The New Mexico Department of Health confirmed Wednesday that Santa Fe County has had its first death tied to COVID-19.
While the state would not provide the name of the woman in her 90s who tested positive for the illness at Advanced Health Care in Albuquerque, Santa Fe resident Kay Lockridge said she is certain the woman was her partner, longtime activist and photographer Roslyn “Roz” Pulitzer, who died April 30 of pneumonia.
Pulitzer had been recovering at Advanced Health Care from a fall sustained in February at her Santa Fe home.
She is one of 76 New Mexicans at congregate care facilities — a combination of nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, behavioral health treatment centers and assisted-living communities — who have died from COVID-19.
Lockridge said she was told by officials at Advanced Health Care that Pulitzer tested positive for the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, on April 22.
Earlier this week, Lockridge said, Pulitzer was transported to University of New Mexico Hospital after developing complications from the respiratory illness.
At the time, state officials said they could not confirm the death was related to the pandemic.
On Wednesday, however, Nora Meyers Sackett, a spokeswoman for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, said the delay in reporting the death was due to a clerical error. The Department of Health receives reports of COVID-19-related deaths from hospitals and other health care providers, she said.
State health officials on Wednesday said New Mexico has had 4,291 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and 169 deaths from COVID-19. Nearly 45 percent of the deaths were residents of congregate care facilities where outbreaks have occurred.
Data provided by the Department of Health showed the number of residential facilities with confirmed cases of the virus had grown to 32; 11 of them had reported a combined 76 deaths as of Wednesday, an increase of more than 52 percent from a week earlier when the state reported 50 deaths in congregate care.
The worst outbreak so far has been at Life Care Center of Farmington, which has reported a total of 102 infected residents and staff and 31 patient deaths.
La Vida Llena, a retirement center in Albuquerque, saw the first major outbreak and has since reported 73 resident and staff infections and 17 deaths.
Cedar Ridge Inn in Farmington, which has had 86 positive test results for patients and staff, has had nine deaths so far, while Genesis HealthCare’s Uptown Rehabilitation Center in Albuquerque has had seven deaths, and the Central Desert Behavioral Health Center, also in Albuquerque, has had four.
Pulitzer was one of two patients at Advanced Health Care to die from COVID-19. As of Wednesday, 18 residents and 23 staff there had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to state data.
After her fall, Pulitzer spent several weeks at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center and at a local rehabilitation center before being transferred to Advanced Health Care for treatment in early April, Lockridge said.
Sackett did not respond to questions late Wednesday on what the state plans to do to address the rising number of cases of COVID-19 at congregate care facilities.
Last week, the governor, whose mother lives in a nursing home, said the surge in deaths of residents at such centers is “incredibly disturbing because it’s all vulnerable populations.”
The state plans to increase oversight and testing in those types of homes, she said.