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Seven more Taos Living Center residents have died of complications related to COVID-19 in less than a week, for a total of 14 deaths this month.

Updated Nov. 24 at 4:20 p.m.

This month’s outbreak of the novel coronavirus at Taos Living Center continues to take lives at an alarming rate.

A little more than 19 percent of the resident population at Taos Living Center has died after developing COVID-19, and over 60 percent are still battling the deadly disease caused by the virus.

Since last Tuesday (Nov. 17), Taos Living Center Administrator Dave Armijo said the number of residents who have died has doubled in less than a week – with seven new deaths since that time, for a total of 14 fatalities as of Monday (Nov. 23).

Sixty-one residents – or around 84 percent of the original 72 residents who had been housed at the long-term care facility – have become infected with the virus this month. Some are in critical condition, while 17 are in various stages of recovery.

“Some residents have been hospitalized,” Armijo said. “Every resident living in TLC has predisposed conditions and every resident diagnosed with COVID-19 is considered critical care.”

Armijo said deaths among residents are reported immediately to the New Mexico Department of Health. Although the state has lagged behind the most recent counts, it has been catching up in the last several days, and showed a total of 14 deaths in Taos County as of Tuesday (Nov. 24). The death of a woman in her 90s from Taos Living Center was reported on Monday.

Employees at Taos Living Center have also been impacted by the virus, though so far with less serious results.

Armijo said 21 staff members are currently infected, with “22 employees who have made a full recovery,” he said. None of the infected employees have been hospitalized or have died. Contract workers hired at the facility have all tested negative, he added.

Armijo previously speculated that the virus entered the facility via an asymptomatic employee, who was tested in a routine protocol. Results through TriCore, a company processing coronavirus specimens in New Mexico, did not return a positive result for five days, Armijo said.

By that time, the virus had spread widely throughout the facility, infecting elderly residents susceptible to developing deadly cases of COVID-19.

Armijo's facility has been in constant contact with state agencies, like the New Mexico Department of Health, since the pandemic began earlier this year.

Inspections conducted by the department have all come back with perfect scores, finding no deficiencies regarding protocols meant to keep the virus out of nursing homes in the state. A letter from Maurella Sooh, district operations bureau chief with the department, reported that a Nov. 18 inspection of Taos Living Center also showed no deficiencies.

But with cases reported at 124 long-term care facilities in New Mexico in the last 28 days, it’s clear that there’s only so much that can be done to keep the virus away from the state’s most vulnerable population.

Reporting from the health department shows that 68 percent of people in New Mexico to die of the virus have been 65 years or older, comprising 841 of 1,236 total deaths in the state.

A study conducted this month by CBS News found that New Mexico was among 20 states to see infections among nursing homes residents multiply by a factor of four and deaths among residents more than double in November.

(1) comment

Juliann Barbato

Terrible news. Will our governor be the next Emmy winner . . . ?

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