Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE – For the second day in a row, New Mexico broke its daily records for COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations.
State health officials on Thursday reported 44 more coronavirus deaths, four more than the record set a day earlier. The statewide death toll now stands at 1,673 residents.
The past seven days have been the state’s deadliest stretch of the pandemic so far, according to a Journal analysis. New Mexico has averaged 29 coronavirus fatalities a day over the past week, well beyond the longtime peak of 10 deaths a day in mid-May.
“We have to keep fighting,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said on Twitter. “We can’t give up.”
A forecast released by Los Alamos National Laboratory suggests the state will average between 22 and 42 deaths a day over the next two weeks.
Hospitals are also under increasing strain. The Department of Health reported that 947 coronavirus patients are in New Mexico hospitals, seven more than the record set Wednesday.
But the latest numbers suggested some optimism on other fronts:
• The state reported 1,908 new cases of the virus, another sign that infections are reaching a plateau, rather than continuing to grow sharply. New Mexico has averaged about 1,869 cases a day over the past week, a 30% drop over the past 10 days.
• The rate of transmission fell to 0.93 on Monday, the most recent day available, according to statistical modeling by the state. Any rate below 1.0 means each person who has the virus is, on average, spreading it to less than one other person, a trend that should push case numbers lower. The rate was as high as 1.31 in early November.
• The share of tests that come back positive fell to 15% in the seven days ending Tuesday, down from a high of 24% in late November.
The 44 fatalities announced Thursday include 10 in Bernalillo County, the state’s most populous county. Most of the victims were in their 70s or older, but two were in their 30s and one in his 40s.
Lujan Grisham ordered a two-week shutdown of much of New Mexico’s business activity in late November. Slightly relaxed restrictions went into effect Wednesday, though indoor restaurant dining remains banned in all but one county, San Miguel County, east of Santa Fe.