COVID-19 by the numbers

New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 92 new COVID-19 cases, led by Doña Ana County with 17, Chaves County with 16 and Lea County with nine new cases. Santa Fe County had four new cases. The new cases bring the total number of cases so far in New Mexico to 26,268. As recently reported positive test results for COVID-19 indicate, cases are declining across all public health regions, according to the state's most recent modeling report.

The state also reported six additional deaths from Bernalillo, Doña Ana, Lea and Sandoval counties; there have now been 813 total fatalities. As of yesterday, 77 people are hospitalized with COVID-19.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham will testify remotely today at 10 am MST before the US House Financial Services Committee to share her perspective as governor on the impact of COVID-19 on New Mexico's budget and the critical need for additional federal aid to states for pandemic recovery. You can watch that here. The governor also will hold news conference today at 4 pm on the state's COVID-19 efforts, which will stream live on the governor's Facebook page, as well as on various television news stations' websites.

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.

City Council approves reorganization

A divided Santa Fe City Council voted last night to approve a plan reorganizing and consolidating city departments. Councilors Michael Garcia, Renee Villarreal and JoAnne Vigil Coppler voted against the plan, and criticized the process. "It's been divisive not just between staff and directors but also within our own council. I feel like it was a toxic way to handle things," City Councilor Renee Villarreal said. Conflict between councilors heightened when Councilor Roman "Tiger" Abeyta "called" for a vote, a parliamentary procedure that ended the debate, a move Garcia described as disrespectful. The proposal, upon which the city's 2021 fiscal year budget is built, will consolidate most existing city departments under the umbrellas of three new departments: Community Development; Community Health and Safety; and Community Engagement. Representatives of the city employee unions spoke out against the measure, questioned its timing and said employees felt their concerns had not been heard.

City board rejects George RR Martin’s castle proposal

Santa Fe's Historic Design Review Board on Tuesday rejected George RR Martin's proposal to build a library designed to look like a castle and named the Water Garden Keep at his home on Camino Corrales. Martin and his wife require an exemption because the proposed structure, which includes a tower, exceeds height restrictions. Martin's neighbors object to the project, with one reportedly telling DailyMail.com, "'We thought it was Winterfell when we first saw the plans. All it's missing is Jon Snow and a couple of dragons." According to the story, "designs for the keep's grand hall, roof deck and ramparts draw upon the 'defensive fortifications' seen in Medieval castles and the 'mystical spaces' associated with cathedrals, adding 'a hint of the exotic' from Moorish architecture." While the most recent plan is a revision from a project rejected by the board in January, this one also failed to receive approval. "'It is a Medieval castle and I don't understand how we could possibly approve it," Vice Chair Frank Katz said.

India Palace attack still unsolved

The investigation into the vandalism of downtown restaurant India Palace is "in limbo" while the FBI analyzes the crime, according to Santa Fe Police Department Capt. Anthony Tapia. The joint investigation kicked off when SFPD classified the vandalism of the restaurant as a hate crime and tentatively tied it to vandalism of the Plaza obelisk that also happened on the evening of June 21. Along with items found at the scene, Tapia says the FBI is analyzing handwriting from spray-painted words on the walls inside the restaurant. SFPD has not arrested anyone or identified any suspects. Despite not much movement on the India Palace investigation, repairs and renovations are ongoing, according to Cameron Brown, executive assistant to the Singh family, which owns the restaurant. Police also have not provided an update on the investigation to anyone there. "The restaurant will hopefully be open soon. We don't have a date. Repairs are coming a long way," Brown writes to SFR. "Just seeing if we're going to do a full open or just take out."

Listen up

The show must go on, particularly when the show is the 3rd Annual 99th Annual Santa Fe Fiesta Melodrama"Time Turning Tyrants Taunt Town: a Topical Tale of Tangible Turmoil and Testy Turbulence" or "Art Appraiser Propagates Disproportionate Approbation for Inappropriate Appropriation of Protected Property" or "Conniving Karen and the Free-Wheeling, Art-Dealing, Scene-Stealer." This year's annual satirical tribute to all things Santa Fe has gone virtual, so you'll be booing villains and cheering heroes from the comfort of home. The Melodrama will be released episodically online, starting today at 7 pm and continuing through Oct. 8 on Thursdays at the same time each week for free. If you miss the live events, you can access them later for a small fee. You can catch the trailer here.

If walls could talk

This week heralds the third installment of SFR's "Castles, Ruins and Mysteries" series, in which SFR staff members explore the stories behind the city's landmarks, be they icons, eyesores or something in between. This year's buildings include the Scottish Rite Center, patterned partly after the Alhambra in Spain and known locally as "the pink church"; the White Building on McKenzie Street, which has a wild history of murder and intrigue; and the Greek Orthodox Church in Eldorado, which would look at home near the Mediterranean Sea, but stands out in our desert/adobe landscape.

Penny for your thoughts

The Santa Fe-based television and film company Goodwest Productions has optioned The Penny, an original screenplay by New Mexico writers Donald Davenport (Santa Fe) and Harry Musselwhite (Los Lunas). Set in New Mexico, the film—which tells the story of a single mother who finds a rare and valuable penny—will be developed in 2020 for production in 2021, according to a news release. "We have a great script that weaves a deep and colorful New Mexico tale with diverse characters and strong storytelling," Goodwest Productions co-founder Steve Graham says. "We're ready to get started as soon as the state is opened up, and it's safe to move forward." The Las Cruces Sun News recently interviewed Steve Graham, co-founder Carolyn Graham, Davenport and Musselwhite about the script; filmmaking in the time of COVID-19; and their own histories in the state and the industry. Goodwest Productions is currently seeking financing partnerships and is open to coproductions for The Penny.

More rain in the immediate future

Today's forecast calls for scattered showers amid a mostly cloudy day with a 50% chance of precipitation, a high near 55 degrees and southeast wind 10 to 15 mph. A slight chance of more rain this evening before 3 am and patchy fog after midnight (do we stay up to look for the patchy fog? Probably not). Tomorrow will be mostly sunny with a high around 71 degrees.

Thanks for reading! The Word was halfway through this amazing Atlas Obscura interview about what humans can learn from trees ("Trees Have Their Own Way of Social Distancing") before she realized it was written by a former student, which only made her love it more.