The state Department of Health on Monday confirmed two assisted living centers in Santa Fe have reported a total of 10 new cases of the novel coronavirus among residents and staff.

The Governor’s Office reported over the weekend there were outbreaks at MorningStar Assisted Living and Memory Care and Pacifica Senior Living but did not note the number of cases at each facility.

Department of Health spokesman David Morgan provided data showing three residents and two staff members at MorningStar had tested positive for the virus, and two residents and three staff members at Pacifica tested positive.

The new outbreaks in Santa Fe come as the state sees growing numbers of congregate care resident and staff infections and increasing patient deaths from COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus. As of Monday, there were 749 confirmed cases at 37 facilities — 442 residents and 307 staff members, according to the state Department of Health.

Novel coronavirus infections in long-term care homes and assisted living centers are a fraction of the cases across the state — 7 percent of positive test results — but the disease has been deadly for residents in such facilities.

Department of Health data shows 114 people in the state have died after testing positive in a nursing home, retirement center or another type of residential care facility. That’s 42 percent of the 270 total COVID-19-related deaths in New Mexico.

Susie Peterson, executive director of MorningStar, declined to comment on the confirmed cases at the Santa Fe center and directed questions to the facility’s corporate office.

Lorna Lee, a MorningStar spokeswoman, said additional coronavirus tests are pending after all 34 staff members and 36 residents of the assisted living center were tested Friday.

“The first batch of 23 tests have been processed by the state’s COVID lab. The second batch are expected by Wednesday, May 20,” Lee wrote in an email.

Tommy Aragon, executive director of Pacifica Senior Living, could not be reached for comment. Staff at Pacifica corporate offices in San Diego did not respond to requests for comment.

Morgan said all patients and employees at both facilities are now required to be tested weekly.

Albuquerque’s La Vida Llena retirement community was the first residential care facility to report an outbreak of COVID-19. As of Monday, 18 residents of the community had died, according to the state. Genesis HealthCare’s Uptown Rehabilitation Center, also in Albuquerque, has had nine deaths, and The Village at Alameda has had seven. Four other Albuquerque centers have reported a combined eight deaths.

Meanwhile, residential facilities in Farmington, one of the hardest-hit areas of the state, have seen a much higher rate of patient deaths. Life Care Center of Farmington has had 34 deaths from an outbreak that has infected 84 residents and 35 staff members. Cedar Ridge Inn, another Farmington congregate care facility, has had 22 deaths with 68 resident infections and 46 staff members testing positive so far. Wellbrook Rehabilitation Center has had two deaths.

Life Care Centers of America, the Phoenix-based company that owns the facility, did not return a phone call seeking comment Monday.

Residential care facilities in Gallup also have seen rising rates of infections and deaths. Eight residents of Red Rocks Care Center have died, along with three at at a senior living center called Little Sisters of the Poor. Sundance Care Home has had two deaths.

Morgan said the Department of Health is doing weekly surveillance testing on all congregate care facilities to try to catch outbreaks early, and it sends in crews from the New Mexico National Guard to sanitize facilities with positive cases.

“Our investigations to date have found the vast majority of these facilities fully compliant with sanitation standards,” Morgan said. “But again, it’s asymptomatic people combined with the ease in which COVID-19 seems to transmit that is the main challenge.”

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(1) comment

Barbara Harrelson

Thank you for following up on this data. Earlier reports of cases at care homes were lacking in details, and this additional information is helpful.

Welcome to the discussion.

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