New Mexico ranks high for coronavirus diagnosis rates

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A rolling average of daily statewide deaths from the coronavirus has surpassed 25 as New Mexico nears the end of a two-week period of heightened restrictions.

Virus-related deaths on Sunday included 60-year-old middle school teacher Sylvia Garcia of the Las Cruces area. Las Cruces Schools Superintendent Karen Trujillo described Garcia as a “beloved, veteran educator with deep roots in this district.”

“We are devastated,” Trujillo said in a statement.

The seven-day rolling average of daily deaths in New Mexico has risen over the past two weeks from 14.9 deaths per day on Nov. 14 to 25.3 deaths per day on Saturday, according to an analysis by The Associated Press of data collected by Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering.

New Mexico also ranks among the worst 10 states in diagnosis rates for COVID-19, with one out of every 144 people diagnosed with the virus from Nov. 21 through Saturday. North Dakota had the highest rate, with 1 out of 119 residents diagnosed with the virus.

The state plans to switch to a county-by-county risk evaluation system on Wednesday. The administration of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says that will allow local communities to shed burdensome restrictions when public health data show the virus is retreating locally.

State health officials on Sunday announced 1,443 newly confirmed virus cases and 13 related deaths. The tally included 15 new cases among inmates at the Guadalupe County Correctional Facility. Since the pandemic’s start, 1,540 deaths are linked to the virus statewide.

The rolling average of daily new coronavirus cases in New Mexico has risen over the past two weeks from 1,357 new cases per day on Nov. 14 to 2,077 new cases per day on Saturday. Comparing seven-day averages of new cases smooths out anomalies in the data, including delays in test results.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

New Mexico on Saturday reported 2,142 additional known COVID-19 cases and 23 new deaths. The statewide totals increased to 93,982 cases and 1,527 deaths. Friday saw New Mexico report a daily record 35 deaths.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher than reported because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

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