COVID-19 by the numbers

On Labor Day, New Mexico health officials reported 46 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of cases so far to 26,144. Bernalillo County had 13 new cases, followed by McKinley County with six and Doña Ana and Lea counties with five. Santa Fe County had two more cases.

The state also announced four more deaths from Bernalillo, McKinley and San Juan counties; there have now been 807 fatalities. As of yesterday, 65 people were hospitalized with COVID-19. Over the weekend, New Mexico logged 218 new cases and had nine more deaths, six on Saturday and three on Sunday from Doña Ana, Lea, McKinley and San Juan counties.

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.

Airlines add Santa Fe flights

Last week, both American and United airlines added flights in and out of the Santa Fe Municipal Airport, offerings Airport Director Mark Baca described as a "test" to gauge interest. The additions coincided with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham loosening COVID-19 quarantine rules for some travelers and increased capacity for hotels certified for COVID safety. American Airlines added an early morning flight to Dallas, while United plans to increase its flight to Denver to six days a week at the end of this month and to four times daily in October. More than $12 million in state and federally funded improvements are in the works for the airport, including: parking lot improvements, two taxiway projects and expansion of the terminal.

Native American voting dropped during pandemic

While voter participation in New Mexico for the June primary increased statewide by 8% compared with the primary four years ago, it dropped by 1% in Native American precincts, according to a recent report from Common Cause New Mexico. Those figures vary from area to area, dropping by as much as 29% for Zia Pueblo. COVID-19 was identified by 54% of those surveyed as the barrier to voting. Respondents also cited lack of information on voting deadlines and difficulties accessing absentee ballots. Use of absentee ballots climbed significantly from the 2016 general election, when 1% Native American voters voted absentee versus 56% last June. Numerous polling places on Native lands were closed on election day for the primary, but a new law, sponsored by state Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque, will prohibit closing polling places on tribal land without tribal consent, and require at least one remains open even during public-health related shutdowns.

Political polls

US Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-NM, leads the three-way race to replace Democrat Tom Udall in the US Senate, according to recent Albuquerque Journal polling. Among voters surveyed, 49% said they would vote for Luján, 40% said they would vote for Republican and former TV meteorologist Mark Ronchetti and 4% said they would vote for Libertarian candidate Bob Walsh. Brian Sanderoff, president of Research & Polling Inc, which conducted the poll, described Luján's lead as "comfortable" but noted Luján isn't "at the 50% mark that helps candidates sleep better at night." In the contested 2nd Congressional District race, Journal polling found the contest between Democrat Xochitl Torres Small and Republican Yvette Herrell "too close to call."

Listen up

For National Suicide Prevention Month, Episode 8 of No More Normal focuses on resources. Guests include: Science journalist Tara Haelle, author of "Your Surge Capacity Is Depleted. It's Why You Feel Awful"New Mexico Black Mental Health Coalition founder Dr. Stephanie McIverCrisis and Access Line Program Manager Wendy Linebrink-Allison and Clinical Specialist Kathleen Kuhl; University of New Mexico's Agora Crisis Center Associate Director Kyle Dougherty; the state's Treatment and Programs Bureau Acting Deputy Director Tiffany Wynn and many more.

Powering the Mars mission

The NASA's 2020 Perseverance Rover mission, currently en route to Mars, is making its way there with help from technology, some of which was developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory. For example: the radioisotope thermoelectric generator powering the mission acts as a nuclear battery for the craft. SFR recently spoke with Jackie Lopez-Barlow, manager of Los Alamos National Laboratory's RTG program, about the science behind RTGs and about how her own journey into the field after becoming inspired by the chemistry she witnessed in museums' conservation laboratories when she was young.

Color outside the lines

Do you remember the weird controversy last month over the adult coloring book Hot Cup of Joe: A Piping Hot Coloring Book with America's Sexiest Moderate, Joe Biden? No? Consider yourself lucky (backstory: the book exists, was intended as satire, but was not, as falsely promoted on Facebook, marketed to children). Anyway. At SFR we support artists, adults and coloring, which is why we present to you the first-ever SFR coloring book, featuring artists Janell Langford, Thais Mather, Terran Last Gun, Shelby Criswell, Israel Francisco Haros Lopez, Ian Kuali'i, Anastacio Wrobel, Erin Currier, Marie Sena, Sienna Luna, Anson Stevens-Bollen and Liz Brindley. Available in both print and digital form. Appropriate for children, incidentally.

Sweater weather

Today's forecast predicts a 60% chance of rain starting at noon, along with winds 10 to 2 mph increasing to 30 to 40 mph, and possibly gusting as high as 55 mph. So that sounds nice. Otherwise, it will be partly sunny with a high near 73 degrees until tonight when it starts raining again and the temperatures drop to a low of 35 degrees. Rain continues tomorrow, when the high is expected to hit 49 degrees. Yes, snow is possible. Precipitation may also help lessen the haze from New Mexico and Colorado's wildfires.

Thanks for reading! The Word holds deep fondness for Dorothy Parker (natch) but probably would have loved this wild New Yorker story about the "improbable journey" of Parker's ashes regardless.