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NM sees small improvement in virus cases

In this Dec. 16 file photo, William Van Herpe, a paramedic for the Santa Fe County Fire Department, gets a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine from Rebecca Romero, a registered nurse at the Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – The number of new coronavirus cases in New Mexico continued to show some signs of leveling off Tuesday, following rapid growth last week.

The state reported 893 new infections Tuesday – the smallest daily number in two weeks.

New Mexico has averaged about 1,355 cases a day over the past week, a 3% decrease from the average a few days ago, according to a Journal analysis.

The state also saw some improvement in its test positivity rate. The share of tests that come back positive fell to 11.9% in the most recent seven-day period tracked by the state, down from an average of 15.6% just a few days ago.

The state, however, reported an above-average number of coronavirus fatalities Tuesday – 30 more deaths, largely older adults. The state has averaged about 29 deaths a day over the past week.

The statewide death toll is now 2,794 residents since the pandemic reached New Mexico in March.

Tuesday’s fatalities ranged in age from two men in their 30s to seven people in their 80s or 90s.

Health officials reported 715 virus hospitalizations, roughly in line with recent figures.

New Mexico is set to update its color-coded map of public health restrictions Wednesday.

In the last update, two weeks ago, only Catron County advanced out of the most restrictive level – to yellow, the middle tier in the “Red to Green” system. The designation meant Catron County restaurants could reopen indoor dining at partial capacity, among other changes.

To reach yellow, a county must hit one of two statistical targets – either a test positivity rate of 5% or less, or fewer than eight new cases a day per 100,000 people. Reaching both goals would put a county in the green.

In other developments Tuesday:

• Presbyterian Healthcare Services encouraged New Mexicans to register for a COVID-19 vaccine through the state website, A link to a Presbyterian sign-up portal was shared with the community by unknown sources recently, but it’s intended only for health care workers and first responders.

“We look forward to providing vaccines to our greater community in the coming weeks,” Dr. Jason Mitchell, chief medical officer at Presbyterian said in a written statement. “In the meantime, we encourage all other community members to register for a vaccine on NMDOH’s website.”

• The Department of Health said it has a team developing plans to get vaccines to home-bound seniors and other vulnerable populations.

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