When it comes to COVID-19 in New Mexico, the good news is that it could be worse. At least that was the general tenor of comments at Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's weekly news conference this afternoon.

"Today was not the worst news," Lujan Grisham said, announcing 255 new positive tests for COVID-19. Those new cases bring the statewide total so far to 20,388. Of those, the health department has designated 8,015 as recovered.

Nonetheless, while the last few days indicate New Mexico's COVID-19 spread may be stabilizing, daily case counts and other factors remain too high for comfort. As such, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham extended the current public health order for a month—through Aug. 28.

The governor also announced there had been three more deaths in McKinley and San Juan counties. There have now been 635 fatalities. As of today, 156 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, 33 on ventilators.* A complete breakdown of new cases and fatalities is available at the end of this story.

As the chart of the state's seven-day averages of daily positive cases shows, the last few days shows a dip. It's "too early to declare victory," Human Services David Scrase said, "but generally things have stabilized. They've stabilized at a very, very high level, higher than I think we can sustain in managing, but the good news is it's not going up."

In actual good news, Scrase said hospitalizations are not increasing proportionally to cases at the same rate they had earlier in the pandemic.

"Early on in the pandemic, everything seemed to go up together," Scrase said. "…This time we saw a huge increase in the number of cases [330 on July 15], but only 157 hospitalizations, and that is really, really good news because part of what we're trying to do is avoid our hospitals being overrun…We're pleased and relieved were not seeing a proportional increase in hospitalizations because our ICUs would have been full."

Scrase also detailed new additional gating criteria the state will be using to mark its progress at curtailing COVID-19's spread. Until now, the state has primarily been tracking the effective rate of transmission, contact tracing efficacy, testing capacity and hospital/PPE resources. Now, officials also will take stock of the state's daily case counts on a seven-day rolling average, along with its test positive rate on the same time scale. For the latter, the state wants to remain below 5%, the World Health Organization standard, which indicates adequate testing has been done. New Mexico has not yet confirmed what its gating criteria will be for daily cases.

Both Scrase and the governor discussed contact tracing, where the state is still not meeting its goals of contacting and isolating people who have tested positive, as well as those they may have infected, within 24 and 36 hours, respectively. Scrase said the health department has hired and trained contact tracers and those numbers should continue to improve. The governor, however, said people are not necessarily returning or responding to contact tracers' calls.

When she was the state's health secretary, Lujan Grisham said, she was "pleasantly surprised" to by the efficacy of contact tracing for sexually transmitted diseases. "When you do the contact tracing [for STDs]," she said, "people are very complaint. They want to get treated. They want to get it resolved, and it was not as uncomfortable as I'm making this sound for a lay person involved in that effort."

Not so for COVID-19, she said. "I want to really encourage people. Your information is kept private." But without knowing possible transmissions to others, the state will have a hard time controlling the spread, she said. Scrase also detailed the different ways in which people might be asked to isolate or quarantine if they are exposed to COVID-19, with 10 days of isolation for people who are sick, but 14 days of quarantine to match the incubation period of the illness.

While the extended health order keeps all current restrictions in place, it does streamline the categories of business operations, according to a news release. Wineries and distilleries will now be classified alongside other food and drink establishments such as restaurants, meaning they may operate under the same requirements: Outdoor and patio seating is permitted while indoor seating and service is not and outdoor tables must be separated by 6 feet of distance.

The governor also will be renewing her executive order mandating a temporary quarantine for individuals traveling into the state.

New cases

  • 63 new cases in Bernalillo County
  • 17 new cases in Chaves County
  • 12 new cases in Cibola County
  • 6 new cases in Curry County
  • 22 new cases in Doña Ana County
  • 3 new cases in Eddy County
  • 1 new case in Grant County
  • 15 new cases in Lea County
  • 3 new cases in Lincoln County
  • 1 new case in Los Alamos County
  • 1 new case in Luna County
  • 35 new cases in McKinley County
  • 2 new cases in Otero County
  • 7 new cases in Rio Arriba County
  • 3 new cases in Roosevelt County
  • 14 new cases in Sandoval County
  • 22 new cases in San Juan County
  • 1 new case in San Miguel County
  • 15 new cases in Santa Fe County
  • 2 new cases in Socorro County
  • 2 new cases in Taos County
  • 1 new case in Union County
  • 4 new cases in Valencia County
  • 2 new cases among New Mexico Corrections Department inmates at the Lea County Correctional Facility
  • 1 new case among New Mexico Corrections Department inmates at the Otero County Prison Facility

New fatalities

  • A female in her 70s from McKinley County. The individual had underlying conditions.
  • A male in his 70s from McKinley County. The individual was hospitalized and had underlying conditions.
  • A female in her 80s from San Juan County. The individual was hospitalized and had underlying conditions.

