Nearly 300 new cases of COVID-19 in NM, as state processes record number of tests

On Saturday, the state Department of Health announced that 291 people tested positive for COVID-19, once again setting the standard for the second-most confirmed cases in a single day in New Mexico. The number came as the state reached a new single-day high in COVID-19 tests. Additionally, the state announced two additional deaths related to the disease. 

Of the tests that were part of Saturday’s announcement, the positivity rate was 3.26 percent, similar to those in recent days, but still up from the record lows earlier this month. 

As of Saturday, the state has now recorded 13,063 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 513 deaths related to the disease. Of the state’s confirmed cases, 1,446—or 11.1 percent—have come in the last seven days. Saturday’s numbers included 79 cases in Bernalillo County, 56 in Doña Ana County, 34 in McKinley County, 25 in Lea County, 21 in San Juan County, ten in Cibola County and 10 in Eddy County. 

Cases have dramatically spiked in Bernalillo County, as well as areas bordering Texas, which includes Doña Ana, Eddy and Lea counties.

COVID-19 cases continue to rise: DOH reports 257 new cases and 8 related deaths

State health officials announced Friday 257 new cases of COVID-19 and eight deaths related to the disease heading into the Fourth of July weekend. The largest increases in new cases were in Bernalillo, Doña Ana and McKinley counties, three counties that have seen more new cases each day this week. Five of the eight new deaths were in McKinley County. The state also announced 11 new cases at the federal Torrance County Detention Facility. In all, five counties had double-digit rises in new cases. 

Friday’s number of new cases represent the highest single-day increase since June 5, when the state saw a record 331 new cases reported.

State not releasing COVID-19 numbers for county jails

As COVID-19 numbers continue to rise within state-run detention centers across New Mexico, namely in Otero County, the numbers for county jails often go overlooked by the general public. 

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office reports the number of positive cases within state and federal detention centers daily. Her office also includes the number of congregate care facilities that have seen positive tests in the last 28 days. But those daily reports do not include any information on the roughly half a dozen county jails around the state. 

According to the state Department of Health, those numbers are purposefully left out of daily reports because state officials think they would add more confusion than clarification. 

During a news conference on Wednesday, NM Political Report asked Lujan Grisham why the state was not releasing COVID-19 numbers for county detention centers. She said even though the state is collecting those numbers they are not released in daily updates from her office. Without clarifying the reason for not including those numbers in the updates, she said the data is there. 

“We know by zip code, we know by, often, occupation, we know by correctional facility, we know whether it’s staff or it’s an inmate, whether in a nursing home, whether it’s staff or a resident, we are and we continue to refine getting the data,” Lujan Grisham said. 

Immediately after the news conference, NM Political Report requested that data from Lujan Grisham’s office, but was told by a DOH spokesman that any request for county detention center data would need to be requested from the counties themselves. 

David Morgan, a spokesman for DOH, said the information would have to come from the counties that oversee each regional detention center and would likely require an official records request pursuant to the state’s Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA).

Bernalillo County reaches new record of COVID-19 cases; state hits second-highest daily number

The New Mexico Department of Health announced nearly 250 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19, including nearly 100 in Bernalillo County and more than 40 in Doña Ana County. The state also announced three additional deaths related to the disease. The news came a day after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that the state would not ease restrictions and said that those who do not wear masks would be subject to $100 fines. The state now has found 12,520 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and identified 503 deaths related to the disease. The 248 new cases was the second highest single-day number, following only June 5, when the state announced 331 confirmed cases, which included large increases in the Otero County Prison Facility.

NM hits 500 total COVID-19 deaths

New Mexico Health officials announced Wednesday an additional three deaths related to COVID-19, bringing the total number of deaths to 500. 

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham also announced the new numbers during a news conference on Wednesday and called the number of deaths a “grim milestone.”

“Every single one of these is an incredible loss to the families and loved ones and to the entire state,” Lujan Grisham said. “And I know that it goes without saying that everyone mourns these losses and we send our condolences to the families.”

