Numbers of new cases of COVID-19 continue to decline with 210 Saturday but nine deaths

The state of New Mexico started the month of August with 210 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 Saturday and nine deaths. The numbers of cases have started to trend downward after nearly a month of increasing. The number of cases Friday was 225, which was the lowest the number had been since July 5. But the nine related deaths on Saturday bring the mortality total to 651. The state’s Department of Health released the following details about the deceased:

A male in his 70s from Bernalillo County who had underlying conditions and was a resident of the Princeton Place facility in Albuquerque.A female in her 80s from Bernalillo County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions.

Nursing home secrecy compounded pain of COVID-19 death

Roslyn K. Pulitzer drew her final breath holding the ungloved hand of Kay Lockridge, her partner of 36 years, on the morning of Thursday, April 30, at the University of New Mexico Hospital’s intensive care unit in Albuquerque. 

“Roz knew I was there, although she couldn’t talk because of her breathing apparatus and mask,” Lockridge said. “She winked at me and squeezed my hand.”

Pulitzer was the first Santa Fe resident to die of COVID-19, according to the New Mexico Department of Health. She had turned 90 years old the previous Saturday but Lockridge couldn’t celebrate with her in person because Pulitzer was in quarantine for COVID-19 at the Advanced Healthcare Center of Albuquerque. In February, Pulitzer fell and fractured several ribs. At Christus St.

New COVID-19 cases in NM lowest since July 5

The New Mexico Department of Health announced 225 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, the lowest number since July 5. But the state also announced seven additional deaths related to the disease. In total, DOH has now found 20,600 confirmed cases and 642 deaths related to COVID-19. The total number of tests, 6,375, was the fewest since July 21. The 225 confirmed cases represented 3.53 percent of the total tests.

The confusing path to getting out of prison early

Unless he gets an early release, Stanley Ingram is set to leave state prison in about 100 days. His parole plan, he said, includes going to live with family in Tucumcari and trying to put his Associate’s degree in wind energy technology to use. Besides his two year degree, he also earned two occupational certificates in the same field and a certificate for completing drug treatment while in prison. He said after spending years in and out of prison and struggling with substance abuse, he’s ready to leave his old life, and even his own self, behind. 

“That old Stanley’s dead and gone,” Ingram said. 

There’s little doubt that Ingram has already received second, third and fourth chances before he began his latest stint in state prison. According to court records, Ingram violated probation numerous times after he was convicted of a handful of felonies, including burglary and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. 

Ingram’s record inside prison seems to show he’s made a turn, although there is enough in his prison disciplinary record to make his attempts at early release more difficult. 

He was able to appeal most of the infractions he faced inside.

Public health order extended as state focuses on aid

The state of New Mexico will extend its public health order with very little changes to the current  one, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Thursday. The state will still limit capacity at many locations, like places of worship and retail stores, and not allow indoor dining at restaurants, while keeping movie theaters closed and not allowing mass gatherings. Additionally, the state will still require all New Mexicans to wear face masks while in public. While the 14-day quarantine requirement for all travelers from other states remains in place, the governor said there would be some changes for those on necessary business and medical travel, likely announced on Friday. The public health order will also move wineries and distilleries into the same category as restaurants and breweries, which will allow them to serve customers outdoors, including on patios.

255 new COVID-19 cases in NM including uptick in McKinley County

The state Department of Health announced Thursday 255 additional COVID-19 cases which includes a new uptick in cases in McKinley County. McKinley County, which has grappled with one of the highest numbers of cases of COVID-19 in the state, had eight cases Wednesday and low double digit numbers Monday and Tuesday but the county had 35 additional cases Thursday. Only Bernalillo County, with 63 new cases, had a higher total, but Bernalillo County has a population that is nearly 10 times larger. The newly confirmed cases represented 3.6 percent of the 7,026 tests processed since Wednesday. Human Services Department Secretary Dr. David Scrase said in a press conference Thursday that the state aimed to keep that number below 5 percent, while Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham hoped it could drop below 3 percent.

‘New Mexico is leading the nation’: Renewables set to replace coal-fired San Juan Generating Station

With a unanimous vote Wednesday morning, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC) ended one piece of a year-long debate on the future of coal in the Four Corners region. The utility PNM, which is slated to exit the San Juan Generating Station in 2022, will now need to rely on 100 percent renewable energy and battery storage to replace the power generated at the coal-fired plant. 

Commissioners were faced with the tough decision of weighing the economic future of the Four Corners area with the climate goals of the landmark Energy Transition Act (ETA), a 2019 law which mandates the state move to 100 percent carbon-free electricity generation by 2050. 

“With all the facts put on the table, and all the facts that our hearing examiners worked on, we’re moving New Mexico forward,” said PRC chairperson Theresa Becenti-Aguilar during the meeting. “And the changing energy economy in the communities of the San Juan station—it’s happening, it’s moving today.”

The decision was lauded by a multitude of clean energy advocacy, environmental and grassroots community groups that called on the commission to approve the replacement power scenario proposed by the Coalition for Clean Affordable Energy. The proposal includes 650 MW of solar resources and 300 MW of battery storage resources, with 430 MW of solar and $447 million worth of capital investments located within the Central Consolidated School District in San Juan County. Another 520 MW of renewable energy and roughly $500 million of capital investment would be located in McKinley County and the Jicarilla Apache reservation in Rio Arriba County.

NM crosses 20,000 COVID-19 cases

Driven by continued increases in cases in Bernalillo County and a detention center in Cibola County as part of the second-most COVID-19 cases announced in a single day in the state, the state of New Mexico passed 20,000 total confirmed cases on Wednesday. The New Mexico Department of Health announced 352 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and six additional deaths related to the disease. The department has found 20,136 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 632 deaths related to the disease. The 352 reported cases of COVID-19 represent 4.54 percent of the 7,758 tests the state announced have been processed between the announcements on Tuesday and Wednesday. Bernalillo County, home of Albuquerque and by far the state’s most-populous county, had 87 new cases of COVID-19, but the Cibola County Correction Center had 76 new cases, more than any other county outside of Bernalillo on Wednesday.

The COVID-19 downturn triggers jump in Medicaid enrollment

Reversing a three-year decline, the number of people covered by Medicaid nationwide rose markedly this spring as the impact of the recession caused by the outbreak of COVID-19 began to take hold. Yet, the growth in participation in the state-federal health insurance program for low-income people was less than many analysts predicted. One possible factor tempering enrollment: People with concerns about catching the coronavirus avoided seeking care and figured they didn’t need the coverage. Program sign-ups are widely expected to accelerate through the summer, reflecting the higher number of unemployed. As people lose their jobs, many often are left without workplace coverage or the money to buy insurance on their own.

The color of COVID: Will vaccine trials reflect America’s diversity?

When U.S. scientists launch the first large-scale clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines this summer, Antonio Cisneros wants to make sure people like him are included. Cisneros, who is 34 and Hispanic, is part of the first wave of an expected 1.5 million volunteers willing to get the shots to help determine whether leading vaccine candidates can thwart the virus that sparked a deadly pandemic. “If I am asked to participate, I will,” said Cisneros, a Los Angeles cinematographer who has signed up for two large vaccine trial registries. “It seems part of our duty.”

It will take more than duty, however, to ensure that clinical trials to establish vaccine safety and effectiveness actually include representative numbers of African Americans, Latinos and other racial minorities, as well as older people and those with underlying medical conditions, such as kidney disease. Black and Latino people have been three times as likely as white people to become infected with COVID-19 and twice as likely to die, according to federal data obtained via a lawsuit by The New York Times.