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NM sets new record for virus cases, hospitalizations

In this photo from last week, members of the New Mexico Army National Guard and other medical personnel sanitize equipment at the Expo New Mexico COVID-19 testing site.(Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE — New Mexico soared past another daily record Wednesday, setting a new high in the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations.

The state reported 481 virus patients in its hospitals, a 13% jump in just a day and the most ever recorded in the pandemic. The spike in hospitalizations comes as medical leaders warn they may have to treat patients in MASH-style units if the trend continues and invoke other crisis standards of care.

Health officials also reported 1,500 new coronavirus cases Wednesday — another record, 6% more than the previous high, set Monday. The state has averaged about 1,255 cases a day over the past week, also a record.

New Mexico tallied 14 more virus deaths for the day, pushing the statewide death toll to 1,158 residents.

The state has averaged about 14 fatalities a day over the last week, the deadliest stretch of the pandemic so far. Those whose deaths were reported Wednesday were adults ranging in age from their 50s to their 90s, including three from Bernalillo County.

All but two of the 14 had underlying medical conditions of some kind — such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or obesity.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham urged New Mexicans to stay home to help limit the transmission of COVID-19.

“Every one of us must act,” she said on Twitter. “Any gathering with friends or family who don’t live in your household is not worth the risk. Be safe. Stay home.”

Statistical reports released by the Department of Health on Wednesday show:

• A handful of counties in southern and eastern New Mexico are leading the state in new cases, when adjusted for population. Luna, Doña Ana, Curry, Chaves and Roosevelt counties had the most new cases per person in the most recent weeklong period tracked by the state.

• The most common activities reported by people who have tested positive — and had their sources of potential exposure investigated — are shopping, visits to restaurants and breweries, and attendance at a gathering of some kind.

• About one in six patients hospitalized for COVID-19 in New Mexico — 17% — have died.

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