New Mexico reported 343 new positive test results for COVID-19 yesterday, the highest number of new cases on a single day to date. Those new cases bring the statewide total thus far to 18,163; the health department has designated 7,056 of those cases as recovered.

Bernalillo County had 126 new cases yesterday, by far the most in the state. Lea County had 33 new cases; Doña Ana County had 31. Santa Fe County had six new cases.

The state also announced five new deaths; there have been 596 fatalities. As of yesterday, 167 people were hospitalized, 34 on ventilators.

In a news briefing yesterday, Human Services David Scrase provided an overview of both cases and gating criteria for COVID-19 in the state, noting the state has had a 123% increase over the last five weeks. Bernalillo, Doña Ana and Lea counties have had notable increases in cases during that time period. "The main thing driving the growth and this uptick in cases is more people are spending more time outside their homes with…other people for longer periods of time interacting," Scrase said. "That is how COVID spreads: with human-to-human interaction."

You can read all of SFR's COVID-19 coverage here. If you've had experiences with testing or the virus, we would like to hear from you.

Listen up

"Songs from the Santa Fe Opera" will air its fourth program at 7 pm this Saturday night, July 25, celebrating  Dvořák's Rusalka. The event is hosted by soprano Amanda Echalaz and features SFO's Rusalka, Ailyn Pérez, singing the beautiful "Song to the Moon." James Creswell will sing Vodník's aria and the event will feature a discussion with Pérez, Music Director Harry Bicket and Director Sir David Pountney. Opening night sponsor Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe has even provided a recipe for recipe for the Expedition Vodka Terratini if you need inspiration for your tailgate cocktail. Stream the event on the Opera's Facebook page, YouTube channel and website and participate (if you like) on social media using the hashtag #showusyourtailgate.

College during COVID-19

St. John's College graduate student Kelsey Hennegen celebrated completing her master's degree last spring alone with a bottle of sparkling wine and a Zoom graduation that was part livestream, part pre-recorded program, an experience she describes as "anti-climactic." Thousands of other students, faculty and administrators across Santa Fe faced similar letdowns amid campus shutdowns, online classroom difficulties, declining enrollment and reduced income as ripple effects from COVID-19 hit the city's three higher-education institutions. This week, SFR takes a look at what the future holds for St. John's, Santa Fe Community College and the Institute of American Indian Arts as administrators plan for the fall semester amid the pandemic's uncertainty.

A river ran through it

If you've walked the Santa Fe River Trail lately, you'll have noticed the lack of…well, a river. It's another dry year, not just for the Santa Fe River, but for the entire Rio Grande. This week, environmental reporter Laura Paskus writes of the drying Rio Grande, which she has reported upon for close to 20 years, in a personal reported essay for SFR that examines the river's history, ecological importance and vulnerability to climate change. "Every news story I've reported on the Rio Grande—for this paper, for radio, for television, for magazines and online outlets—has been a love story," Paskus writes. "I've laid out the facts, asked you to see our river. And I've secretly implored each and every one of you to love our river."

Rain check

Today's weather forecast again calls for likely showers and thunderstorms—a 60% chance—primarily after 3 pm. Otherwise, it will be partly sunny with a high near 80 degrees and east wind 5 to 10 mph becoming south in the morning. Tonight: same, except the chance of rain is 70%. The weekend: same, with chances for rain, thunder, the works all weekend long. Here's hoping!

Thanks for reading! The Word is a few days late to learning about the ABQ BioPark's "Art Gone Wild" program featuring paintings made by its resident elephants, snow leopards, hippos…maggots. You can see which animals' original artwork is left to purchase—the program helps fund the zoo and keeps the animals busy (yes, the paint is non-toxic).