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Despite drop, COVID cases remain at record levels

In this file photo, a New Mexico Army National Guard member processes a kit during a COVID-19 drive-up screening at Expo New Mexico in Albuquerque. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico recorded 577 additional cases of COVID-19 and one death related to the virus on Saturday afternoon.

Dozens of the new cases were at the Metropolitan Detention Center – the largest jail in the state – which is already reeling from hundreds of recent infections.

Jodi McGinnis Porter, a Governor’s Office spokeswoman, announced one additional death: that of a woman in her 80s from Bernalillo County. The woman was hospitalized and had underlying conditions.

Although it was the first time the daily case count had decreased after back-to-back record-breaking totals of 672 and 819, Saturday’s numbers are tied for the third-highest total since the pandemic hit in March.

A relentless spike over the past week has also pushed the state’s seven-day average to a new peak of 518 cases a day. This time last month, the average was 110 cases.

The counties hit hardest with new cases include Bernalillo, with 191; Doña Ana, with 98; Eddy – where a teenage girl recently died of COVID-19, with 36; and Curry, with 35.

Nearly a third of the new cases in Bernalillo County stem from an ongoing outbreak at MDC.

MDC spokeswoman Julia Rivera said 62 new cases among inmates pushed the total number of active cases to 369 – or 27% of the population.

There were also two new cases among MDC staff, bringing that total to 45.

The virus has wreaked havoc on the jail, with 405 cases in the past two weeks – 85% of the 476 it’s had since the pandemic began.

Statewide, hospitalizations have continued to increase.

There are 173 people hospitalized with the virus, 26 of them on ventilators, the state said Saturday. A month ago, there were 69 people hospitalized with the virus.

McGinnis Porter said there are 19,853 people designated as having recovered by the New Mexico Department of Health.

The state has reported a total of 36,343 cases and 929 deaths related to the virus.

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