SANTA FE – New Mexico has its first coronavirus death.
Health officials said Wednesday the man in his late 70s was hospitalized in Artesia on Sunday and died the same day. The state Health Department said he had multiple underlying health issues and his condition deteriorated rapidly.
Infections have climbed past 100 in the state with schools shut down and a stay-at-home order in effect. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said the death marks a tragic day and urged residents to take precautions to limit the spread of the virus and ensure the health care system won’t be overwhelmed
It was unclear where the man was living before his hospitalization and how he was infected.
The stay-at-home order in effect limits most gatherings to five people and closes nonessential businesses where work can’t be performed remotely.
“As we test more people in the state, we will see the number of infections rise. And as we see the number of infections rise, we are likely to see more death,” Lujan Grisham said. “Social distancing and isolation is the best tool we have right now.”
The action comes after a series of emergency public health orders that have closed down the state’s indoor shopping malls, gyms and movie theaters. Officials also have eliminated dine-in service at restaurants, bars and breweries. To prevent hoarding, the state is limiting purchases of over-the-counter medication and sanitary supplies to three items per retail customer.
Positive tests for infection have been concentrated in population centers including Albuquerque, Santa Fe and the Las Cruces area, with infections confirmed in 14 of the state’s 33 counties.
New Mexico is wrestling with limited supplies of personal protection equipment, as medical centers seek public donations of masks, gloves and robes and conserve what supplies they have.