COVID-19 by the numbers
New Mexico yesterday announced it had reached 315 COVID-19 cases, with 35 new positive results, as well as the state's fifth death: a Bernalillo County man in his 40s who died last Sunday. Santa Fe County had four new cases, bringing the total here to 42. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced the newest figures in an hourlong public talk in which she and Human Services Secretary David Scrase shared forecasts for the state based on modeling the existing data. The state, Scrase said, is planning for a worst-case scenario: 250,000 to 1.25 million cases and potential significant shortages in necessary hospital resources. Officials stressed the need for people to keep social distancing, and shared the state's middling grade from a social distancing scoreboard tracking public movement through location data.
The state has performed 13,240 tests thus far—and has one of the highest testing rates in the country—but Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel said she expects a significant increase in the coming week as the state's national laboratories get involved. With increased capacity, Kunkel announced an expansion of existing criteria to allow testing for asymptomatic people who have had contact with others who tested positive, as well as asymptomatic people in congregate settings in nursing homes. And she said the state would no longer require a doctor's referral for testing. The health department maintains a list of testing sites here.
Health authorities discuss pandemic
Medical authorities will discuss New Mexico's readiness for COVID-19 during a 90-minute panel discussion that livestream tonight from 6:30 to 8 pm on ABQJournal.com. Panelists include Human Services Secretary David Scrase; Presbyterian Healthcare Services CEO Dale Maxwell; Dr. Paul Roth, chancellor for Health Sciences and CEO of the UNM Health System; and Ron Stern, president and CEO of Lovelace Health System. They will further discuss hospitals' capacity statewide and expectations regarding COVID-19's trajectory here.
COVID-19 order excludes bicycle shops
You can still get your car fixed during the COVID-19 pandemic, but bicycle repair shops are not considered an essential business under Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's current order. Mellow Vello owner David Bell has challenged that exclusion, writing to state officials that "Every State in the Union allows bicycle stores to remain open, except New Mexico." Bell goes on to write that, "Allowing a Lexus dealer in Santa Fe to stay open, but disallowing a bicycle store to operate in the same way is CLASS WARFARE. Is it the Governor's belief that bicycle riders have less of a need for mechanical/safety support than a car driver?" A summary of state closure orders for bike repair shops compiled by the League of American Bicyclists shows Arizona, Colorado and Texas consider bicycle maintenance shops either essential or do not have restrictions against them remaining open.
Republicans object to absentee voting request
Yesterday, the state Republican Party filed a lawsuit in New Mexico's Supreme Court attempting to block election officials' request for an all-absentee ballot election for the state's June 2 primary. In a news release, the GOP said it opposed the request by the state's county clerks "because the method offers no ballot security and could lead to voting violations." Republican Party of New Mexico Chairman Steve Pearce said votes can't be monitored in a mail-in ballot election, and that "many states that use this process can scan the ballots for security, but New Mexico doesn't have the technology. Vote-by-mail is inclusive and you cannot check signatures, whereas you must apply for an absentee ballot, which is tracked and requires identification."
Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, who supports the clerks' request for a mail-in ballot, also issued a press release that details how the election would work and notes that the "request of the court is part of a contingency planning strategy that the state's election administrators have been working on since before the first cases of COVID-19 appeared in New Mexico."
Episode 32 of "Your New Mexico Government" focuses on New Mexico's homeless population during COVID-19. Guests include: Johnathon Stubbs, who has experienced homelessness; Albuquerque Journal writer Elise Kaplan talking about her story, "Exposed and at risk"; and Mesilla Valley Community of Hope's Nicole Martinez discussing measures being taken in Las Cruces to help flatten the curve. The show also features CYFD Secretary Brian Blalock, Albuquerque Healthcare for the Homeless Policy Director Rachel Biggs and Lisa Huval, the City of Albuquerque's deputy director of Housing and Homelessness. "Your New Mexico Government" is a collaboration between SFR, KUNM and New Mexico PBS.
While film production in New Mexico remains at a standstill due to COVID-19, Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven) hasn't forgotten the state where the show was supposed to start filming its next season. Brown donated the equivalent of 20,000 meals to The Food Depot writing on Instagram that her "thoughts are with the great people and crew from Santa Fe…whom we didn't yet get to meet in our company move on Stranger Things." The financial contribution is great, says Food Depot Director of Development Jill Dixon, and also "it's so important for those of us who have voices that people listen to to speak out. I think she really took the initiative to do that." You can donate to Food Depot, which is doing invaluable work during this crisis, here.
Meow Wolf reading list
While you obviously can't visit Meow Wolf right now, you can delve into the books that inspired many of its artists. Senior Narrative Director Joanna Garner curated a reading list of "Stories to Bend Your Mind," and ones that influenced her and other Meow Wolf staffers in their work. For Garner, it was House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski, which she describes as "a labyrinthine book told in layers of narrators and storylines, the words architected on the page to reflect the characters' discovery that a family's house is bigger on the inside, by miles, than it looks on the out." Garner thought of the book the first time she visited Meow Wolf's House of Eternal Return.
Today's forecast calls for a partly sunny day with a high near 68 degrees. Northwest wind 5 to 10 mph will become west 15 to 20 mph in the morning. Tonight, it might actually rain a teensy bit (The National Weather employed the term "sprinkles," but that makes the Word think of ice-cream toppings). As of now, tomorrow looks about the same, except with the possibility of gusting winds tomorrow afternoon.
Thanks for reading! The Word agrees this is not the year for April Fools' jokes, was unaware of all these previous corporate pranks and may or may not wade through this academic study parsing April Fools' jokes as a lens through which to examine disinformation, depending on whether or not she can keep her eyes open long enough to read it.