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Governor expands mass gathering restrictions


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State officials Saturday announced 86 new cases of COVID-19 and one new fatality, as the virus continues to take its toll on New Mexico, with one new case reported in Chaves County and new restrictions statewide by the governor.

With Easter Sunday approaching, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s Office announced in a press release that a public health order restricting mass gatherings to fewer than five people has been expanded to include houses of worship, which had previously been exempted from the order.

Many New Mexico congregations though had already canceled in-person services before the expanded order was announced.

Lujan Grisham has on previous occasions urged New Mexicans to stay home during the Easter weekend.

“I understand the tremendous social and spiritual burden that places on New Mexicans, but ultimately we must do everything we can to limit the spread of COVID-19, including being absolutely clear that mass gatherings of any type are not permitted in houses of worship,” Lujan Grisham said in a press release announcing the expanded ban.

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So far, 1.7 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed around the world, including 524,903 in the U.S., according to the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center.

New Mexico has now reported 1,174 confirmed COVID-19 infections and 20 deaths in the one-month period since the first positive test result was announced in the state, according to the New Mexico Department of Health’s press release.

The New Mexico Department of Health reported new cases in 12 counties, including one new infection in Chaves County. As of Saturday, Chaves County has had 19 known infections.

The death toll in New Mexico from the disease also increased Saturday with the death of a male in his 70s from San Juan County who had been hospitalized. San Juan County in New Mexico has the third-highest rate of infection in the state, outpaced only by Bernalillo and Sandoval counties, which have reported 422 and 199 infections respectively.

According to the press release, new COVID-19 infections announced Saturday include: 17 in Bernalillo County, one in Chaves County, one in Cibola County, five in Doña Ana County, one in Grant County, 27 in McKinley County, one in Quay County, 22 in Sandoval County, seven in San Juan County, two in Santa Fe County, one in Socorro County and one in Valencia County.

County totals are subject to change upon further investigation and after determining the residency of individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the release.

Figures reported Friday were corrected because the number in Bernalillo County included a duplicate case, an additional case in Bernalillo County that had not been confirmed through lab testing and one infection in Hidalgo County that has since been reclassified as a non-New Mexico case. According to the release, the errors have been corrected and the overall totals revised to reflect the corrections.

COVID-19 infections have also been identified in staff and residents at several congregant living facilities. The facilities are: Advanced Health Care of Albuquerque in Albuquerque, Aztec Health Care in Aztec, Beehive Homes in Farmington, Central Desert Behavioral Health in Albuquerque, Good Samaritan Manzano del Sol in Albuquerque, La Vida Llena in Albuquerque, Legacy Santa Fe in Santa Fe, Lifecare Farmington in Farmington and Uptown Genesis in Albuquerque.

As of Saturday, 78 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 in New Mexico, according to the press release. The figure may include people who tested positive for COVID-19 out of state but are hospitalized in New Mexico.

The figure though does not include New Mexicans who have tested positive for COVID-19 and were transferred to an out-of-state medical facility.

New Mexico Department of Health officials as of Saturday classified 235 COVID-19 cases as having recovered from the disease.

As of Saturday, 28,692 tests for COVID-19 have been conducted in New Mexico according to the Department of Health Coronavirus update webpage.

To keep up with local coverage of the coronavirus, go to rdrnews.com/category/news/covid-19-situation/.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext, 301, or breakingnews@rdrnews.com


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