COVID-19 by the numbers
New Mexico health officials announced 290 new positive tests for COVID-19 today—69 more than yesterday and the second highest day of cases here in the pandemic—bringing the statewide total thus far to 14,017. Bernalillo again led with new cases: 99 of them. Doña Ana County had 53; McKinley County had 23.
Santa Fe County had 10 new cases and has now had a total of 293 cases, 144 of which have been designated by the health department as recovered. Statewide, as of today, 154 people are hospitalized—21 more than yesterday—and the health department has designated 6,051 cases as recovered.
The state also reported eight new deaths from Bernalillo, Doña Ana, McKinley and San Juan counties. There have been 527 fatalities.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and state officials will host a news update on COVID-19 in the state today at 4 pm on the governor's Facebook page.
Gov signs police body cam bill
Yesterday, Gov. Lujan Grisham signed Senate Bill 8, which requires New Mexico police officers to wear body cameras and applies to city police and county sheriff's agencies as well as state police and the Department of Public Safety. Law enforcement agencies must maintain the body camera footage for at least 120 days. Police who interfere with the devices or otherwise defy the camera requirement could face penalties for withholding evidence. The bill also requires the Law Enforcement Academy Board to permanently revoke the certification of any police officer who is found guilty, pleads guilty or pleads no contest to a crime involving unlawful use or threatened use of force in the line of duty, or fails to intervene in a police action involving unlawful use of force.
Cop complaints rose last year
The 58 misconduct complaints filed against the Santa Fe Police last year represent a 32% increase over the year prior and a three-year high. In addition, SFPD's Office of Professional Standards launched nine internal investigations into officer conduct. The OPS exonerated police officers in 29 of the external complaints. The 26 allegations it sustained included violations of personnel code of conduct; issues with police vehicles and cameras; evidence management infractions; patrol operations; search and seizures; transport of prisoners; bomb threats; domestic violence; and traffic enforcement. The internal investigations involved violations of arrest procedures; personnel code of conduct; collecting and processing evidence in the field; and misconduct during on-scene investigations of domestic violence calls. Of the 17 total internal allegations, OPS found merit among six of them.
Luján calls for more tribal support
US Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-NM, called for remedies to tribal inequities yesterday during a House Energy and Commerce Committee meeting, noting the negative impact tribes have faced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Luján cited the need for adequately funding the Indian Health Service, investing in infrastructure, ensuring digital access and expanding compensation for individuals impacted by radiation exposure. "The conversations [I have had] with Tribal leaders and Pueblo leaders have made clear that the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated challenges and inequities that long existed before COVID-19," Luján said. During the hearing, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez also mentioned the need to support broadband connectivity for tribal libraries, schools and other key institutions by making them eligible for the Federal Communications Commission's E-Rate program.
Santa Fe Art Institute kicked off a new podcast this week. "Tilt" premiers with an hour-long conversation on how white people can join the fight for racial justice through self-education, a culture of empathy and community building with the arts. The podcast features SFAI Residency Director Toni Gentilli in conversation with Equal Justice Alumni Ann Lewis, Labor Alumni Lori Waselchuk and Truth and Reconciliation Alumni Sara Konrath. The participating artists for this podcast episode are donating their SFAI stipends, in the amount of $450, to the Anti-Racism Fund in St. Louis; the Amistad Law Project in Philadelphia; and the Kheprw Institute in Indianapolis.
Remembering Rudolfo Anaya
In an essay titled "Querencia, Mi patria chica," author Rudolfo Anaya writes "Querencia is love of home, love of place…Love for our querencia spreads out to the larger country. Our love is strong because it has its center at home, in our casita, en los solares, our neighbors, the land, the river, and the llano." These were some of Anaya's final words before his death on June 28, appearing as the foreword to the new anthology Querencia: Reflections on the New Mexico Homeland, published by University of New Mexico Press and edited by Vanessa Fonseca-Chávez, Levi Romero and Spencer R. Herrera. SFR books columnist Molly Boyle explores Anaya's literary heritage in her "Reading in the Arroyo" column this week, and speaks with Romero—New Mexico's poet laureate—about the enduring value of Anaya's work.
Speaking of books…
Yes, we use libraries for books. But libraries represent more than collections of books. Libraries "are essential resources in communities," Mary Grace Flaherty, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, says. "But it's hard when something is viewed as a book repository to compare that to the fire department in terms of funding," Flaherty says. "But they are vital…especially now, they're information banks and they're the only organization in communities that are open to absolutely everyone." It's unclear if Santa Fe's libraries will suffer more cutbacks as the city grapples with its budget, but as SFR reports this week, it's evident residents have been making use of its services—books, programs and internet access—throughout the pandemic.
Today's forecast calls for it to be sunny and hot with highs in the mid 90s and northwest winds 15 to 20 mph. If you're wondering where our monsoons are, you are not alone. The National Weather Service has prepared a plethora of charts depicting the 2020 monsoon season, but the bottom line is: Don't get your hopes up—we could be looking at a nonsoon season.