290 COVID-19 new cases NM, including 99 in Bernalillo County

The number of new cases announced on Wednesday by state health officials was close to 300, as cases in the state continue to grow at a new high level of sustained growth. The state Department of Health announced 290 additional COVID-19 cases on Wednesday and eight additional deaths related to the disease. The new number of cases represented the seventh consecutive day of 200 or more cases. Before the start of the current streak on July 2, the state had recorded 200 or more cases on only nine individual days. Just over one-third, or 99, of the cases came from residents of Bernalillo County, which is the state’s most populous county.

NM universities respond to new ICE rule targeting international students

New U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) regulations on international students is creating uncertainty on New Mexico university campuses. ICE issued a news release Monday that restricts students who are on F-1 and M-1 nonimmigrant visas. Students on F-1 visas pursue academic coursework while students on M-1 visas take vocational training. ICE’s new regulation prohibits students on F-1 and M-1 visas from remaining in the U.S. legally if they take online course work only. During the start of the pandemic, when many colleges, including New Mexico State University, shifted to online only classes, ICE made an exception for international students because it was the middle of the semester, said Seth Miner, director of admissions, orientation and international student and scholar services for NMSU.

State again finds 200+ new COVID-19 cases, Bernalillo County with most new cases

The streak of days with more than 200 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reached six, as the New Mexico Department of Health announced 221 additional COVID-19 cases and four additional deaths related to the disease. The percentage of tests that came back positive on Tuesday was 4.42 percent. The positivity rate of tests has increased in recent weeks after reaching as low as 2.5 percent in the seven-day average in June, according to Johns Hopkins University. The state now has found 13,727 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and identified 519 deaths related to the disease. Once again, the county with the most newly confirmed cases among residents was Bernalillo County, the state’s most populous.

Navajo Nation president expresses concern over county jail conditions

While New Mexico grapples with a delayed roll-out of reopening businesses and cancelled public events, some detention centers are grappling with increasing numbers of COVID-19. 

A privately run prison in Otero County, which houses both state and federal detainees, has seen a dramatic increase in cases of the disease. 

But now a county jail in northern New Mexico with hundreds of reported cases since March has caught the attention of at least one tribal leader. 

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez sent a letter to San Juan County leaders last week calling for an investigation into how the county jail is run and what is being done to prevent the spread of COVID-19. A portion of the Navajo Nation is in San Juan County and, like the county jail, has seen a high number of positive cases. In his letter, Nez cited a phone call from someone whose relative is in the San Juan County Adult Detention Center (SJCADC). The caller, Nez wrote, said the jail is lacking adequate ventilation, no separation of infected inmates, no laundry service and little to no sanitation efforts by jail officials. 

“How is SJCADC providing for the respect and dignity of the Detainees with a safe and secure environment that is maintained for operational readiness?” Nez asked in the letter. 

He went on to say that he would like to see county officials look into the conditions at the jail. 

“An investigation into the SJCADC operations and more specifically during these times of unprecedented crisis is requested, along with remedies for accountability and responsibility to do the right thing,” he wrote. 

The Navajo Nation did not respond to interview requests. In response, Chairman of the San Juan County Commission Jack Fortner wrote a letter disputing the allegation that inmates are subjected to sub-par conditions. 

Fortner wrote that the jail accepted an offer from the New Mexico Department of Health to provide guidance from Infectious Disease Bureau Medical Director Dr. Aja Sanzone.

NM again reports 250+ COVID-19 cases, with new record-high in Doña Ana County

The New Mexico Department of Health announced 253 additional cases of COVID-19, the fifth-straight day with over 200 cases and the third day out of four with more than 250 cases. Before Friday, the state had only recorded one day with more than 250 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19. Monday’s numbers reflected the largest one-day total of cases in Doña Ana County, with 85. Bernalillo County followed with 60. 

The previous highest number of cases from Doña Ana County, which includes the state’s second-most populous city, was 56 on July 4. 

In addition to the 253 confirmed cases, the state also announced two additional deaths. The percentage of total tests per positive tests on Monday was 4.88 percent.