COVID-19 by the numbers
New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 467 new positive test results for COVID-19, the highest single day since the pandemic began. The previous highest count—on July 23—was 343 new cases in one day.
There have now been 19,502 total cases so far; the health department has designated 7,459 of them as recovered.
Yesterday's surge was driven by 170 new cases among individuals held by federal agencies at the Cibola County Correctional Center, which houses people for both Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the US Marshals Service. At the county level, Doña Ana County had 76 cases, followed by Bernalillo County with 62 and Lea County with 25. Santa Fe County had 12 new cases reported yesterday, bringing the total here to 510, of which the health department has designated 204 as recovered.
The state also announced five new deaths from Bernalillo, Doña Ana, Lea and McKinley countie. There have now been 619 fatalities. As of yesterday, 159 people are hospitalized with COVID-19.
The unpopular kind of weed
For all the myriad problems and heartaches the pandemic has wrought, here's another: overgrown weeds. The City of Santa Fe's previous 10-point plan to address overgrown weeds on traffic medians has been stymied by inadequate staffing, Parks and Recreation Director John Muñoz told the Santa Fe New Mexican, noting that the city had previously had 19 people cleaning the medians, but is now down to six. Constituent and Council Services Director Kristine Mihelcic says the city's ban on using pesticides also limits its options for weed control plus, again, lack of personnel. "COVID-19 has disrupted our operations over the past few months, and our teams have been working hard to maintain essential services despite ongoing furloughs, layoffs and frozen positions," she says.
Gov announces $50 million business grant program
Yesterday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced applications have gone out to tribal and local governments for $178 million of CARES Act funding (the federal COVID-19 stimulus bill). Of those funds, $28 million is available for tribal government grants and $150 million is available for city and county grants to cover incurred expenses from the pandemic between March 1 and the end of this year. The local government funding specifically designates $50 million to create a grant program for small businesses impacted by the pandemic. The money can be used by cities and counties to create more child care options; purchase Personal Protective Equipment for government businesses; housing and rental assistance; and funding for police, emergency services and other public safety expenses.
NM reports first case of bubonic plague for 2020
Lest we forget: A worldwide pandemic for one infectious disease doesn't mean the others have gone away. Indeed, yesterday the health department reported the first human case of bubonic plague in New Mexico diagnosed this year: a Santa Fe County man in his 60s. While he recovers at the hospital, an environmental investigation will take place at the person's home to look for ongoing risk to immediate family members, neighbors and others. Per a news release: "Plague is a bacterial disease of wildlife and is generally transmitted to humans and pets through the bites of infected fleas. Pet animals also can be exposed after eating an infected animal." One can hopefully circumvent contracting plague by avoiding sick or dead rodents and rabbits, along with their nests and burrows. For more information and tips on how to steer clear of plague, here's all the info you need.
Episode 2 of KUNM's No More Normal podcast, "Disappearing Acts," explores what has disappeared from our lives—good or bad—during the pandemic. US Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-NM, discusses the erosion of our civil liberties. Tricklock Company's Executive Director Juli Hendren and collaborator Marya Errin Jones, Revolutions Marketing director, talk about Tricklock closing after 27 years. Environmental journalist Laura Paskus reads excerpts from her SFR-published love letter to the Rio Grande, "Memory of a River." Local comedian Sarah Kennedy tells a before-times-y story about a disappearing chicken. Center for Civic Policy Communications Director Isaac De Luna explains the racism behind the push to exclude undocumented immigrants from population counts. Psychologist Gerald Chavez shares his observations of our relationships with one another and why our patience might be disintegrating. And futurist Puruesh Chaudhary, founder and CEO of nonprofit Agahi in Islamabad, Pakistan, explores media distrust and the loss of a future. No More Normal is a collaboration between SFR, KUNM and PBS New Mexico.
US Rep. Ben Ray Lujan unveils ad filmed at Santa Fe Bite
US Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-Santa Fe, launches his second TV ad for his US Senate bid today, which features Santa Fe Bite owner John Eckre discussing his Paycheck Protection Loan. "Thanks to Ben Ray Luján, we're staying afloat," Eckre says, as staff make burgers and package them for take-out. According to a campaign news release, the ad, "Lifeline," is part of a multi-million dollar, bilingual ad campaign that will run through Election Day. Luján faces former TV meteorologist Republican Mark Ronchetti in the Nov. 3 election to replace outgoing US Sen. Tom Udall, D-NM. According to the Federal Election Commission's campaign finance filings, Ronchetti currently has $570,819 on hand in the race; Luján has approximately $3.3 million.
Meow Wolf’s post-pandemic plans
Forbes Magazine checks in this week with Meow Wolf Director of Social Impact Danika Padilla about the arts organization's mission as a B Corp, how it has responded to the pandemic and how it will adjust its interactive model for anti-interactive times. "In the past, our experiences have centered around exploration and play, providing a full sensory experience of sight, touch and sound for our visitors. COVID-19 has led us to examine the ways that our visitors interact with the artwork, with 'touch' no longer a focus of this experience," Padilla says. Never fear, though: When Meow Wolf reopens, increased digital experiences, new art and other added features will await.
Head in the clouds
Today's weather forecast calls for a 50% chance of showers and thunderstorms, mostly after noon. Otherwise, prepare for a partly sunny day with a high near 82 degrees and northeast wind 5 to 15 mph becoming southwest in the morning. The next two days, as of now, look sadly monsoon-free.
Thanks for reading! The Word recommends starting your day by listening to these remarks by the late Georgia Congressman John Lewis during his 2014 Emory Commencement Address, played yesterday as he lay in state at the US Capitol Rotunda.