March 25, 2020

State announces first death related to COVID-19

The New Mexico Department of Health announced a male, in his late 70s, in Eddy County died after contracting COVID-19. It’s the first reported death in the state related to the disease.

The man had multiple, chronic underlying health issues according to the DOH.

“This is a tragic day,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement.

The man entered Artesia General Hospital on Sunday, March 22 and died the same day. According to the DOH release, his condition deteriorated rapidly after going to the hospital. Artesia General Hospital conducted a test for COVID-19, a disease caused by a coronavirus, and sent it to the state labs, which received and processed it on Tuesday, March 24. 

In its Tuesday update, the state reported 100 positive tests for COVID-19 throughout the state.

“Across our state, across the country, we are all reeling from the effects of this virus. For anyone in our state who had not yet acknowledged this virus as the urgent public health crisis that it is, who has not accepted the extremely compelling need to stay home, today lays bare the very real, very life-or-death consequences of this disease,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement. “My prayers are with the family of this New Mexican. I ask all New Mexicans to include the sick and their families in their prayers – as well as the health care workers and those others on the front lines helping protect us from this disease.”

U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small also commented, and said she was sending her “thoughts and prayers to the family at this time of mourning.”

“This tragedy highlights the seriousness and extreme costs of COVID-19, and why we’ve got to use the best practices put forth by the NMDOH and CDC, including social distancing, to keep ourselves, our loved ones, neighbors, and strangers alike safe, ” she said.  “We must address this public health emergency with the collective urgency it requires.  I remain committed to working alongside our state, community, Tribal, and local leaders to combat this ongoing challenge and keep folks safe throughout southern and central New Mexico.”

Lujan Grisham said as more people are infected, it is likely that there will be more deaths from COVID-19. She said this is why it is “imperative that New Mexicans remain home except for only those most essential or emergent outings.”

Lujan Grisham has implemented restrictions, including banning gatherings of more than five people, suspending in-person operations at all non-essential businesses and nonprofits and closing public schools statewide for at least three weeks. All are an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The state says those who experience symptoms of COVID-19—fever, shortness of breath and coughing—can call the state hotline at 855-600-3453 to learn about testing sites across the state. 

Update: Added quote from U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small.