Counties in northwest part of the state see surge in COVID-19 cases | KOB 4

Counties in northwest part of the state see surge in COVID-19 cases

Joy Wang
Updated: April 15, 2020 11:14 PM
Created: April 15, 2020 10:24 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.— The northwest corner of New Mexico—San Juan, McKinley, and Sandoval counties—is seeing a rapid growth of COVID-19 cases.

The virus does not discriminate, so why do certain demographics see higher cases of COVID-19? Some days, 75 percent of new cases in our state have been from counties in the northwest.

“This area of the state has a higher rate of people with low income,” explained Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase. “There's less access sometimes to medical care, food, to housing, so it's a very, very vulnerable population. We're doubly concerned to see the rate of cases in this part of the state combined with these other social determinants and these economics factors that may make people more vulnerable.”

“The COVID-19 virus really laid bare I think inequities that have always existed in our community,” said Sovereign Hager with the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty. “You know the fact that we don't have a system that ensures basic needs are met by everyone in our community.”

Certain underlying conditions are more prevalent in Native American communities because of a systemic lack of access to health care. That population has 36 percent of the positive cases in our state.

“Native American communities have not received the same economic opportunities as other parts of our state,” explained Hager. “The fact that food and health care have not been available to those communities in the same way they have in other places means that in a situation where we have a public health emergency impacts are going to be felt greater in places where our system has not um been working well.”

The state has stepped up by delivering resources and thousands of meals to tribal communities. The health department said it has conducted extensive testing in Native American communities where clusters of cases exist.

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