COVID-19 by the numbers
New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 300 new positive test results for COVID-19—now the third highest day of new cases—bringing the statewide total thus far to 16,138, of which 6,578 have been designated as recovered by the health department.
Bernalillo County continues to report the highest number of new cases statewide: 103 today. Doña Ana and Lea counties, which have both had growing caseloads, had 39 and 23, respectively. After a record-high number of cases the day prior (29), Santa Fe County yesterday had nine new cases. That brings the total here so far to 389, out of which the health department has designated 163 as recovered. Close to 27,000 tests (26,998 to be exact) have been administered in Santa Fe County all together.
The state also announced five new deaths from Bernalillo, Cibola, McKinley and San Juan counties. There have been 562 fatalities.
SFPS board approves remote school plan
The Santa Fe Public Schools Board of Education last night unanimously approved a plan to start the fall semester entirely online in response to COVID-19. Now the state Public Education Department will need to sign off after the district submits its re-entry proposals—which include tactics for transportation, sanitation, child care and disability services and more—next week. The Santa Fe Public School District and the local teachers union came to an agreement about the remote learning component earlier this week, agreeing the semester will begin Aug. 20 and remain remote for nine weeks.
Board Vice President Lorraine Price said she'd support extending remote learning even longer, noting her own experience during the polio epidemic. "As a survivor of an epidemic, I spent three years in my home when I did not go to school. And I survived it….We endure. And we will survive this and come out of this better people," she said. Some parents submitted comments that online learning might exacerbate pre-existing inequities throughout the district. "I am also very, very concerned about gaps and equity issues in a distance situation," Board President Kate Noble said. "It's scary to me, I don't know that anybody can say a time when we've done anything as dramatic as this." A Legislative Education Study Committee report released yesterday indicates that the varied responses by school districts during the shutdowns last spring probably widened academic gaps between students.
NM unemployment rising
Santa Fe County had a 47% increase in unemployment claims for the week ending July 11—448 new claims—the largest number since the end of May. Many businesses' Paycheck Protection Program loans recently ran out, leading to new layoffs and new claims. Statewide, the unemployment rate also has been increasing: According to the US Labor Department, it went from .06% to 12% the week ending July 4, the first increase since May 23. The state had 6,742 new claims for the week ending July 11, compared with 5,666 for the week ending July 4. Last week, the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions announced that due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases, the state would continue to waive work search requirements for people receiving unemployment, which had been scheduled to start up again July 18.
Teen suspect caught in alleged murder
Yesterday afternoon, Santa Fe police apprehended Mario Guizar-Anchondo, 17, for his alleged involvement in a deadly altercation on Santa Fe's Southside on Wednesday night. Ivan Perez, also 17 and a rising senior at Capital High School, was found dead in the parking lot of The Bluffs apartment complex. An arrest warrant had been issued for Guizar-Anchondo, who is charged with an open count of murder as well as attempted murder and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. Police say he was arrested with help from the Santa Fe County sheriff's department. A second victim, who has not been identified, was transported to Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center where he underwent surgery and is currently listed in stable condition, police say. Santa Fe Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Veronica C. García issued a statement yesterday saying: "This tragedy leaves our district shaken. Our hearts are with Ivan's loved ones, and with our students and staff in the wake of this act of violence in our community."
"The magnitude of interlocking 'wicked problems' we humans face today is daunting…and made all the worse by the widening schisms in our public discourse…Can organized nonviolent interventions restore civility and save our public spaces? Or does the ensuing arms race only bring our fora closer to collapse?" This heady topic and complex questions come courtesy the latest episode of Santa Fe Institute's Complexity podcast focused on "Fighting Hate Speech with AI and Social Sciences." Hosted by Michael Garfield, this episode includes three authors of new research on hate speech and counter speech: SFI Applied Complexity Fellow Joshua Garland, Professor Mirta Galesic, and External Professor Keyan Ghazi-Zahedi, who, along with co-authors Laurent Hébert Dufresne and Jean-Gabriel Young—have discovered patterns in the Twitter data they say just might help save the web.
Round and round
Certified Hoop Love Coach Amber Bradshaw, owner of Rabbit Wheel Studio, offers a free Friday night flow event tonight for anyone looking to get their hoop on in a socially distanced way with sanitized hoops provided, masks required. "[With] hoops, and flow arts in general, you give yourself a space around your body that you're using with your 'dance partner,' so to speak, and that space, nobody else is gonna come into. So as long as your partner is an inanimate object, everybody stays pretty safe," Bradshaw tells SFR. Beginners are welcome to the 7 to 9 pm event at Fort Marcy park. It's one of several real-world and digital SFR picks to consider as we head into the weekend.
The sound of perseverance
Even before Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced stay-at-home orders last spring, the Santa Fe Youth Symphony was working on contingency plans for its 300 students. "Because we'd already had the conversations, I felt ready," Executive Director Andrea Cassutt tells SFR. "It was spring break, and I think that gave us a spaciousness—we were already on the same page, the staff really showed up very quickly; we got ready to continue all our rehearsals online, and when the kids came back, we were ready to go. We felt it was important to keep the structure we had." That pivot and the hard work that followed through online lessons and rehearsals will be on display this weekend with SFYS' Gathering Voices virtual concert series, which you can register for at a minimum $1 fee or use the opportunity to support the organization with a larger amount if you're able.
Mostly sunny, chance of storms, repeat
Isolated showers and thunderstorms after noon and again this evening before midnight with just a 20% chance of precipitation in both cases. Otherwise, it will mostly be sunny with a high near 89 degrees. Saturday will be a little warmer (high temp around 90 degrees) with a similar chance for rain and storms. Sunday, look for a 50% for showers and thunderstorms after noon during a day that will otherwise be mostly sunny with a high near 87 degrees.