COVID-19 by the numbers
Over the weekend, New Mexico health officials reported 308 new positive test results for COVID-19, bringing the total caseload thus far to 10,565. The state had 172 new cases on Saturday and 136 on Sunday.
Of those new cases, 105 were among people held in either federal or state custody at the Otero County Prison facility. Specifically, 96 were New Mexico Department of Corrections inmates and nine were federal. That prison now has a total of 687 cases.
McKinley County had 60 new cases, 30 reported each day.
As of today, 134 people are hospitalized and the health department has designated 4,684 cases are recovered. In a briefing with news media on Friday, Health and Human Services Secretary David Scrase discussed the state's criteria for recovered cases, noting that cases are only certified as recovered for people who remain in contact with health officials. The "biggest gap between total cases and recovered cases is not the people in the hospital; it's people who didn't complete the follow-up," he said.
Santa Fe County, which had nine new cases over the weekend—five on Saturday and four on Sunday—now has had a total of 196 cases, 113 of which have been designated as recovered.
The state also announced five more deaths, two on Saturday and three on Sunday. Four of those deaths were in McKinley County and one was in San Juan County. New Mexico has now had 469 fatalities.
While Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber called for the removal of the Plaza obelisk last week, it's unclear who actually has the authority to remove the monument. "No one can determine who it belongs to," the governor's spokesman, Tripp Stelnicki tells the Albuquerque Journal. "It might belong to the state, it might be the city, nobody knows." New Mexico's Territorial Assembly voted in 1866 to erect the marker honoring Union soldiers in the Civil War, but under whose domain it currently lies remains unclear. Meanwhile, various petitions launched over the weekend engaged in the dialogue surrounding historic figures and monuments. One petition, launched by the Piñon Post blog, urges the mayor and City Council to stop removal of the monuments. Another petition, spearheaded by author James McGrath Morris, proposes changing the name of DeVargas Center, a mall named after former Spanish colonial Governor Diego de Vargas Zapata y Luján Ponce de León y Contreras. The city removed a statue of de Vargas last week from Cathedral Park.
State Senate has left the building
The New Mexico state Senate wrapped up its work over the weekend, sending a $7 billion budget bill to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham that cut approximately $6 million in spending to address the state's economic shortfall stemming from both the COVID-19 pandemic and the drop in oil and gas revenues. Legislators will have a new $1.7 billion shortfall to address for the new fiscal year that starts in July, which they will have to take up when they meet again in January. Meanwhile, state House members remain in session to vote on several Senate-approved bills addressing police, institutional racism and small businesses. An election-related bill that had originally failed to pass the House was reconsidered on Saturday, passed and now heads to the governor; Senate Bill 4 primarily creates emergency provisions COVID-19 for 2020 elections, but notably also allows voters who are not registered to a major party to change their party affiliations on election day at the polls, thus allowing them to vote (New Mexico has a closed primary system, which means only registered members of the state's major parties can participate in primary elections).
The Reporter obtained video and documents that provide a more detailed picture of a Santa Fe Police shooting earlier this month in the parking lot outside the Big R on St. Michael's Drive. Last week, State Police released the names of the officers who fired and provided more information about their investigation. SFPD, meanwhile, brought six charges against Joseph Galassini, 33: aggravated battery with a deadly weapon; aggravated assault with a deadly weapon; aggravated assault upon a peace officer with a deadly weapon; battery; assault; and shoplifting. Bystander video footage indicates armed store employees attempted to intervene after Galassini shoplifted a jacket from the store. Galassini was armed with some sort of knife or machete and, according to the State Police, ordered to drop his weapon numerous times and was shot when he was in arm's length of one of the officers.
Episode 78 of "Your New Mexico Government" looks at both the current special legislative session and last Saturday's Juneteenth celebration. Guests include: Hosanna Scott and Kieran Freeman of Black Voices ABQ; KUNM's Nash Jones; National Education Association of New Mexico President Mary Parr-Sanchez; Andy Lyman from NM Political Report; and New Mexico state Sen. Cliff Pirtle, R-Roswell, who suggests that small businesses closed by COVID-19 emergency measures could be paid reparations by the state. "Your New Mexico Government" is a collaboration between SFR, KUNM and New Mexico PBS.
O’Keeffe Museum lays off 45
The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum confirmed Friday it had laid off 45 people as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. "It was definitely COVID, and we've been hit hard like most of our peers have," Communications Manager Micaela Hester tells SFR. Hester says the layoffs became inevitable as the museum lost its earned revenue. Overall, she says, the O'Keeffe had planned on receiving roughly 5 million visitors this year, "but now we've had to shrink that down to one-and-a-quarter-million." While museums remain closed under the state's current emergency health orders, Hester says the O'Keeffe is working on its own best-practices for when it is allowed to reopen. "We are in the process of planning to reopen and of how we fold in the COVID Safe Practices, and we're doing surveys," she says. "If you go to our website, you can take a survey about your safety expectations, but the bottom line is, we're going to reopen when we feel we can safely do it."
MLG still a contender
The New York Times takes a look at a dozen female leaders in the running as Joe Biden's vice presidential pick for the November election. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham makes the list and is being considered "pretty seriously" according to the story: "Lujan Grisham, 60, is probably the top candidate among the governors and she has been asked to submit documents for vetting." Lujan Grisham's pros, the article posits, include being the only Latina leader in the mix whose presence would give Biden more traction in the Southwest. On the con side, she is less well known than some of the other contenders.
Waiting on monsoon season
It was hot over the weekend and it's going to be hot today as well: Forecasts call for mostly sunny skies with a high near 92 degrees and northeast wind 5 to 15 mph becoming west in the morning. On the bright side, we have a 40% chance of precipitation tomorrow, with predictions of scattered storms and thunderstorms. Here's hoping!
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story contained inaccurate information about Pirtle's committee assignments.