State to open COVID-19 alternative care facility in Gallup

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As COVID-19 cases in McKinley County continue to skyrocket, the state announced that its alternative care facility in Gallup will accept its first patients on Saturday.

The facility, in a converted high school gymnasium, will be able to handle 60 patients.

As of the numbers on Thursday, the state has found 573 cases in McKinley County, the second-most in the state, only behind Bernalillo County which has nearly ten times the population of the largely rural western New Mexico county. According to the Albuquerque Journal, this translates to 777.86 infections per 100,000 residents.

The Navajo Nation, which includes portions of McKinley County, is one of the hardest-hit parts of the country when it comes to COVID-19 infections. The Nation has implemented a number of stringent restrictions to halt the spread of the disease, including nightly and weekend curfews.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers turned the gymnasium at Miyamura High School into a facility that can handle COVID-19 patients. The Corps finished its work last week and handed over control to the state New Mexico Department of Health, Rehoboth McKinley Christian Hospital and Gallup Indian Medical Center. Dr. Kevin Gaines and Dr. Valory Wangler will be in charge of the facility.

Members of the New Mexico National Guard helped with moving equipment into patient rooms.The state is also close to opening a facility in Albuquerque at an old Lovelace hospital.