Updated May 30 at 4:17 p.m.
A spokesperson for the New Mexico Department of Health said on Saturday (May 30) that the state was still working to confirm the 13 new positive cases of the novel coronavirus reported by Holy Cross Medical Center on Friday (May 30). The state's official total number of cases for Taos County remains at 25.
Holy Cross Medical Center reported 13 new positive cases of COVID-19 in Taos County on Friday (May 29), by far the single largest surge in cases the area has seen since the pandemic reached New Mexico three months ago.
The hospital's report also differs widely from another provided on Friday by the New Mexico Department of Health, which reported only one new case in Taos County. If the state is correct, Taos County would now have a total of 25 cases, but the hospital's data would bring the total to 36, a 56 percent increase based on the state's total of 24 as of Thursday (May 28).
Jodi McGinnis-Porter, a spokesperson for the state, said that the new cases will likely be reflected in a report to be published on Saturday (May 29). She said local testing sites receive news of test results first – before the state, which has to confirm the cases.
"Since the beginning, their numbers and our numbers haven't matched," said hospital CEO Bill Patten via phone Friday evening, adding that the hospital doesn't attempt to calcuate a total number of cases due to the discrepancy.
All 13 patients have been contacted and advised to self quarantine to prevent spreading the infection, Patten said. He did not have information as of Friday evening regarding whether the new patients are locals or tourists, their genders or their ages. The hospital was not providing inpatient care for any positive case of the novel coronavirus as of Friday.
Since the criteria to receive a test for COVID-19 has been relaxed, there has been an uptick in the number of people looking for one at Holy Cross.
A total of 1,679 tests had been conducted in Taos County as of Friday, he said, and the hospital has recieved 1,422 results. At a drive-through testing event held at Holy Cross Friday morning, Patten said staff collected 94 new specimens. About half of the people coming to be tested have symptoms, he estimated, and the other half do not.
It's unclear, however, whether the 13 new cases are the result of an increasing spread of the virus, or whether people just now seeking tests may have been infected but didn't know it.
Still, Patten said Taos County residents should remain vigilant. He expects the hospital will conduct another remote forum next week to address public concern over the spike in cases he reported on Friday.
This is a developing story.
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