COVID-19 by the numbers

New Mexico health officials reported 44 new COVID-19 cases yesterday, bringing the statewide total thus far to 26,181. Bernalillo County led the state with half of them—22 new cases. Chaves and Eddy counties each had four new cases. Santa Fe County had two.

As of yesterday, 68 people were hospitalized with COVID-19. No additional deaths were reported; there have been 807 fatalities so far.

As New Mexico's cases have been dropping, so have rapid responses—deployed by the state when an employee tests positive—to workplaces for further testing, cleaning and review of safety protocols. According to the state environment department's most recent rapid response report for the week ending Sept. 6, the state logged 163 rapid responses, versus 235 the week prior. Santa Fe County ranked number six for rapid responses, accounting for 6% or nine of the total rapid responses

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.

Forrest Fenn dies

Author, art collector and treasure hunt provocateur Forrest Fenn died from natural causes at the age of 90 on Labor Day at his home in Santa Fe. He launched his famous treasure hunt in 2010 in the face of a cancer diagnosis when he thought the disease would kill him for sure. Long before that, he flew combat flights as a pilot during wars in Korea and Vietnam. SFR spoke with Fenn in 2018 for a cover story, "The Legend of Fenn's Gold," about his passion for collecting and the search for his treasure, which concluded in June when Fenn said someone—who has still not been identified—had found it. The treasure chest is not the only thing Fenn hid. He also claims to have buried eight copper jars decorated with frog and dragonfly designs that contain small print versions of his autobiography.

"Not a day passes that I don't question myself about what lies just ahead and whether or not I can make it happen like it's supposed to be…" he wrote in The Thrill of the Chase, published when he was 79 years old. "Each day tests me in a different way and I know that before too long I'll make my last flight to where every memory itself will never have been. Sooner or later each of us will be nothing but the leftovers of history or an asterisk in a book that was never written."

Journal poll: Half of New Mexicans support BLM

A recent Albuquerque Journal poll on Black Lives Matter found 50% of those queried support the goals of the movement, with responses fairly divided across political lines: 77% of Democrats support BLM's goals, while 15% of Republicans say they do. That gap deepens when presidential preferences come into play: 8% of President Donald Trump's supporters in the state back BLM and 74% oppose it, whereas 81% of Joe Biden's adherents support the movement, while 6% oppose it. "Joe Biden and the Democratic Party have been highlighting social justice concerns in the presidential campaign, while the president has been downplaying them," Research and Polling Inc. President Brian Sanderoff said, "therefore, I am not surprised about the strong correlation between candidate preference and feelings toward Black Lives Matter."

State GOP touts new “fair” agenda

New Mexico's Republican Party will try to recapture the state House and Senate come November with a 101-candidate slate running on a shared campaign espousing a "fair deal" for voters. The party tweeted yesterday that the so-called Fair Deal plan will "preserve our shared cultural values, protect our communities, and ensure that New Mexicans can prosper and thrive." The Fair Deal plan is one initiative of the state GOP's Respect New Mexico campaign, through which the slated candidates—purportedly Republicans and former Democrats—have pledged "to take bold, commonsense action to help the people of our state finally and fully thrive." "We're at a tipping point," House Minority Leader James Townsend, R-Artesia, said during a streaming news conference on the initiative. House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, said there is nothing fair or new about the party's proposals: "The sad truth is that every Republican running for the New Mexico House and Senate has fully embraced Donald Trump's failed policies and hateful rhetoric and have stayed silent in the face of racism, division, and Trump's failed response to COVID-19."

Listen up

For the third episode of Santa Fe Art Institute's podcast Tilt, "Liminality, Disembodiment & Conspicuous Concealment," SFAI Residency Director Toni Gentilli talks with 2020 Labor Residents May Maylisa Cat, Millian Pham Lien Giang and Mimi Bai, all Asian diasporic artists working to navigate and give form to the invisible and emotional labor of assimilation, codeswitching and cultural production and consumption in America.

COVID-19 star power

Various television stars who film their shows in New Mexico have been lending their voices and faces to promoting NM Safe Promise, the state's COVID-19 safety campaign. Those who have taken the NM Safe Promise include Jason Isaacs and Andy Greenwald of NBC Universal's show Briarpatch; Jesse Tyler Ferguson of Modern Family; as well as Better Call Saul cast members Giancarlo Esposito, Rhea Seehorn, Jonathan Banks and Patrick Fabian. "Film and television is a smart and resilient industry," Economic Development Secretary Alicia J. Keyes said in a statement. "The people who depend on these jobs are looking to New Mexico to ensure safe and healthy workplaces."

Route 66 calling

Photojournalist Luke Sharrett could not resist Route 66's allure, he said, and recently "headed west toward the Mother Road, as John Steinbeck called it—or what was left of it, anyway." Sharrett documents the highway for the New York Times' pandemic-inspired The World Through a Lens series, characterizing Route 66 as "a testament to the American love affair with the automobile," albeit one whose heyday is long past. For the New Mexico leg of his journey, Sharrett visits and photographs Gallup where, he writes, "vintage signs advertise an array of car dealerships, and a statue of a Navajo code talker stands outside the city's train station."

Cold turkey

Did you wake up to snow? We did. Today's forecast calls for an 80% chance of precipitation, aka rain, mostly before noon and a high near 47 degrees. "Breezy," with east winds 20 to 25 mph and gusts as high as 35 mph. More rain tonight with a low temp around 40 degrees. More rain predicted tomorrow, although temps will soar back into the low 60s.

Thanks for reading! The Word offers to you all a large mea culpa for yesterday's gaffe regarding NASA's Perseverance mission to Mars, for which there are no astronauts (ergo: gaff). The Word has no explanation for this mistake, as she is well aware the mission is entirely robotic, but can only blame the occasional 5 am brain fog coupled with having too recently watched The Martian.