COVID-19 by the numbers
Yesterday, New Mexico health officials announced 94 new positive COVID-19 tests, bringing the statewide total thus far to 10,153. The new cases included 20 in McKinley County, 13 in Bernalillo County and 12 in Luna County.
Santa Fe County had three new cases and has had 184 total as of yesterday, with 108 designated as recovered. Statewide, 157 people are hospitalized and the health department has designated 4,439 COVID-19 cases as recovered.
The state also reported four more deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities to 456.
The new cases were reported shortly following the New Mexico Department of Health and the New Mexico Environment Department issuing a smoke advisory for the Rio Grande Valley from Taos to Las Cruces and all surrounding communities through noon today due to smoke from multiple wildfires burning in Arizona and southwest New Mexico. According to a news release, smoke from wildfires may cause people who are infected with COVID-19 to have more severe reactions. People with severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing or chest pain should call 911 or go to the nearest hospital. More information about how smoke affects those sick with COVID-19 here.
Monument protest turns into celebration
What was originally planned as a protest against local statues codifying violence against Indigenous people instead became a celebration last night on the Santa Fe Plaza. Activist group Three Sisters Collective's Wednesday meeting with Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber and City Councilor Renee Villareal resulted in the mayor's decision to remove both the Plaza obelisk, which includes a racist inscription, as well as the one commemorating Kit Carson in front of the Santa Fe County courthouse. City workers removed a statue of Don Diego De Vargas from the Cathedral Park downtown just after daybreak yesterday and will be keeping it at an as-yet undisclosed location. While the Plaza obelisk remains for now, initial work has already begun for its removal. Following Webber's initial announcement, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham reportedly reached out to offer assistance and the monument was assessed by state contractors, who concluded their crane was insufficient for the task at hand due to the monument's heft.
State lawmakers returned to the Roundhouse yesterday to kick off a special legislative session originally intended to address New Mexico's budgetary fall-out but expanded to address a plethora of other issues, including police reform, elections and tax relief. Aside from a group of about 100 protesters, many in MAGA hats, calling for the Roundhouse to open its doors to the public (closed in response to COVID-19), lawmakers did not have to navigate the expected crush of protesters as they entered the building at noon to begin the session. Protester Elaine Maestas remained, holding a photograph of her sister Elisha, who was shot 21 times by three Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office deputies outside of her home less than a year ago. Deputies were not wearing body cameras, an issue front and center for this legislative session following George Floyd's murder by Minnesota police. Gov. Lujan Grisham has said she supports a statewide requirement for police body cameras, a move Maestas welcomes. "Our whole journey has been fighting for lapel cameras because there was no footage of that situation, and my cousin's word contradicts the words of the officers who opened fire on her, and so we believe it's very important that there is always footage in all situations," Maestas tells SFR. "With this George Floyd situation, it shows just how critical it is to have footage. It offers a non-biased view and that's what we've been fighting for."
US Supreme Court: DACA stays
The US Supreme Court yesterday rejected the Trump administration's attempt to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, which has allowed some 650,000 Dreamers who were brought illegally to the US as children to stay, attend school and work. The decision was celebrated throughout New Mexico, with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham saying the decision "is not only incredibly welcome, it is right and just and long overdue." New Mexico's Democratic congressional delegation issued similar statements with US Sen. Tom Udall noting, "Home is here for thousands of New Mexico Dreamers, and many more Dreamers across the country. Now, they can continue to live in the country they call home." Nonetheless, he said in a statement, "this decision should not be used as an excuse for Congress not to act to protect Dreamers permanently. It is long past time that the Trump administration and the Senate Republican majority stop holding Dreamers hostage and pass a path to citizenship."
Santa Fe Dreamers Project Executive Director Allegra Love also celebrated the decision, saying in a statement that "Santa Fe Dreamers Project celebrates alongside DACA recipients, their families, and the immigrant rights movement after this amazing and unexpected victory in the Supreme Court. Congratulations on your resilience and courage facing this moment." The organization's legal team is evaluating the decision's impact on its current DACA cases.
Episode 77 of "Your New Mexico Government" zeroes in on the New Mexico Legislature's special session, which kicked off yesterday. Guests include: Albuquerque Journal reporter Dan McKay; New Mexico PBS producer Matt Grubbs; New Mexico PBS correspondent Gwyneth Doland; and state Rep. Antonio "Moe" Maestas, D-Albuquerque. "Your New Mexico Government" is a collaboration between SFR, KUNM and New Mexico PBS.
Ready for the weekend
Whether you're in or out this weekend, Santa Fe has plenty on offer. You could attend an actual gallery opening this evening at KEEP Contemporary, which opens a new group show tonight called This, Too, Shall Pass featuring new works by Jesse Hazelip, Carlos Ramirez and Katy Kidd that explore ideas of justice, empathy and violence through multiple practices such as painting and assemblage. You could head online for the annual Native Treasures auction. You could take in some music on Dinner for Two's new patio (masked, natch), where DJ BadCat will be in residence. For deets on these events and more, check out SFR's picks, where we continue to offer ways to support the local culture scene in-person or from the comfort of your home.
State flags lowered for Juneteenth
State flags will be flown at half mast through sundown tomorrow in observance of Juneteenth. The event commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union Gen. Gordon Granger read the federal orders in Galveston, Texas, informing enslaved people in Texas they were free. "Juneteenth is a celebration of human dignity and freedom, but it's also a reminder of the dark and irrevocable original sin of this nation, the structural and social effects of which we are sadly still grappling with today," Gov. Lujan Grisham said in a statement. University of Texas at Austin history professor Dr. Daina Ramey Berry delves into Juneteenth's history and meaning in today's New York Times' daily podcast. Calls to make Juneteenth a national holiday are picking up steam.
We may have smoke in the air today through noon from fires burning here and in Arizona. Otherwise, today's forecast calls for a sunny day with a high near 86 degrees and southeast wind 5 to 10 mph becoming southwest 15 to 20 mph in the afternoon. If you like hot, dry and windy (for some reason), this weekend is for you as both Saturday and Sunday will be hot, dry and windy. Specifically, look for highs in the upper 80s tomorrow and the low 90s on Sunday.