COVID-19 by the numbers
New Mexico health officials reported 165 more positive tests for COVID-19 yesterday, bringing the state total to 6,096. McKinley County continues to have a high number of new cases: 67, followed by San Juan County with 43. There were 21 new cases among people being held by the New Mexico Corrections Department at the Otero County Prison Facility.
The state also announced five more deaths in Bernalillo, McKinley and San Juan counties. As of today, 213 people are hospitalized and the health department has designated 1,796 COVID-19 cases as recovered.
City facing $100 mil deficit
As its revenues continue to decrease, the City of Santa Fe now appears to be facing a $100 million deficit for Fiscal Year 2021. "We're deeply affected by this summer's cancellations of major income-producing events," Mayor Alan Webber said yesterday morning during a virtual briefing, referring to major summer cancellations such as the Santa Fe Opera and Santa Fe Indian Market. The $100 million is on top of shortfalls to the current fiscal year, estimated at $46 million. The city has already furloughed more than 1,000 employees. In a social media post yesterday, the city says the shortfall "will require us to have a unique budget process, involving a much more interactive and collaborative approach." To that end, it has launched the first survey of what it says will be a series of surveys assessing the community's attachment to various services, such as trash pick up, libraries, senior citizen support and transit.
US Senate pushes bill for student internet
New Mexico's two US senator, Democrats Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, along with 44 other Senate Dems, have introduced the Emergency Educational Connections Act, focused on making sure K-12 students have home internet access during the pandemic. The bill doubles a previous $2 billion appropriation request. According to a news release from Udall's office, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the "digital divide" for the 12 million US students who don't have home internet and can't complete their homework. "For Santa Fe Indian School, on-line teaching and learning as well as remote mental health services, hinge on the ability to use the internet to connect to our students across 22 reservations in New Mexico…Native students deserve to have the same opportunities as students on the other side of the digital divide," SFIS Superintendent Roy M. Herrera said in a statement.
AG considers nursing home investigation
The New Mexico Attorney General's Office said yesterday it's considering a request by state Rep. Gregg Schmedes, R-Tijeras, to investigate the eviction of senior residents with disabilities at Canyon Transitional Rehabilitation Center to make room for COVID-19 patients. Schmedes made the request Friday, writing in a letter, "I find such disregard for the health and safety of these elderly patients to be unconscionable and this type of eviction involving our state's most vulnerable seniors must never be allowed to occur again." According to a KRQE report, all 54 patients at the center were evicted in April as part of an agreement with state health officials to house COVID-19 patients as soon as possible.
As with most sectors, philanthropy has had its own set of issues to address during the COVID-19 pandemic. For May's "Community Matters," the KSFR monthly public affairs program produced by the Santa Fe Community Foundation, SFCF Chief Executive Officer Bill Smith hosts a discussion with fellow community foundation leaders who share the challenges their communities face around food security and other issues, as well as the initiatives community foundations have undertaken. The New Mexico Coalition of Community Foundations created the the All Together NM Fund, which awarded $550,000 for food assistance from unemployed New Mexicans earlier this month and announced $750,000 for grants to help New Mexico micro businesses.
Outdoor equity fund
Applications for the Outdoor Equity Fund to support New Mexico's outdoor recreation economy opened yesterday and are now available online. SFR wrote about the new Outdoor Recreation Division last year, as well as the fund, which was created to provide more equitable access for youth to the outdoors. Las Cruces City Councilor Gabriel Vasquez, who helped push for the fund's creation, told SFR at the time that, "We wanted to be the first in the nation to do this as a way to really build social and environmental justice into an office of outdoor recreation." Grants of $1,500 to $15,000 will be awarded to local government, state agencies, tribes, pueblos, and nonprofits who have a plan to educate low-income youth (age 18 and under) about climate change and the environment as part of its outdoor recreation program. More details available here.
How to BBQ
Hard to imagine a time in which cookbook author, barbecue genius and all-around food aficionado Cheryl Alters Jamison might be unfamiliar with any type of cooking, but there was and that type of cooking was barbecue. "I had no idea what barbecue was," Jamison tells SFR. "I thought it was a sloppy joe thing with sauce." A family trip through Georgia and a stop at a roadside barbecue joint changed that perception. Fast forward to today and Jamison has just released a new book,Texas Q: 100 Recipes for the Very Best Barbecue from the Lone Star State, All Smoke-Cooked to Perfection. A veritable tour through Jamison and her late husband Bill's hard-won barbecue knowledge, the book features sections for equipment, rubs, sauces, starters, sides, desserts and even vegetarian options—it's like Jamison's love letter to a food she discovered as a kid and never got over.
Ready for rain
While most surprises lately have been of the "look, a giant swarm of moths" variety, the unexpected chance of rain today is a welcome shocker. It's true: Today's forecast includes a chance for "isolated sprinkles" after 3 pm. Otherwise, mostly sunny, with a high near 82 degrees and north wind 5 to 15 mph becoming south in the afternoon.