October 22, 2020

669 new COVID-19 cases, three additional deaths as health officials sound warning about crowded hospitals

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The state Department of Health reported 669 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, the eighth time in nine days that the state has reported more than 500 cases. DOH also reported three additional deaths related to the disease.

On the same day, State Human Services Department Secretary Dr. David Scrase held a webinar in which he said the hospitalization numbers include some troubling trends.

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 increased to 213, 11 more than reported on Wednesday. This is tied for the second-most COVID-19 hospitalizations in a single day in New Mexico. Scrase said that hospitalizations are increasing in Albuquerque.

“We’re particularly vulnerable with all Albuquerque ICUs being as close to full as they’ve been now,” Scrase said. 

The trend of hospitalizations in Albuquerque includes people who are bringing themselves to the hospital’s emergency departments, as opposed to being transferred to the state’s “hub” hospitals from around the state as when hospitalizations peaked in the summer.

“All of the Albuquerque facilities are moving into phase 2 or phase 3 of the surge plans,” Scrase said.

The hospitalization numbers could include those from other states who are hospitalized in New Mexico for COVID-19, but would not include New Mexico residents who were hospitalized out of state. Scrase said the number of those from other states is generally low and close to the number of New Mexicans hospitalized in other states.

DOH reported that 85 percent of adult general beds in New Mexico were occupied and that 70 percent of ICU beds statewide were occupied.

Bernalillo County once again had the highest number of newly reported cases, with 185. Doña Ana County had the next most with 97, followed by 53 in Sandoval County and 46 in Eddy County. Seven other counties had 20 or more cases: Lea County (36), Chaves County (31), Valencia County (31), Curry County (30), Luna County (24), Lincoln County (31) and San Juan County (21).

In all, 26 of the state’s 33 counties reported at least one new case on Thursday. Additionally, DOH reported eight cases among those held by the state or by federal agencies at facilities throughout the state.

DOH provided some information on the three newly reported deaths.

  • A male in his 70s from Bernalillo County who had underlying conditions.
  • A male in his 30s from Doña Ana County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions.
  • A female in her 70s from Eddy County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions.

As usual, DOH did not disclose which underlying conditions any of the deceased had, only if one was present. According to the latest state epidemiology report, the most common underlying condition among those who have died in New Mexico so far is cardiovascular disease, followed by diabetes and hypertension. Some who died had multiple conditions.

The total number of cases reached 39,377, with 953 deaths related to the disease.

Of the confirmed cases, 20,562 are considered recovered by DOH, an increase of 230 since Wednesday’s release.

Testing details

The state coronavirus information page said the state has processed 1,089,150 tests, an increase of 11,063 cases since Wednesday’s release. Scrase noted that the number of tests tends to increase when numbers increase, as more people seek tests.

The test positivity rate of the newly reported tests was 6.05 percent. The state uses a different measure—the test positivity rate by the date the specimen is collected—as part of its gating criteria. That can lag for almost a week because of how long some private labs take to process and report results.

Dr. Karissa Culbreath, medical director and infectious disease division chief at TriCore Reference Laboratories, spoke about the state using “pooling” to expand its testing capacity. In some labs, the state is processing four samples together, and if the sample comes back as negative, all four people are told the sample was negative. If the sample tests positive, each individual sample is tested again individually to determine which specimen or specimens were positive.

“Pooling as a method has been suggested and recommended by the White House task force and others to increase our statewide testing capacity,” Culbreath said.

The state is only doing so with a limited number of tests, which increases the capacity by 400 tests per day, but the state is preparing to expand the program when it receives the go-ahead from the federal government.

One problem can be the positivity rate. If the samples are from areas with a high positivity rate, it would mean fewer negative cases, which would make the process less efficient, Culbreath said.

DOH provided the total number of newly reported cases by county:

  • 185 new cases in Bernalillo County
  • 31 new cases in Chaves County
  • 12 new cases in Cibola County
  • 1 new case in Colfax County
  • 30 new cases in Curry County
  • 97 new cases in Doña Ana County
  • 46 new cases in Eddy County
  • 1 new case in Grant County
  • 1 new case in Guadalupe County
  • 36 new cases in Lea County
  • 21 new cases in Lincoln County
  • 24 new cases in Luna County
  • 7 new cases in McKinley County
  • 7 new cases in Otero County
  • 1 new case in Quay County
  • 4 new cases in Rio Arriba County
  • 16 new cases in Roosevelt County
  • 53 new cases in Sandoval County
  • 21 new cases in San Juan County
  • 1 new case in San Miguel County
  • 17 new cases in Santa Fe County
  • 9 new cases in Sierra County
  • 7 new cases in Socorro County
  • 1 new case in Taos County
  • 1 new case in Torrance County
  • 31 new cases in Valencia County
  • 2 new cases among individuals held by federal agencies at the Otero County Prison Facility
  • 3 new cases among New Mexico Corrections Department inmates at the Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Valencia County
  • 2 new cases among New Mexico Corrections Department inmates at the Lea County Correctional Facility
  • 1 new case among New Mexico Corrections Department inmates at the Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility in Doña Ana County

DOH also reported the total number of cases by county, including those reported on Thursday.

