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COVID-19 cases surge 17.4% in New Mexico, rise in San Juan County


Mike Stucka  |  USA TODAY NETWORK
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New coronavirus cases leaped in New Mexico in the week ending Saturday, rising 17.4% as 9,575 cases were reported. The previous week had 8,153 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19.

New Mexico ranked No. 25 among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest on a per-person basis, a USA TODAY Network analysis of Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the latest week the United States added 1,698,484 reported cases of coronavirus, an increase of 18% from the week before. Across the country, 46 states had more cases in the latest week than they did in the week before.

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Testing has changed around the holidays, making comparisons difficult. Labs and testing sites closed. People traveled or prepared for the holidays instead of getting tested. Some counties and states didn't report data as quickly.

Within New Mexico, the worst weekly outbreaks on a per-person basis were in San Juan, Rio Arriba and McKinley counties. Adding the most new cases overall were Bernalillo County, with 2,792 cases; Dona Ana County, with 994 cases; and San Juan County, with 923. Weekly case counts rose in 22 counties from the previous week. The worst increases from the prior week's pace were in Bernalillo, Dona Ana and Santa Fe counties.

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The share of New Mexico test results that came back positive was 11.5% in the latest week, compared with 11.4% in the week before, a USA TODAY Network analysis of COVID Tracking Project data shows. In the latest week, 83,487 tests were administered; a week earlier, that figure was 71,422. 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.

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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.

Across New Mexico, cases fell in 10 counties, with the best declines in Curry, McKinley and Lea counties.

In New Mexico, 198 people were reported dead of COVID-19 in the week ending Saturday. In the week before that, 218 people were reported dead.

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A total of 154,954 people in New Mexico have tested positive for the coronavirus since the pandemic began, and 2,732 people have died from the disease, Johns Hopkins University data shows. In the United States 22,132,396 people have tested positive and 372,428 people have died.