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NM tallies 263 new virus cases, most since July


In this file photo from Sept. 11, drivers wait in line at the Presbyterian COVID-19 testing site at Balloon Fiesta Park in Albuquerque. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – New Mexico reported 263 new coronavirus cases Friday – the most in a single day since July, when daily infections hit their peak.

Health officials also reported six more deaths, pushing the statewide total to 865 fatalities since March.

The new cases reported Friday pushed the seven-day rolling average of reported cases to 163 a day – an increase of 85% since Sept. 12. The case average is still below the state’s goal of 168 or fewer each day.

Statistical modeling by the state also estimates the rate of disease spread at 1.27 – the fastest COVID-19 has spread since April, in the early days of the pandemic. It means each person infected with the virus would, on average, spread it to 1.27 other people.

The surge in cases comes after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham this week urged New Mexicans to “double down” on mask wearing, testing and other strategies to limit disease transmission.

State epidemiologists say travel and social gatherings over Labor Day weekend may be contributing to the increase.

The state also has relaxed some public health restrictions, including a decision about a month ago to allow indoor dining at partial capacity in restaurants and breweries. Elementary school students are also returning to campus in some districts on a hybrid schedule that alternates in-person and remote learning.

But some of the increase is likely a result of increased testing. The state has been conducting about 6,075 tests a day over the last week, at least 1,000 more than it was conducting in mid-September.

The share of tests that come back positive has climbed slightly. The positivity rate for the last seven days is 2.4%, compared with 2.0% in the week that ended last Friday.

The six deaths reported Friday were all adults in their 50s or older. Five had an underlying condition of some kind – a risk factor for the disease.

Doña Ana County in southern New Mexico led the state with 54 new cases, followed by Bernalillo County with 51.

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