The department identified six previously reported cases as duplicates (three in Bernalillo County and one in each of Chaves, Quay and Socorro counties) and one case in Valencia County that was not lab confirmed. DOH determined a case previously reported to Lea County was actually among the state inmates at the Lea County Correctional Facility. These cases have all been corrected.

  • Bernalillo County: 9,685
  • Catron County: 9
  • Chaves County: 1,846
  • Cibola County: 532
  • Colfax County: 42
  • Curry County: 1,397
  • De Baca County: 1
  • Doña Ana County: 5,170
  • Eddy County: 1,302
  • Grant County: 172
  • Guadalupe County: 39
  • Harding County: 1
  • Hidalgo County: 112
  • Lea County: 1,928
  • Lincoln County: 336
  • Los Alamos County: 40
  • Luna County: 685
  • McKinley County: 4,509
  • Mora County: 14
  • Otero County: 418
  • Quay County: 95
  • Rio Arriba County: 464
  • Roosevelt County: 418
  • Sandoval County: 1,825
  • San Juan County: 3,674
  • San Miguel County: 152
  • Santa Fe County: 1,491
  • Sierra County: 89
  • Socorro County: 197
  • Taos County: 182
  • Torrance County: 94
  • Union County: 39
  • Valencia County: 833

DOH reported the following numbers of COVID-19 cases among individuals held by federal agencies at the following facilities:

  • Cibola County Correctional Center: 340
  • Otero County Prison Facility: 342
  • Otero County Processing Center: 181
  • Torrance County Detention Facility: 44

DOH reported the following numbers of COVID-19 cases among individuals held by the New Mexico Corrections Department at the following facilities:

  • Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Valencia County: 44
  • Lea County Correctional Facility: 106
  • Northeast New Mexico Correctional Facility in Union County: 5
  • Northwest New Mexico Correctional Center in Cibola County: 1
  • Otero County Prison Facility: 472
  • Penitentiary of New Mexico in Santa Fe County: 1
  • Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility in Doña Ana County: 46
  • Western New Mexico Correctional Facility in Cibola County: 4

DOH has identified at least one positive COVID-19 case in residents and/or staff in the past 28 days at 57 long-term care facilities, the same number as reported on Wednesday:

  • Adobe Assisted Living in Las Cruces
  • Albuquerque Heights Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center
  • Artesia Healthcare and Rehabilitation 
  • Atria Vista Del Rio in Albuquerque
  • Avamere at Fiesta Park in Albuquerque
  • Bear Canyon Rehabilitation Center in Albuquerque
  • BeeHive Homes Volcano Cliffs in Albuquerque
  • Belen Meadows Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Belen
  • Bloomfield Nursing and Rehabilitation
  • Brookdale Valencia Albuquerque
  • Casa del Sol Center in Las Cruces
  • Casa de Oro Center in Las Cruces
  • Casa Maria Health Care Center in Roswell
  • Clovis Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Clovis
  • Desert Springs Nursing and Rehabilitation in Hobbs
  • El Castillo in Santa Fe
  • Fairwinds Assisted Living in Rio Rancho
  • Good Life Senior Living in Artesia
  • Good Life Senior Living in Carlsbad
  • Good Samaritan Manzano Del Sol Independent Senior Living in Albuquerque
  • Good Samaritan Society Las Cruces
  • Lakeview Christian Home in Carlsbad
  • Las Palomas Center in Albuquerque
  • Life Care Center in Farmington
  • LifeSpire Assisted Living in Rio Rancho
  • Lotus Care Homes in Albuquerque
  • Kingston Residence of Santa Fe
  • Mission Arch Center in Roswell
  • MorningStar Assisted Living & Memory Care in Rio Rancho
  • The Montebello on Academy in Albuquerque
  • The Neighborhood in Rio Rancho
  • New Mexico State Veterans Home in Truth or Consequences
  • North Ridge Care Center in Albuquerque
  • Odelia Healthcare (Camino Healthcare) in Albuquerque
  • Princeton Place in Albuquerque
  • Ramah Adult Care in Ramah
  • The Rehabilitation Center of Albuquerque
  • Retirement Ranches in Clovis
  • Retreat Healthcare in Rio Rancho
  • The Rio Las Estancias in Albuquerque
  • Rio Rancho Center
  • Sandia Ridge Center in Albuquerque
  • Sandia Senior Suites in Albuquerque
  • San Juan Center in Albuquerque
  • Silver City Care Center in Silver City
  • Skies Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Albuquerque
  • Sombrillo Nursing and Rehabilitation in Los Alamos
  • South Valley Care Center in Albuquerque
  • St. Anthony Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in Clovis
  • Sunset Villa Care Center in Roswell
  • Tercer Cielo in Albuquerque
  • Village at Northrise in Las Cruces
  • Village Retirement Community in Roswell
  • Vista Hermosa in Santa Fe
  • Welbrook Senior Living Las Cruces
  • Westwind House Assisted Living in Albuquerque
  • Wheatfields Senior Living Community in Clovis