COVID-19 by the numbers
New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 264 new positive test results for COVID-19, bringing the state total thus far to 15,291. The health department has designated 6,363 of those cases as recovered.
Doña Ana County led with new cases: 82 of them, followed by Bernalillo County with 59. McKinley and San Juan counties had 24 and 21 new cases, respectively. Santa Fe County had three new cases, bringing the total here so far to 341, of which 150 have been designated as recovered.
The state also announced three additional deaths from Chaves, McKinley and San Juan counties. There have now been 548 fatalities. As of today, 172 people are hospitalized.
The newest figures arrived as a modified public health order took effect, re-closing indoor dining at restaurants, limiting state parks to New Mexico residents and requiring masks be worn during exercise. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham spoke online with the Washington Post yesterday about the state's mask mandate, noting that "people are treating this pandemic as a political situation…It is not a political situation. It does not care if you're Republican, Democrat, young or old, whether you're independent or decline to state. It does not care at all about its hosts. It will attack you indiscriminately."
NM restaurants virtually protest
Restaurants across the state joined in a virtual protest yesterday in opposition to the new modified public health order that once again shuts down indoor dining. Using the hashtag #letuserve, restaurants posted photos of employees holding signs indicating how many workers they have. The New Mexico Restaurant Association organized the protest, has vocally criticized Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for not consulting with restaurants before rolling back indoor dining and had planned to file a legal challenge to the new order. While many of the restaurants were from elsewhere in the state, Santa Fe's Kakawa Chocolate House near downtown and The Flying Tortilla on the Southside participated. Weck's Santa Fe simply defied the order all together. NMRA's approach has caused some division among its ranks, and the protesting restaurants also drew their share of online critics yesterday.
Santa Fe Public Schools releases some survey results
The Santa Fe Public Schools yesterday released preliminary results of its survey of staff, parents and students regarding re-entry options for the fall semester. In a joint statement, Superintendent Veronica García and NEA Santa Fe President Grace Mayer said "the participation rate exceeded our expectations" with 74% of faculty and staff responding; 46% of parents and families; and 28% of students. Participants were asked to choose between three models as outlined by the state Education Department: virtual, in-person or a hybrid of both, as well as rate issues of concern. Parents were pretty much split on the options: Staff and faculty preferred remote learning and students opted for in-person classes. The full survey results will be presented to the school board July 16 at a special meeting and made available to the public.
SFPS employees test positive for COVID-19
Meanwhile, Santa Fe Public Schools also announced yesterday that two employees in the Facilities and Maintenance Department had tested positive for COVID-19. In a statement, Superintendent Veronica García said since receiving the information, the district has been communicating with the health department and is "following all guidelines regarding notification of employees who may have been in contact with those individuals, ensuring appropriate quarantining before these employees may return to work, and additional sanitization in the areas that these employees were working has been completed."
Santa Fe mayor announces police task force
Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber announced yesterday a new policing task force will spend the next three months examining the role of police in keeping the community safe. He also announced a proposed ordinance to prohibit city police from entering residents' homes using "no-knock" warrants, such as the one used by officers in Louisville, Kentucky, who subsequently shot and killed Breonna Taylor. "We want our police department to continue to be there to serve and protect us, and we also know that policing is fundamentally about trust," the mayor said during a weekly news briefing. "We want to do everything that we can to step into this moment nationally, this moment of revisiting policing, revisiting social and racial justice and public health." You can read SFPD's use of force policies here.
New Mexico In Focus host Gene Grant celebrates the third anniversary of the show's monthly series "Our Land" with environmental journalist Laura Paskus, who talks about the state's outlook and attitudes toward the environment. Paskus also presents a new "Our Land" segment that looks at the apparent death of the Gila River diversion plans and the millions of dollars spent searching for a water project that might never have been feasible.
Celebrated hoop dancer dies
One of the globe's most accomplished and well known Native hoop dancers, Nakotah LaRance, has died, according to an announcement from family friends with the Lightning Boy Foundation, a nonprofit with which LaRance worked to teach dance classes for tribal youth in Northern New Mexico. He died Sunday, according to Felicia Rivera, founder and director of the foundation. No one gave an indication about the cause of the sudden death, which reportedly occurred while LaRance was climbing on an old bridge in Rio Arriba County. LaRance, who would have turned 31 in August, was the master dancer for the Lightning Boy Hoop Dance group, an extension of the foundation, started by Rivera and her husband, George Rivera, in the name of their son Valentino. Valentino also danced before dying in 2016 from complications after a car accident at 8 years old.
Film office presents John Pinto awards
Yesterday, the New Mexico Film Office announced the recipients of funding from the new Sen. John Pinto Memorial Fund for Native filmmakers. It's a long list, so we'll just shout-out a few: Dream Touch Believe, submitted by Jenna Winters (Santa Clara Pueblo) which tells the story of Santa Clara Pueblo sculptor Michael Naranjo; Feeding Po'Pay from Geoffrey Kie (Pueblo of Laguna) about the journey to learn of Pueblo lifeways through an Indigenous Food Revolution; and Heroes of the West, submitted by Lydell Mitchell (Diné), which tells the story of two Navajo kids in 1987 Albuquerque. "All of these filmmakers expressed an enduring need to be the bearers of their own stories, and no longer accept the inconsistency of having stories told about their culture from an outsider's viewpoint," Economic Development Department Cabinet Secretary Alicia J. Keyes said in a statement. "That's the legacy of Sen. John Pinto and why we are honored to highlight this work." Check out the full list of recipients and projects here.
Take a number
When the city's Genoveva Chavez Community Center reopens on Monday (July 20), it will be by reservation only, with one-hour limits for visitors and complete sanitization in between sessions. The city is only opening the natatorium, the weight room, the track (on a limited basis,) the 'nook,' (we believe this is the cardio-machine area), the functional training room, the mezzanine and the basketball gym. Reservations will be accepted by phone only (505 955-4065 or 505 955-4066) at least 24 hours in advance to reserve a space. No walk-ins. Visitors must wear masks at all times and will have their temperatures taken upon entry. "We are so excited to welcome patrons back to your Genoveva Chavez Community Center," Parks and Recreation Director John Muñoz said in a statement. "And while the experience will feel different, we are committed to assuring that everyone is coming into a safe and sanitized space. By following our guidelines we believe we can all stay safe and healthy."
The sky darkened, the wind picked up force and the rain fell from the sky forcefully, angrily, hitting the ground as if flung from the heavens by petulant gods. No, this isn't the opening of a cheesy romance novel—it's a recap of yesterday's storm! Wasn't it grand? More on the way, perhaps: Today's forecast also calling for isolated showers and thunderstorms after 3 pm. Only a 20% chance of precipitation, but that's all we had yesterday too. Otherwise, it will be mostly sunny, with a high near 95 degrees and west wind 5 to 10 mph increasing to 10 to 15 mph in the afternoon. More chances for rain/storms this evening as well (and all week long).