- Associated Press - Saturday, September 12, 2020

New Mexico officials on Saturday reported 100 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases, including the second in a rural county that went months without any reported cases.

The cases reported Saturday raised the statewide total to 26,661 cases. Three additional deaths raised the death toll to 821.

De Baca County in thinly populated cattle country of east-central New Mexico on Thursday lost its status as the only county in the state without a reported COVID-19 case.

Fort Sumner, the county seat of De Baca County, is 143 miles (230 kilometers) east of Albuquerque.

De Baca County stood alone without a reported COVID-19 case for two months after Mora County reported its first on July 10.

As of Saturday, only two other counties, both in rural northeastern New Mexico, still had case totals in the single digits: Harding with two and Mora with seven.

The state reported its first three COVID-19 cases on March 11.

Bernalillo County (Albuquerque), Dona Ana County (Las Cruces) plus McKinley (Gallup) and San Juan (Farmington) counties in northwestern New Mexico together account for over 16,500 cases, or about three-fifths of the current statewide total.

The deaths reported Saturday included a man in his 60s from Bernalillo County, a man in his 70s from Lea County and a man in his 30s from McKinley County.

According to Johns Hopkins University data analyzed by The Associated Press, seven-day rolling averages for New Mexico of new daily cases and daily deaths both dropped over the past two weeks.

The average of daily new cases went from 138 on Aug. 28 to 88 on Friday while the average of new deaths went from 4.3 to 3.6.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some - especially older adults and people with existing health problems - it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

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