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.

General Assignment Reporter

Robert Nott has covered education and youth issues for the Santa Fe New Mexican. He is assigned to The New Mexican's city desk where he covers a general assignment beat.

(10) comments

Al Chavez

One statistic that is encouraging for NM is that we are still one of the best states—7th as of today—for numbers of tests per million.

Sloan Cunningham

My heart is broken for Roz and Kay. After all they’ve been through together for Roz to be taken by #COVID19 is so painful. Many years of strong love and passion for life and Santa Fe and their beloved dogs and cats and friends. Fly high with the Dragonflies and Ravens Roz, you were cherished and will be deeply remembered.

Henry R.

My condolences to the partner, family and friends of Ms. Pulitzer.

Alfred Padilla

My condolences to her family & friends!

Lee DiFiore

I'm confused; how is a woman living at a senior care facility in ABQ "for most of April", who tested positive for covid on April 22, (past the 14-day incubation period) and died at UNM listed as a Santa Fe County covid death? So, if I lived in Santa Fe and went to Italy on vacation in February, contracted covid and died in Milan, I would be counted as a Santa Fe County covid death? Doesn't make sense.

Chris Morgan

And yet the people who read the headlines continue to push this paper's agenda. This reporter needs to correct this article and make sure that people who read his headline understand the truth.

I am so tired of the paper reporting the "number of cases" yet completely ignoring how many tests were necessary to get to these numbers. This gives readers a false sense that they understand how severe the problem is locally. Unfortunately, until there are randomized and controlled community studies, we just don't know the facts. Doubling the number of tests and getting the same 100-or-so positive cases is not real sceince, and warrants skepticism. Why not provide a real community survey?

In order to find solutions to this virus, it is important to start with the facts. This paper is not giving us the facts, just skewed and biased information that supports our leadership's agenda. And, I am beginning to question the merits of this agenda.

Al Chavez

You are correct about how many cases exist--we really don't know. But there's one statistic that's hard to argue with: the number of deaths in the state. Subtract the number of deaths likely to have happened anyway from other causes and you have those that can be attributed to C-19.

It's worth spending some time looking at day-by-day statistics at the Wikipedia site:

Click on all 4 categories simultaneously and see that we have not yet hit the peak yet.

Laurie Buffer

Good point and I agree - the headline is very misleading.

Laurie Buffer

this comment was actually in response to Lee's post above

Al Chavez

It's fair to count the death as SF County if that's where she caught the virus. That said, clearly in a mobile society counting deaths is more an art than a science.

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