COVID-19 growth rate higher in southeast New Mexico


NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – As New Mexico has seen a rise in COVID-19 cases, health officials are paying close attention to some of the hot spots. KRQE News 13 compared some of the recent case numbers to the daily tests being done in each county.

Health officials tracking this data say the daily case numbers in more populated counties like Bernalillo and Doña Ana are concerning because of how densely populated they are. They’re also keeping a close eye on what’s happening in the southeast part of the state.

“Lea County with an 8.6% daily growth rate over the past seven days, that’s an astronomical growth rate,” said Dr. David Scrase, Human Services Secretary, during a July 9 press conference. “You’ll see also that Eddy and Chaves and Otero are all well above the state average,” he added.

Los Alamos National Lab is helping the state track data and growth rates of COVID-19 in every region of the state. KRQE News 13 took a closer look at some of the numbers in those counties, including daily tests being done compared to the number of daily reported positive cases.

In Bernalillo County, for example, the Department of Health reported 3,061 tests were done on July 15, with 162 new cases reported. That amounts to 5.3% of people testing positive.

In some of the smaller counties in southeast New Mexico, significantly less testing is taking place, but a higher percentage of people are testing positive. Of the number of tests taken on July 15, Eddy County showed 18% of people test positive.

In Lincoln County, 13% tested positive, according to the state Department of Health numbers as of July 15. Lea County saw a spike last week with 27% of daily tests resulting in new cases.

“What we’re finding in New Mexico about the spread and this big uptick in cases we’re seeing right now is it really is related to people confusing gradual reopening with return to normal life,” explained Dr. Scrase. “So lots of events, Fourth of July weekend events, people out more – it’s really happening everywhere in the state,” he added.

Under the state’s gating criteria for reopening, the goal is to have a rate of spread of 1.05 or below. New Mexico’s rate of spread has been above that number since mid-June. The majority of New Mexico’s COVID-19 cases right now are in the 20 to 39 age group.

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