COVID-19 by the numbers
New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 301 additional positive cases for COVID-19, bringing the statewide total thus far to 19,791; the health department has designated 7,657 of those cases as recovered.
The new figures came as the state publishes its weekly modeling report showing a steep increase in daily case counts in the Northwest region. The report also says hospitalizations have increased since the beginning of July, while ventilator use remains steady and currently is at 23%. Weekly hospitalizations are increasing across all regions, except for the Northwest.
As for yesterday, Bernalillo County led with new cases: 80 of them, followed by Lea County with 25 and Doña Ana County with 22. Santa Fe County had 14 new cases, bringing the total here to 524, of which 208 have been designated as recovered. The state also reported seven more deaths; there have now been 626 fatalities. As of yesterday, 160 people are hospitalized with COVID-19.
De Baca County remains free from COVID-19
Only one New Mexico county has escaped having any COVID-19 cases: De Baca County, one of just 38 counties in the entire US that remains COVID-free. The secret, according to its Chamber of Commerce head: a small population and lack of attractions for visitors. "We're not really on the road to anywhere," Gerald Cline, executive director of the De Baca County/Fort Sumner Chamber of Commerce and a Fort Sumner village councilor, tells the Santa Fe New Mexican "I wouldn't think a whole lot of people are spending a night…There's not a whole lot to grab you to spend six hours here," he says. The county's most likely traffic comes from Lubbock, Texas. Santa Fe/Albuquerque drivers may come through heading to Clovis, Portales or Lubbock, but they probably aren't stopping; Billy the Kid's grave in Fort Sumner is just a few miles off the highway and possibly attracts 25 or 30 people a day. The small population (the census says 1,781 but Cline thinks it's fewer) makes social distancing easy. And the real kicker: "There wasn't any stigma against masks or for it."
NM-made Breaking Bad spinoffs receive Emmy nominations
Better Call Saul and El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, both filmed in New Mexico and part of the Breaking Bad universe, received 12 Emmy nominations yesterday. El Camino, which filmed here in late 2018, was nominated for four Emmys. Netflix released the movie in October 2019; it represents part of Netflix's 160 nominations yesterday, the most of any company. HBO came in second with 107 nominations. Netflix bought Albuquerque Studios in 2018, which it has made a production hub. "Their success is New Mexico's success," Alicia J. Keyes, Economic Development Department cabinet secretary tells the Albuquerque Journal, "and that's especially true with Better Call Saul and El Camino, productions that came to the state for our competitive film incentives, but stayed or returned to New Mexico for our unique locations and talented crews." Better Call Saul from AMC received eight nominations, including one for outstanding drama series.
Municipal court closed for COVID-19
The City of Santa Fe closed its court yesterday, and it will remain closed for 14 days following a court employee testing positive for COVID-19. According to a city news release, the facility on Camino Entrada will be deep cleaned and the courthouse will reopen Aug. 11. Until then, hearings will be conducted telephonically. People with upcoming arraignments should call: 505-955-5070 and leave a message to set up a hearing by phone. Folks with scheduled traffic trials during this time will receive a new date via email or mail. For those with upcoming pre-trials conferences, information about how to proceed is available on the court's website.
On the most recent episode of Women's Focus on KUNM, host Carol Boss speaks with New Mexico epidemiologist Dr. Meghan Brett about COVID-19; Heather Lende, author of Of Bears and Ballots: An Alaskan Adventure in Small-Town Politics, discusses her decision to run for local office in Haines, Alaska; and Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety Executive Director Joni Arends, along with Laura Watchempino from the Multicultural Alliance and the Laguna-Acoma Coalition for a Safe Environment, talk about the latest developments at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.
Mother Tongue columnist Lauren Whitehurst ponders pandemic parenting in advance of the Santa Fe Public Schools Board of Education special meeting tomorrow to discuss "facilitating integrated pods" and "using outdoor space." Whitehurst made the decision to send her almost 10-year-old daughter to private school when SFPS decided to start the semester online. That decision comes during heightened national and local dialogue about the ways in which the pandemic may exacerbate existing inequity in public schools. "Do I make a civically responsible choice knowing that I'm actively acting against the best interest of my child's emotional, psychological and academic future?" Whitehurst asks herself, "Or do I make a choice that gives my child the best chance for lifelong curiosity and engagement, at the expense of participating in a more diverse public school community?" One sure conclusion: There are no easy answers.
Know any heroes?
Bet you do. If you've been in awe of someone who has stepped up during these difficult and fragile times, perhaps you should nominate that individual for New Mexico Magazine's True Heroes award. The publication is looking for folks who have "distinguished themselves" during the past 12 months to serve their communities in the healthcare, education, volunteerism, philanthropy, hospitality, arts and culture sectors. The 10 heroes chosen will be honored in a virtual awards ceremony in early November and featured in the magazine's December edition. Nominations close August 7, 2020. Here's the nomination form.
Sun, heat, wind
Today will be sunny with a high near 90 degrees; northwest wind 5 to 15 mph. Tomorrow will be about the same. With any luck, monsoon-like weather will return on Friday.
Thanks for reading! The Word lacks both the wealth and adventurous spirit to travel to space (although leaving the planet sounds increasingly tempting); still, the VSS Unity's interiors revealed yesterday by Virgin Galactic look pretty cushy.