The most recent deaths related to COVID-19 are as follows:

A male in his 60s from McKinley County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions.A female in her 80s from McKinley County who had underlying conditions.A male in his 70s from Bernalillo County who was a patient at the Princeton Place facility in Albuquerque. State officials also announced an additional 130 cases of COVID-19 in the state for a total of 12,276 cases since the disease was first reported in the state in March. According to health officials there are 127 people currently being hospitalized for COVID-19, with 38 of them on ventilators. There are 5,514 cases that are deemed recovered, an increase of 121 since Tuesday, according to health officials.

DOH: 168 new COVID-19 cases, including new high in Lea County, four additional deaths

The New Mexico Department of Health announced on Tuesday 168 additional cases and four deaths related to the disease. Lea County saw a large increase in cases to 19, more-than-double the previous high of eight cases, which occurred on June 20 and June 22. The county now has 132 total confirmed cases of COVID-19. Bernalillo County, once again, had the most new cases in the state with 36, while Curry County again had a double-digit number of new cases, for the second day in a row; six counties in all had increases of ten or more confirmed cases on Tuesday. The newly reported cases bring the total number to 12,147 in the state, with 497 deaths.

A ‘win’ for abortion rights Monday doesn’t mean fight is over, say advocates

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of abortion rights Monday and struck down a Louisiana law in June Medical Services LLC v. Russo, but the “win” could be short-lived, say abortion rights advocates. The 5-4 decision brought an end to the legal battle over whether Louisiana’s 2014 law, that forced abortion providers in that state to obtain admitting privileges to a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic, is constitutional. The court, through Justice Stephen Breyer’s opinion, noted that the Louisiana law poses a “substantial obstacle,” to women seeking abortion, offered no significant health-related benefits nor showed evidence of how the law would improve the health and safety of women. But, Chief Justice John Roberts, who sided with the more liberal wing of the court, wrote a concurrence in which he made clear he only voted in favor of June Medical Services because of precedent. The court decided an almost identical case involving a Texas Law four years ago with Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt.

Judge denies PED motion to dismiss Yazzie/Martinez suit

The plaintiffs in a long-running court case on New Mexico’ education funding and policies were dealt two wins on Monday. State district judge Matthew Wilson denied a motion by the state to dismiss a pending years-old lawsuit against the New Mexico Public Education Department that said the state did not do enough to provide an adequate education to students. 

Wilson’s ruling means the court will continue to monitor the case until a complete overhaul of the state’s education system is complete. Wilson also approved a motion from the plaintiffs to allow further discovery in the case to gauge how much improvement the state has made since a court order in 2018. “There is a lack of evidence in this case that the defendants have substantially satisfied this court’s express orders regarding all at risk students,” Wilson said. “The court’s injunction requires comprehensive educational reform that demonstrates substantial improvement and that these students are actually college or career ready.”

Monday’s hearing was the latest in the ongoing case that involves two different lawsuits filed against PED in 2014.

FEMA ordered $10.2 million in COVID-19 testing kits it’s now warning states not to use

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has warned states not to use COVID-19 testing supplies it bought under a $10.2 million contract after a ProPublica investigation last week showed the vendor was providing contaminated and unusable mini soda bottles. A FEMA spokeswoman said the agency is working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to analyze test tubes filled with saline and sold to the government by Fillakit LLC, whose warehouse is near Houston. “Out of an abundance of caution, we recommend this media not be used at this time,” spokeswoman Alex Bruner said.

Cases in NM continue to rise, including uptick in Santa Fe County

State health officials reported Sunday afternoon 192 new cases of COVID-19 and one related death. Five counties reported double-increases in new cases: Bernalillo, San Juan, McKinley, Doña Ana and Santa Fe. It’s the first time Santa Fe County has reported a double-digit increase in new cases since March. 

The state’s total tally for COVID-19 now stands at 11,809. The state said the death was a male in his 50s from Doña Ana County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions. A total of 492 individuals have now died due to the disease. 

The state Department of Health said there are currently 114 individuals hospitalized in New Mexico for COVID-19, a decrease of 8 since Saturday, the lowest number since April 19.