SANTA FE, New Mexico -- New Mexico health officials said Tuesday that the state's Covid-19 spread rate has increased slightly since early September.
If the curve starts to creep up as steeply as it did in late June and early July, it could be cause for concern, said Human Services Secretary David Scrase and state epidemiologist Chad Smelser during an afternoon briefing.
Their comments came as the state reported three new deaths and 110 additional virus cases on Tuesday. That brought New Mexico's pandemic totals to 854 deaths and 27,790 cases.
Of those 110 new cases, 18 occurred in Doña Ana County - bringing the county's cumulative case count to 3,165. None of the state's latest deaths happened in southern New Mexico.
Officials said the recent case increases were expected after some restrictions were lifted and it was likely that increased travel around the Labor Day holiday also played a role.
“People moving around and interacting person to person leads to more transmission,” Smelser said. “So whenever you do reopen, we do expect to see more cases. The question is -- and it’s not an easy question to answer -- when does it become a point at which you want to further restrict person-to-person interactions.”
KOB-TV in Albuquerque reported that there was a 1.9% positivity result of the tests analyzed in the daily report from the state between Monday and Tuesday.
As of Tuesday, 15,586 cases had been designated as recovered by the New Mexico Department of Health. That puts the state's recovery rate around 56 percent. There were also 69 people currently hospitalized statewide due to Covid-19.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham last week eased some virus restrictions due to the state’s progress, now allowing limited youth sports practices, camping at state parks, ice skating rinks to open and permitting visits to pumpkin patches.
Officials said Tuesday that the state continues to pursue a science-intensive decision process on reopening the economy that places a premium on public health and limiting coronavirus infections.
The state's current emergency health order limits businesses including retail outlets, private schools and indoor restaurant areas to 25% of maximum capacity, while hotels and lodges can seek certification for 75% occupancy. Masks are mandatory in public, with a 10-person limit on public gatherings and a 14-day self-quarantine requirement for travelers entering from high-infection rate states that currently include Texas, Arizona and California.
Below you can see county-by-county data for virus cases and deaths across New Mexico. The data comes from Johns Hopkins, so the numbers may lag a bit from what's reported by the state health department. (The Associated Press contributed to this report.)