COVID-19 by the numbers
New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 316 new positive test cases for COVID-19, bringing the statewide total so far to 17,828, with 6,974 designated as recovered by the health department.
Bernalillo County continued to lead with high case numbers: 89, followed by Doña Ana County with 53 new cases and McKinley County with 35. Santa Fe County had 19 new cases, bringing the total here to 456, of which 181 have been designated as recovered.
The state also announced three more deaths from Bernalillo and McKinley counties; there have now been 591 fatalities. As of yesterday, 178 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, 24 more than the day prior.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and state officials will provide an update on COVID-19 today at 3 pm, which will be streamed live on the governor's Facebook page.
Trump sending federal police to Albuquerque
President Donald Trump confirmed yesterday afternoon he will be sending federal law enforcement to Albuquerque—Trump said 35 agents; a Department of Justice news release says 25—as part of Operation Legend, so-named for Kansas City homicide victim 4-year-old LeGend Taliferro. Families who have lost loved ones to violent crime accompanied Trump, Attorney General William Barr and acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf at yesterday's White House announcement, including the family of 55-year-old Jacqueline Vigil, who was killed in Albuquerque last year during an attempted carjacking. "Under Operation Legend, we will also soon send federal law enforcement to other cities that need help," Trump said. "Other cities need help. They need it badly. They should call. They should want it. They're too proud or they're too political to do that."
US Attorney for New Mexico John Anderson said the operation is intended to reduce gun violence in Albuquerque and dismissed comparisons with deployment of federal police in Portland, Oregon where, among other actions, they have been taking protesters off the street into unmarked vehicles. "Any effort to compare Operation Legend to what's going on in Portland is baseless and misguided," he told the Albuquerque Journal. "There is no connection between those two. The federal law enforcement resources that are being deployed are directed at reducing gun violence; they are not directed at arresting or controlling protesters; they are not being directed at restricting anyone's right to protest…They are not being directed at immigration enforcement, and they are not being directed at protecting statues. It's limited to the exclusive goal of eliminating the scourge of gun violence."
Gov and AG say they will monitor federal police for violations
Even before Donald Trump confirmed Operation Legend will be coming to Albuquerque, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Attorney General Hector Balderas had announced they will actively monitoring for any civil rights violations related to such operations. In a news release, both officials encouraged any New Mexican "impacted by such operations in the coming weeks to contact their offices and provide information." The governor added in a statement that if the Trump administration wants to help local enforcement with protecting New Mexicans' safety, "we would welcome the conversation. If the Trump administration wishes to antagonize New Mexicans and Americans with authoritarian, unnecessary and unaccountable military-style 'crackdowns,' they have no business whatsoever in New Mexico."
Testing 1, 2, 3
New Mexico has more than 100 COVID-19 testing sites run by different entities—the health department, hospitals, emergency rooms, pharmacies and others—and ranks fourth in the US for the average number of tests performed per capita. But in speaking with people who sought testing, SFR learned the state's robust and diverse testing landscape can create uneven and sometimes rocky experiences for folks seeking tests and then waiting on their results. Health officials acknowledge the bumpy testing landscape, as well as the possibility that its terrain might be leaving symptomatic and high-risk individuals untested. At a July 17 news conference, Human Services Secretary David Scrase said the state is working with private providers to create a less chaotic system, perhaps by dividing the duties of testing symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals between private and state sites. University of New Mexico Hospital, Presbyterian and Lovelace health system jointly announced yesterday, however, a shortage of supplies and temporary break in testing asymptomatic people.
ICYMI, on July 19, MacArthur Fellows Jason De León and Steven Feld discussed how scholars and artists can bring research findings to the public using media such as film, installations and publications for the "Beyond Borders: MacArthur Fellows in Conversation" lecture. De León was a School for Advanced Research resident fellow in 2013/2014, author of The Land of Open Graves: Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail and created the traveling exhibit Hostile Terrain 94. An SAR senior fellow, Feld is an ethnomusicologist and Columbia University professor of anthropology. He began working in Papua New Guinea's Bosavi region in 1976 and has dedicated much of his career to documenting the sounds and cultural dynamics of the area. The program, co-sponsored by SAR, SITE Santa Fe and CCA.
US House passes Great American Outdoors Act
The US House passed the Great American Outdoors Act yesterday, a bill that fully and permanently funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund at $900 million per year annually and puts $9.5 billion toward the maintenance backlog in the country's national parks and federal land agencies over the next five years. "With House passage of this historic legislation, we are now one step away from finally enacting my father [former Interior Secretary] Stewart Udall's original vision: a conservation program that is fully funded and guaranteed each year," US Sen. Tom Udall, D-NM said in a statement regarding the bill, for which he has been a long-time supporter and co-sponsor, along with US Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-NM. The rest of New Mexico's delegation similarly heralded the bill's passage, with US Rep. Ben Ray Luján saying, "As New Mexicans, we take pride in our public lands and natural resources, and I'm glad that Congress has taken action to protect our lands for generations to come." The US Senate has already passed the bill and President Trump is expected to sign it.
Make that a double
Being a bartender is stressful during the best of times, which—as you may have noticed—these are not. For some bartenders, months of unemployment rage on. For others, work has been on and off following the re-closure of indoor dining. And for those who are still working, the upsides include paychecks and remaining connected to the community. Downsides? Policing customers for masks and worrying about catching COVID-19 to start. SFR Culture Editor Alex DeVore continues his "pandemic profiles" this week with interviews with Santa Fe bartenders Laurel Hunziker (Radish & Rye), Jonah Prokopiak (Matador) and Jules Walker (Thunderbird Bar & Grill) who discuss their experiences and offer thoughts on what could help bars right now (short of opening).
Waiting on the rain
Today's weather forecast alleges showers and thunderstorms are likely, mainly after 3 pm with a 70% of precipitation. Otherwise it will be partly sunny, with a high near 80 degrees and northeast wind 5 to 10 mph becoming southwest in the afternoon. Theoretically, there will be more of the same this evening, with the chances for heavy rain rising to 80%.
Thanks for reading! It's probably not a good sign that The Word had trouble deciding whether or not this LA Police meeting transcript published in Harper's magazine was satire.