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‘It gives me hope’: NMSU sees low virus positivity rate a month into semester

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico -- Four weeks after students' return to campus, New Mexico State University has had a total of 16 people test positive for the virus, according to data shared with ABC-7.

"I really have a good feeling about it," said NMSU Police Sgt. Stephen Cary. "It gives me hope that people are taking it seriously."

The university currently tests about 100 people a week, according to the Aggie Health and Wellness Center. With the help of TriCore Reference Laboratories, NMSU hopes to test 250 people a week by October.

"Aggies help Aggies," said Lori McKee, the director of the Health and Wellness Center. "Right now, we have to do what we need to do to keep all of us safe."

NMSU's positivity rate has hovered at about 1 percent since school started, according to data McKee shared with ABC-7. She credits widespread testing and the university's mask policy.

"At NMSU, we understood early on that we've got a great community of people and the vast majority of people care about each other and want to do the right thing," said NMSU Police Chief Stephen Lopez, who estimates there are as many as 6,000 people on campus every day.

Lopez told ABC-7 that his officers have yet to encounter someone who refuses to wear a mask on campus. In the past four weeks, they've given out 5,000 masks.

"Out of those people that our officers are approaching, it's not students," Lopez said. "It's usually members of the general public who are coming on to campus."

When ABC-7 shadowed Sgt. Cary this week, every single student he encountered was wearing a mask. There were two people fishing at the pond on campus that did not bring masks, but took the masks when offered.

"We want people to come to New Mexico State, but we want them to come and be safe," McKee said. "We want them to protect our students and staff that are here. When you're on campus, you have to be masked up."

Coronavirus Video / New Mexico / News / Video

Kate Bieri

Kate Bieri is ABC-7’s New Mexico Mobile Newsroom reporter and co-anchors ABC-7’s weekend evening newscasts.

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