COVID-19 by the numbers
New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 173 new positive test results for COVID-19, bringing the statewide total thus far to 11,982.
Bernalillo County had the most new cases, 45, followed by Doña Ana County with 35. Both San Juan and McKinley counties saw their numbers come down considerably from recent days with 13 and 11 new cases, respectively. Santa Fe County had six new cases reported yesterday and now has had 234 cases, of which 127 have been designated as recovered.
Statewide, 119 people were reported hospitalized yesterday—five more than the day prior. The health department has designated 5,296 people as recovered.
Court rejects Gov’s request to dismiss education lawsuit
First District Judge Matthew Wilson yesterday rejected Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's motion to dismiss the Yazzie/Martinez lawsuit. Under a 2018 ruling, the late Judge Sarah Singleton found that New Mexico was insufficiently educating Native American, special-education and low-income students. Lawyers for the state argued Lujan Grisham has addressed the court's order during her 18 months in office. Wilson agreed the state has taken action but said, "The state cannot be deemed to have complied with this court's orders until it shows that the necessary programs and reforms are being provided to all at-risk students to ensure that they have the opportunity to be college and career ready."
Four Democrat state House representatives issued statements supporting Wilson's ruling; Derrick J. Lente from Sandia Pueblo, Angelica Rubio from Las Cruces, Javier Martínez from Albuquerque and Micaela Lara Cadena of Mesilla noted jointly: "As products of public schools, we know first-hand the failures and opportunities within our public education system. While there's been progress in terms of investments in education, much more remains to be done, particularly as we strive to build an anti-racist, fully-funded education system that all our kids in New Mexico deserve."
SFPS solicits input on school re-openings
Santa Fe Public Schools parents and staff have until noon on Thursday to provide feedback to SFPS, via a survey sent by email, about which type of educational model it should use for the upcoming school year: in-person, remote or a hybrid combination of the two. Students have until July 6 to weigh in; the district will present its plan to the state Public Education Department next month. SFPS Superintendent Veronica García says the district is open to being flexible with schools and having a variety of options. "We need a lot more information for planning so that we can offer options that will allow us to bring more kids in a face-to-face model and still accommodate parents who are uncomfortable and have concerns about sending their kids back to school," she said. The state recently released guidelines for districts to re-open starting Aug. 3, which call for all districts to begin in hybrid mode. Today at 3 pm, PED and Lt. Gov. Howie Morales will host a virtual Educator Town Hall on the school re-openings. You can register here.
Santa Fe Promise
The City of Santa Fe is doubling down on its efforts to make sure residents and visitors are wearing masks and observing social distancing as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Santa Fe County. Mayor Alan Webber recently noted the new uptick in the daily number of cases, and says state health department data does not show these cases are coming from tourists. SFR also recently queried the state about all of Santa Fe County's cases between June 9-21 and learned none had come from tourists. Yesterday, the city announced it is giving away masks at visitor centers, hotels and retail stores around the city. By signing the "Santa Fe Promise," people can commit to behaving as if they have the virus, maintaining social distance, wearing a mask, patronizing businesses that also take the promise and promising "to practice patience, compassion, empathy, connection, respect and love."
On the most recent edition of New Mexico In Focus, correspondent Russell Contreras talks with Elizabeth Groginsky, the first secretary of New Mexico's newly minted Early Childhood Education and Care Department, about her plans for creating a cohesive early childhood system in New Mexico. Gwyneth Doland talks with Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber about his approach to controversial monuments; and correspondent Laura Paskus continues discussions with journalists covering COVID-19, checking in with former Santa Fe New Mexican reporter Andrew Oxford, now with the Arizona Republic.
The revised COVID-19 induced deadline to file one's state taxes approaches: July 15. However, New Mexicans now have until April 15, 2021 to pay either individual or corporate state income tax—without penalties—as long as they file on time. The adjustment is part of House Bill 6, which Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed yesterday. The bill also doubles state gross receipts tax distributions from online sales that municipalities and counties will receive in the coming fiscal year from $24 to $48 million. Thirdly, the bill exempts federal CARES Act payments to certain New Mexico health care providers from gross receipts taxes so that more of that funding can be used for direct services to New Mexicans in need of healthcare. "The sudden and drastic economic turn caused by the pandemic hit a lot of New Mexicans hard," said Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, a bill sponsor, in a statement. "The relief offered through this bill will give taxpayers an additional year to recover financially without having to worry about tax penalties and interest. And, given the massive fiscal hits to our local governments, distributing an additional $24 million to our cities and counties from internet sales is critical relief to help avoid massive cuts and layoffs."
From San Fran to T or C
Where does a San Francisco art institution go when COVID-19 forces a move? Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. Or at least that was the case for Darryl Smith, who moved to T or C earlier this year and opened the 801 gallery. The gallery showcases many well-known Bay Area artists, whose work Smith began showing in San Francisco in the late 1980s after he attended the San Francisco Art Institute and fell in with the artists who would come to be known as the Bay Area Mission School. Smith and and fellow artist Laurie Lazer opened the Luggage Store Gallery in the Tenderloin in 1987 and have shown, in collaboration with SFAI, that city's artists since that time. But SFAI closed in March due to financial troubles exacerbated by COVID-19. Smith describes his move to New Mexico as "a link, not a break" with San Francisco and a chance to share Bay Area artists' work in a new locale.
Take the heat
Today's forecast: Sunny, with a high near 80 degrees, plus breezy, with a west wind 10 to 15 mph increasing to 20 to 25 mph in the morning at which point it will not be breezy, but windy. Also, those winds could gust as high as 35 mph. Temps move higher, into the mid 80s, tomorrow, but still looking at a chance for rain starting Friday into the weekend.
Thanks for reading! The Word was unsurprised to find New Mexico mentioned in this recent New York Times article about the recent boom in the underground bunker market.