COVID-19 testing to expand across southern New Mexico

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The US and New Mexico flags fly before the upcoming mid-term elections in Albuquerque, New Mexico on October 1, 2018. (Photo by Mark RALSTON / AFP) (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP via Getty Images)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico health officials are partnering with the federal government to expand COVID-19 testing across the southern part of the state.

The state Health Department said the effort is aimed at driving down positivity rates in counties that are currently on the “red” list. Once a county improves, it moves to the “green” list and some restrictions can be relaxed.

Starting Thursday, the Health Department will open 12 new testing sites in areas where positivity rates have skyrocketed. That includes Las Cruces, Clovis, Hobbs, Carlsbad, Portales and several other locations.

New Mexico’s confirmed COVID-19 cases has topped 50,250, while deaths related to the virus and hospitalizations remain high.

The state and its testing partners have processed more than 1.1 million tests since the onset of the pandemic.

Lt. Gov. Howie Morales said more testing doesn’t lead to more cases.

“More testing helps us identify who is positive and ensure they are informed and are isolated before they spread the virus throughout the community,” he said. “Testing is an important tool in helping us cut down the spread.”

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