New Mexico passes 1,000 COVID-19 deaths - Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico passes 1,000 COVID-19 deaths

Staff carry samples at an Albuquerque COVID-19 testing center in May. (Roberto E. Rosales/Journal file)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

More than 1,000 New Mexicans have died from COVID-19.

On Friday, the state surpassed the milestone with 13 additional deaths – the highest recorded daily number – related to the virus, bringing the total to 1,007.

Among the most recent deaths were two women, one in her 20s and the other in her 30s, from Bernalillo County and a woman in her 20s from Cibola County. All three were hospitalized and had underlying conditions.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham ordered state flags to be flown at half-staff for a week beginning Monday in recognition of those who have died.

“One thousand New Mexican lives lost is an unfathomable tragedy,” she said in a statement. “For many months now, the daily drumbeat of a few more deaths, a few more deaths has served to diminish the acute feeling of loss.”

In an interview with the Journal earlier in the week, the governor said New Mexico didn’t have to lose 1,000 people. “But I knew potentially this is where we were headed.”

The news comes seven months after an Eddy County man in his 70s became the first New Mexican to die from COVID-19 in an Artesia hospital. Since then, the state recorded its deadliest month in May, when 258 people died. Recorded deaths in October stand at 125.

Lujan Grisham, a former state health secretary, said she realized early on the potential danger a novel virus could pose.

She said top state officials in her administration began doing emergency scenario planning in January – two months before the pandemic hit New Mexico – after reading reports about the virus spreading rapidly in China.

The situation playing out in New Mexico mirrors much of the country as the virus rages past 9 million cases and 229,000 deaths nationwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. The nation has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks with more than 76,000 reported daily, an increase from around 54,000 in mid-October.

Lujan Grisham said many Americans have grown numb to the sheer number of coronavirus deaths.

But she said she’s still affected by such deaths, while adding that drastic steps such as putting Gallup on lockdown for about a week in May to slow a rapidly-growing outbreak in northwest New Mexico were ultimately effective in preventing even more fatalities.

“I can tell you clearly today, we were not overreacting and I think that early planning served us well,” Lujan Grisham said.

Nora Meyers Sackett, a Governor’s Office spokeswoman, said additional deaths reported Friday were:

  •  Two women, one in her 70s and one in her 80s, from Bernalillo County;
  •  Two men, one in his 60s and one in his 80s, from Doña Ana County;
  •  A woman in her 50s from Eddy County;
  •  A man in his 60s from Luna County;
  •  A man in his 60s from Sandoval County;
  •  A man in his 80s from Santa Fe County who was a resident at Kingston Residence in Santa Fe; and
  •  Two men, one in his 60s and one in his 70s, from Socorro County.

Officials recorded 1,010 new cases of the virus on Friday, the second-highest daily count, pushing the weekly average to 821 cases a day.

Bernalillo County tallied a record high 335 new cases, while Doña Ana County tied its highest total, set on Thursday, with 248 cases.

This time last month, on Sept. 30, there were two additional deaths and 270 daily cases with an average of 207 cases a day and 85 hospitalizations.

The statewide total of COVID-19 cases currently sits at 45,909. Of those, 21,491 are designated as having recovered by the New Mexico Department of Health.

There have been an additional 11 hospitalizations and, currently, 334 people are hospitalized with the virus. As it stands, 78% of general beds and 75% of ICU beds are occupied in New Mexico hospitals.

Since Oct. 1, New Mexico has broken its own record of daily case counts and averages several times as the numbers skyrocket and hospitalizations spike. Officials warned on Thursday that, if conditions don’t calm down, hospitals could be over capacity and caring for patients in MASH-style units by December.

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