COVID-19 by the numbers
Over the weekend, New Mexico health officials reported 590 new positive test cases for COVID-19: 324 on Saturday and 266 on Sunday. The new cases bring the statewide total to 19,042 so far, with 7,349 designated as recovered by the health department.
Bernalillo County added 184 cases over the weekend, followed by Doña Ana County with 90 and Lea County with 46 more cases. Santa Fe County had 24 new cases over the weekend: nine on Saturday and 15 on Sunday; there have been 497 cases here so far, 203 of which have been designated as recovered by the health department.
The state also announced 13 new deaths—six on Saturday and seven on Sunday—from Bernalillo, McKinley, Rio Arriba, Sandoval, San Juan and Valencia counties There have been 614 fatalities.
As of yesterday, 144 people were hospitalized with COVID-19.
In an op-ed SFR published over the weekend, New Mexico Human Services Secretary David Scrase and Workforce Solutions Secretary Bill McCamley discuss the facts behind the state's approach to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gov talks feds, COVID-19 and Biden on Sunday TV
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham spoke yesterday with ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" Sunday about the federal government's plan to send agents to Albuquerque. The governor said she would be willing to work with the federal officers "if we are cooperatively working to address violent crime and gun violence—absolutely." But "if we're going to try to incentivize unrest, then that's something all together different." She also said the state of New Mexico had previously asked for federal agents to help with police and crime investigations earlier in the administration and the funding wasn't provided. "So the timing of their efforts remains to be a bit suspect," Lujan Grisham said. The governor also discussed recent Trump campaign ads attacking Joe Biden, New Mexico's rising COVID-19 cases and the lack of a federal pandemic strategy.
Former public defender sues agency over gender pay inequity
A former head of the Santa Fe Public Defender's Office, Morgan Wood, who was the district defender for five years through 2019, has filed a lawsuit against the Law Offices of the Public Defender saying she was retaliated against for raising and supporting issues of gender pay equity. The lawsuit claims the agency violated the Fair Pay for Women Act, New Mexico Human Rights Act and Whistleblower Protection Act. A spokesman for the public defender says the agency has been prioritizing pay equity but had not yet seen the lawsuit. The lawsuit references a 2018 gender equity study that indicates known pay inequity at the agency; five female employees sued the office that year and also referenced that study.
NM Restaurant Association files second suit
Lawyers for the New Mexico Restaurant Association filed another lawsuit against Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's administration on Friday, saying the health department has not yet supplied them with records requested under the state's Inspection of Public Records Act. This latest action comes on top of the lawsuit the association filed last week requesting a restraining order against the governor's July 13 public health order re-closing restaurants for in-person dining. The request was initially granted but then the state Supreme Court stayed the order. The restaurant association now reportedly seeks the data bolstering the decision to close indoor dining. Both sides must file responses to the first suit this week; the order itself is effective through July 30.
On KNME's most recent episode of New Mexico in Focus, correspondent Megan Kamerick talks with retired teacher, artist and COVID-19 survivor Gwen T. Samuels about contracting the virus and how that experience pushed her to start making masks for those in need. You can also catch an extra clip of the interview in which Samuels discusses the difficulty of being isolated from her family while she was hospitalized.
New city arts department budget cut in half
Come Wednesday, the Santa Fe City Council will consider a recommended budget for the 2021 fiscal year that proposes reorganizing departments and ultimately cuts $83 million from last year's all-funds budget. The city's newly named Arts and Culture Department is staring down cuts of more than half its operating revenue due to a steep drop in the city's lodgers tax that pays for it. "Originally, before COVID hit, we were seeing a lot of increases to our programming," Director Pauline Kanako Kamiyama tells SFR. "The revenues were coming in high, then all of a sudden the pandemic hit and all departments across the board were asked, as an exercise, to cut our budgets." That exercise turned into reality: a 53% but based on projections, or roughly $1 million. On the hypothetical bright side, lodgers taxes haven't been collected yet, so the department stands a (albeit small) chance at being pleasantly surprised with more revenue than expected. Meanwhile, the department is meeting, talking and collaborating with arts organizations around town. "Culture is resilient," Kamiyama says. "We have a lot of stories to hear, so it's a time for listening and a time for activation."
New Mexico’s first Benefit Corporation
During the last legislative session, Santa Fe Innovates founder Jon Mertz testified in favor of legislation that expanded the state's Business Corporation Act to allow businesses and corporations to voluntarily identify as benefit corporations: ones that take the public good into account along with making a profit. The bill passed—after many attempts in previous years. And now Santa Fe Innovates has become the first business to incorporate as a benefit corporation in the state. "We started as a C-Corp, but we have a larger purpose than just to be profitable," Mertz said in a news statement. The company will now file an annual report indicating how it is fulfilling its mission. Glenn Schiffbauer, executive director of the Santa Fe Green Chamber of Commerce, who also testified in favor of the bill, said he hopes to see "more businesses—startups, small businesses, or larger corporations—choose to mix profit with purpose and sustainability with financial growth."
Ready for more rain? Get ready. Today's weather forecast predicts showers and thunderstorms likely, mainly after noon, with a 70% chance of precipitation—some which may be heavy rain. Otherwise, it will be mostly cloudy with a high near 80 degrees and northeast wind 5 to 10 mph becoming south in the afternoon. More of the same this evening, primarily before 3 am. Tomorrow may continue the pattern, but after that, the week is supposed to warm up and dry out.
Thanks for reading! The Word has been making her way through this ProPublica/New York Times special project on global climate migration: "Where Will Everyone Go?"