewide COVID-19 death toll to 851 residents since March. The state has been averaging about four deaths a day over the past week, or well below the peak of 10 daily deaths in mid-May.

The 106 new cases detected by testing moves the seven-day rolling average to 120 cases a day, comfortably below the state’s target of 168 or fewer cases a day. New Mexico hit about 330 cases a day on average at its peak in late July.

The case average has inched up slightly over the past 10 days.

Bernalillo County led the state with 27 new infections Monday, followed by 18 in Doña Ana County.

New Mexico as a whole is in compliance with seven of the Department of Health’s eight targets for safely reopening the state – a set of standards covering the prevalence of the disease, the share of tests that come back positive and supply of medical equipment.

The state had briefly fallen below its goal of conducting 5,000 tests a day, but testing has climbed back above the threshold – to 5,679 tests conducted on average in a recent seven-day period.

The test positivity rate is just 2.2%, far below the target of 5% or less.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s administration has been slowly reopening the economy in phases. For the past three weeks, indoor seating at restaurants and breweries has been allowed at 25% capacity.

School districts throughout most of New Mexico have been allowed to bring back elementary school students on a hybrid schedule, though many districts have opted to continue remote learning for the rest of the fall semester.

The Public Education Department announced six new positive tests – none in Bernalillo County – bringing the total cases in school populations to 132 since mid-August.

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