COVID-19 cases surge 71.3% in New Mexico, weekly case counts increased in 31 counties

Mike Stucka

New coronavirus cases leaped in New Mexico in the week ending Saturday, rising 71.3% as 16,269 cases were reported. The previous week had 9,500 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19.

New Mexico ranked No. 9 among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest, a USA TODAY Network analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the latest week the United States added 1,184,520 reported cases of coronavirus, an increase of 16.5% from the week before. Across the country, 44 states had more cases in the latest week than they did in the week before.

Within New Mexico, the worst weekly outbreaks on a per-person basis were in Cibola, Chaves and McKinley counties. Adding the most new cases overall were Bernalillo County, with 4,984 cases; Dona Ana County, with 2,210 cases; and Santa Fe County, with 1,077. Weekly case counts rose in 31 counties from the previous week. The worst increases from the prior week's pace were in Bernalillo, Dona Ana and McKinley counties.

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The share of New Mexico test results that came back positive was 19.4% in the latest week, compared with 8.7% in the week before, a USA TODAY Network analysis of COVID Tracking Project data shows. In the latest week, 83,669 tests were administered; a week earlier, that figure was 109,728. Experts say it is important to look at the share of tests that come back positive, not just case counts, to get a better idea of whether the rate of new infections is changing or if differences in testing are playing a role.

A health care professional collects a sample during the free testing site for COVID-19 on May 5, 2020 at Shiprock High School in Shiprock.

The World Health Organization says places should be conducting enough tests to have fewer than 5% coming back positive. Places where the percentage is higher could struggle to complete contact tracing soon enough to prevent spread of the virus.

In the state, 142 people died in the latest week. In the previous week, 104 people died.

A total of 79,440 people in New Mexico have tested positive for the coronavirus since the pandemic began, and 1,350 people have died from the disease, Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the United States 12,088,410 people have tested positive and 255,861 people have died.