Congregate facilities

The Department of Health has identified at least one positive COVID-19 case in residents and/or staff in the past 28 days at the following facilities:

  • The Adobe in Las Cruces
  • The Aristocrat Assisted Living Center in Alamogordo
  • Avamere Rehab at Fiesta Park in Albuquerque
  • Bear Canyon Rehabilitation Center in Albuquerque
  • BeeHive Homes of Farmington in Farmington
  • Bloomfield Nursing and Rehabilitation in Bloomfield
  • Bonney Family Home in Gallup
  • Brookdale Juan Tabo Place in Albuquerque
  • Casa Contenta Assisted Living in Rio Rancho
  • Casa del Sol Center in Las Cruces
  • Casa de Oro Center in Las Cruces
  • Casa Real in Santa Fe
  • Cedar Ridge Inn in Farmington
  • Clayton Nursing and Rehab in Clayton
  • Crane’s Roost Care Home in Aztec
  • Desert Springs Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Hobbs
  • El Castillo in Santa Fe
  • GoodLife Senior Living in Carlsbad
  • Good Samaritan Society in Las Cruces
  • Life Care Center of Farmington in Farmington
  • The Meadows Home at the New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute in Las Vegas
  • Montebello on Academy in Albuquerque
  • The Neighborhood in Rio Rancho
  • New Mexico State Veterans’ Home in Truth or Consequences
  • North Ridge Alzheimer’s Special Care Center in Albuquerque
  • Princeton Place in Albuquerque
  • Retirement Ranches, Inc. in Clovis
  • Retreat Healthcare in Rio Rancho
  • The Rio at Las Estancias in Albuquerque
  • Rio Rancho Center in Rio Rancho
  • Sagecrest Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Las Cruces
  • Sandia Ridge Center in Albuquerque
  • Sombrillo Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Los Alamos
  • Sierra Health Care Center, Inc. in Truth or Consequences
  • Sierra Springs Assisted Living in Los Lunas
  • Spanish Trails Rehabilitation Suites in Albuquerque
  • Sunset Villa Care Center in Roswell
  • Taos Living Center in Taos
  • Welbrook Senior Living Las Cruces in Las Cruces
  • Wheatfields Senior Living in Clovis
  • White Sands Healthcare in Hobbs

Statewide cases

According to a state news release, previously reported numbers included three cases that have been identified as duplicates: two in Bernalillo County and one in Curry County; these have now been corrected. County totals are subject to change upon further investigation and determination of residency of individuals positive for COVID-19.

  • Bernalillo County: 4,688
  • Catron County: 4
  • Chaves County: 317
  • Cibola County: 318
  • Colfax County: 13
  • Curry County: 431
  • Doña Ana County: 2,139
  • Eddy County: 239
  • Grant County: 66
  • Guadalupe County: 31
  • Harding County: 1
  • Hidalgo County: 85
  • Lea County: 596
  • Lincoln County: 91
  • Los Alamos County: 18
  • Luna County: 220
  • McKinley County: 3,977
  • Mora County: 6
  • Otero County: 178
  • Quay County: 31
  • Rio Arriba County: 292
  • Roosevelt County: 134
  • Sandoval County: 1,063
  • San Juan County: 2,986
  • San Miguel County: 41
  • Santa Fe County: 550
  • Sierra County: 28
  • Socorro County: 73
  • Taos County: 91
  • Torrance County: 59
  • Union County: 25
  • Valencia County: 346

Cases among people being held by federal agencies

  • Cibola County Correctional Center: 266
  • Otero County Prison Facility: 278
  • Otero County Processing Center: 159
  • Torrance County Detention Facility: 43

Cases among people being held by the Mexico Department of Corrections

  • Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Valencia County: 25
  • Lea County Correctional Facility: 4
  • Northeast New Mexico Correctional Facility in Union County: 1
  • Northwest New Mexico Correctional Center in Cibola County: 1
  • Otero County Prison Facility: 470
  • Penitentiary of New Mexico in Santa Fe County: 1
  • Western New Mexico Correctional Facility in Cibola County: 3

*Per the health department, hospitalization figures include people who were tested elsewhere but are hospitalized in New Mexico, but don't include people who were tested here but are hospitalized out of state.