SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico officials have announced that COVID-19 testing is now available for all workers in the state.
The New Mexico Department of Health said Monday testing would be open to any worker seeking a test, symptomatic or not — with an emphasis on the service industries as well as government employees and utility and construction workers.
New Mexico Department of Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel says the state has expanded drive-up testing sites can process insurance information and collect nasal swab samples while participants never leave their car.
Testing for the novel coronavirus in New Mexico has increased from limited testing in early March to around 20,000 a week. State officials want to test 7,500 people a day eventually as part of a plan to limit the spread of the virus while gradually reopening the economy.
New Mexico has more than 5,200 COVID-19 cases, after the confirmation of 143 new infections on Tuesday including two new cases at federal immigration detention facilities. State health officials announced 11 new deaths linked to COVID-19. The coronavirus has claimed at least 219 lives statewide.
Newly confirmed infections and deaths were concentrated in the northwest corner of the state, where the coronavirus has taken an outsized toll on the Navajo Nation.
In other coronavirus developments, philanthropic donations are allowing a hospital in an infection hot spot to hire an intensive care specialist after the departure last week of a crucial critical care physician.
A $10,000 donation from a relief fund created by former Gov. Bill Richardson and former Navajo Nation President Peterson Zah on Tuesday was aimed at helping quickly bring a new physician to oversee intensive care at Rehoboth McKinley Christian Hospital in Gallup.
The hospital is in upheaval amid a local surge in coronavirus infections that have sidelined staff. Medical workers last week urged the CEO of the nonprofit hospital operations company to resign, citing his decision to reduce the workforce at the 60-bed facility as the COVID-19 pandemic took root.
McKinley County accounted for five of the newly reported deaths and 43 new infections, rivaled only by hardships in adjacent San Juan County, which had 42 new infections and three deaths.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.