COVID-19 by the numbers
Over the weekend, state health officials announced a combined 132 new positive tests for COVID-19, bringing the total to 624 from the 19,136 tests that have been performed so far. Ten new positives for Santa Fe County were reported over the weekend, where there are now 62 cases. Officials also made known two new deaths from the virus, bringing the state's fatalities to 12. A total of 45 people have been hospitalized in New Mexico for COVID-19 and the health department has designated 130 COVID-19 cases as having recovered. Read the weekend breakdown here.
Yesterday, the City of Santa Fe said it's extending its closures of rec centers, libraries and other public facilities through May 10. Most city meetings will continue to be held virtually through that time. On Friday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, along with state health officials, announced that the state will be extending its stay-at-home orders through April, and also discussed its preparations at hospitals and healthcare facilities as the state readies for surges in the coming weeks. Also yesterday, President Donald Trump approved a state of disaster declaration for New Mexico, which will allow federal assistance for the state.
Indian Market postponed
On Saturday, the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts announced it is postponing by a year the August 2020 Indian Market. That decision also means the centennial event is now scheduled for 2022, leaving countless Indigenous artists from around the country without one of their largest moneymaking opportunities of the year. "It was a devastating decision," SWAIA Board Chairman Thomas A Teegarden tells SFR. "This year is a going to be a huge financial blow for a lot of people, so it was not a decision we took lightly." Artists who were already accepted into this year's market can assume they are automatically accepted into the 2021 market, and full refunds will be made available for booth fees (or applied to the following year's fees).
The giving time
In the last few weeks, Thornburg Foundation and the Santa Fe Community Foundation have given more than $300,000 to local nonprofits to help them support those impacted by COVID-19. Last week, SFCF distributed its second round of nearly $70,000 in awards to 16 groups, including Esperanza Shelter and Communities in Schools New Mexico. On March 24, Thornburg Foundation announced $240,000 in grants to support nonprofit organizations serving the homeless, the hungry, children and families, including the Food Depot, Kitchen Angels and St. Elizabeth's Shelters. Thornburg also contributed $10,000 to SFCF's COVID-19 Response Fund.
EPA rolls back regs during COVID-19
Last week, the US Environmental Protection Agency announced that in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is allowing regulated industries to use their own discretion to report violations of clean air and water laws. Lawmakers say they weren't informed of this decision prior to receiving an email in which it was presented as a fait accompli, with US Sen. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico, calling the new policy a "green light" for polluters to act without fear of penalties, putting the environment and public health at risk. The policy also burdens already overwhelmed state regulators. Currently, the entire New Mexico Environment Department workforce is telecommuting, Sec. James Kenney told NMPBS in an interview this week, and one-quarter of those 525 employees are actively focused on COVID-19.
UNMH starts clinical trials
The Daily Lobo reports that the University of New Mexico Hospital has begun a trial for hydroxychloroquine, normally used to treat malaria and lupus, to determine its efficacy in treating the novel coronavirus; the hospital also has plans for an upcoming trial for remdesivir, an antiviral developed during the 2015 Ebola epidemic. Dr. Michelle Harkins, chief of the pulmonary and critical care group at UNMH, said consumers shouldn't take hydroxychloroquine outside of prescriptions. "The problem is a number of patients take this medication for underlying rheumatologic problems," Harkins told the Lobo. "If we ramp up and use this drug indiscriminately—not knowing if it works—then that's going to become a problem because there will be a shortage."
Episode 35 of "Your New Mexico Government" turns to a very relatable topic: how COVID-19 is shifting people's lives and perspectives. KUNM's Nash Jones reports on delivery drivers experiencing a significant shift in the urgency and necessity of their work. Executive Producer Marisa Demarco speaks with community organizers who create gatherings around art, culture and music. Host Khalil Ekulona invites friends and family to reflect on their internal shifts.
On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines advising the use of cloth face masks in public in response to increasing evidence that a significant number of asymptomatic individuals have and are spreading COVID-19. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham also on Friday encouraged people to use cloth masks (and asked people to not use N95 surgery masks, which are in limited supply and needed by healthcare workers). Local mask makers have been on the case, making, donating and selling handmade cloth masks by the dozens. Want to make one yourself? La Familia Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Dr. Wendy Johnson recommends this site for a free pattern; the clinic has been seeking donations of masks it provides to its more vulnerable and homeless populations, as well as other supplies.
Day (and night) at the museums
IAIA's Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, the New Mexico Museum of Art and the Museum of International Folk have been devising new programs and opportunities—all in virtual space. For instance, MoCNA offers a virtual reality tour of one of its newest exhibits: Indigenous Futurisms: Transcending Past/Present/Future (we have tips for how you can make your own VR glasses). The Museum of Art is offering behind-the-scenes looks at exhibits and kicking off a #nmavirtualexhibit series for artists on its Instagram page. And the Folk Art museum has virtual tours, extended online experiences, docent blogs, potential video series and a new YouTube channel that already boasts 47 videos with curators, artists and others.
Get into the kitchen
We've all become home chefs of late, including commercial chefs. The Albuquerque Journal checks in with notable owner/chefs Louis Moskow of 315, Cafe Pasqual's Katharine Kagel and Enrique Guerrero of Bang Bite Filling Station to literally find out what's cooking. 315 is offering various frozen take-out options (frozen gourmet dumplings, potstickers and sauces, for example), while Bang Bite is all about creative sandwiches (the You Are My Boy Burger includes bacon, Amish blue cheese, maple-bacon jam and garlic aioli). Kagel closed her take-out operation but offers a wealth of advice for shopping and cooking at home. Lettuce soup? Yes.
The joys of spring
Wasn't yesterday beautiful? An acute reminder that everything is better sans wind. Today's forecast calls for more of the same: mostly sunny, with a high near 67. Easy breezy in the afternoon: north wind 5 to 10 mph becoming southwest 10 to 15 mph in the afternoon. Those gusts we know and loathe may return on Wednesday and, as of now, we could receive some showers and thunderstorms later in the week. So enjoy (at a six-foot distance) being outside today if you can.