Guv urges residents to do their part to slow spread of coronavirus

One focus of New Mexico’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is the “surge.” That’s the time that hospitalizations will stretch hospital resources to their maximum, and potentially overwhelm, as has happened in other areas around the country and world.

In a remote press conference by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and two of her cabinet-level secretaries, the governor said a number of times that the number one thing New Mexicans can do to push that surge further into the future and lessen its impact is to remain socially distanced.

“We should just treat it like we all have this virus and we have an extra responsibility to prevent the spread,” she said.

DOH: Seventh COVID-19 patient in NM dies; total positive cases in state now over 400

The amount of confirmed COVID-19 cases in New Mexico crossed 400 on Thursday, and the state Department of Health announced that a seventh person with COVID-19 has died. The state said the death was a woman in Bernalillo County in her 70s, who died on Wednesday. She was hospitalized and had multiple underlying medical conditions. Update (4/3): COVID-19 cases jump to 495, state reports 3 new deaths

The state said that another 40 people have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the state’s total to 403. The state said that 34 people are hospitalized in New Mexico for COVID-19, an increase of three patients.

Sixth person in NM with coronavirus died; 48 new positive tests

The state announced Wednesday a sixth person with COVID-19 died in the state, and that an additional 48 people tested positive for the disease. Update (4/2/2020): DOH: Seventh COVID-19 patient in NM dies; total positive cases in state now over 400

The state Department of Health said that the person who died was a woman in her 90s from Sandoval County. She had underlying medical conditions and died on Tuesday. She is the first person to die with COVID-19 in Sandoval County. The 48 new positive tests bring the state’s total to 363 positive tests.

GOP opposes mail-in primaries

The Republican Party of New Mexico and members of both the House and Senate Republican caucuses filed a motion on Tuesday to intervene in an attempt to block an effort by county clerks and the Secretary of State to move to a primarily mail-in election for June’s primaries. Update: The state Supreme Court accepted the motion to intervene and set a hearing for April 14, with responses from the governor of New Mexico,t he legislature, Democratic party of New Mexico, Libertarian Party of New Mexico and the League of Women Voters filed by April 8. The motion argues that the current absentee system, which does not require an excuse to request an absentee ballot, would suffice for mail-in elections. The petition from the clerks and Secretary of State says that a mail-in election would be necessary to protect the public, election workers and election administrators from COVID-19, in light of strict measures the state has implemented to slow the spread of the disease that has already caused five deaths in New Mexico and thousands nationwide. The Republicans’ motion to intervene calls the clerks’ effort “one of the most audacious in recent memory” and says it asks the state supreme court “to violate separation of powers by making new law (in conflict with existing statute) in an area that is the acknowledged constitutional ‘providence of the Legislature.’”

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Governor, administration prepare for coronavirus ‘surge’

In a press conference on Tuesday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and cabinet officials outlined the state’s preparations for the expected “surge” in cases of COVID-19 in the upcoming weeks and the resulting hospitalizations, which will strain and even overwhelm the state’s health care systems, as it has in other areas of the country and world. And the state provided a stark update on how many New Mexicans could die, well above previous estimates. She said the state will make preparations to expand its hospital bed capacity, medical equipment and COVID-19 testing, while urging the public to practice socially distancing to keep the peak of cases as low as possible. Related: Guv’s public health order extended another month

What exactly that peak amount of cases looks like is something officials and experts have been considering as a way to prepare. 

A widely shared model from the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation predicts that the state will hit its peak amount of COVID-19 cases on May 2, which would require 1,594 hospital beds and 239 beds in intensive care units. The model predicts a total amount of 529 deaths from COVID-19 in New Mexico, with a peak of 16 daily COVID-19 deaths on April 29.

The daily recap of New Mexico COVID-19 news (4/1/20 edition)

Note: This daily recap of COVID-19 news from New Mexico is available in a free daily email. Sign up here. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and cabinet officials gave an update on plans to prepare New Mexico for the “surge” in COVID-19 cases, especially for hospitals around the state. The state also announced expansions of those who can get tests to those who may be asymptomatic but have had close contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus; household members of someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and the state is recommending those who may be asymptomatic in nursing homes or other places where people are in close settings be considered for testing. Read our story here.Lujan Grisham extended the state’s public health order until the end of April in order to continue social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19. Read our story here.The New Mexico Department of Health announced the death of a fifth person with COVID-19.

NM COVID-19 cases crosses 300; five have now died

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Tuesday that a fifth person with COVID-19 died in New Mexico. 

She said in a press conference that he was a man in his 40s. The Department of Health said he was from Bernalillo County and died on Sunday, March 29 and had an underlying health condition. In addition, she announced 35 new total cases, bringing the state total to 315. DOH announced that 24 people are hospitalized in New Mexico. This includes those who tested positive in other states but are now in New Mexico, but not those who tested positive in New Mexico but are in hospitals in other states.

County clerks ask NM Supreme Court to allow primarily mail-in election

County clerks petitioned the state Supreme Court for an emergency order that would allow the state to move to a primarily mail-in election for the June 2 primary. The clerks, and Secretary of State, say that conditions under the COVID-19 restrictions make it “impossible to lawfully administer” this year’s primary elections. The petition, signed by 27 of the state’s 33 clerks, including five Republicans, said running a regular election would force clerks to decide between following the Election Code or protecting “the health and safety of their community, their voters, their staffs, and themselves.”

To do so, the petition asks for each county clerk to be able to send voters ballots by mail, along with a pre-paid envelope to respond. Voters would still be eligible for replacement of provisional ballots. It would also provide for alternative locations for those who require in-person assistance, such as those with disabilities or those who require language interpretation assistance.

DOH: Two more deaths related to COVID-19; 44 new positive cases

The New Mexico Department of Health announced on Monday that two more people who tested positive for COVID-19 died in New Mexico, both in Bernalillo County. 

The state says both cases were females, one in her 90s and one in her 70s. Both died on Monday. The state says both had been hospitalized and had underlying medical conditions. That means that four people have died in New Mexico with cases related to COVID-19. Update (3/31): NM COVID-19 cases crosses 300; five have now died

The start also announced another 44 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of positive cases in the state to 281.

Metro Detention Center says an inmate tested positive for COVID-19

Bernalillo County announced Monday that an inmate at the Metropolitan Detention Center tested positive for COVID-19. The county said MDC learned of the positive test on Sunday and the patient is now isolated and receiving treatment from the detention center’s medical team. Four MDC staff are now self-isolating after coming into contact with the inmate. The detention center says inmates are being monitored, but none are currently exhibiting symptoms.

According to the release, the inmate was booked on Thursday, March 26 and did not exhibit any symptoms of COVID-19, which are a fever, coughing and shortness of breath. The jail learned two days after the inmate arrived that the inmate’s mother was hospitalized and tested positive for COVID-19; the inmate had been caring for his mother.