COVID-19 by the numbers

Over the weekend, New Mexico health officials reported 203 new COVID-19 cases: 100 on Saturday and 103 on Sunday. The statewide total number of cases thus far is now 26,761. Chaves County led with new cases: 40 total over the weekend, followed by Bernalillo County with 33 and Doña Ana County with 29. Santa Fe County had 10 new cases over the weekend: five on each day.

The state also reported five additional deaths: three on Saturday and two on Sunday from Bernalillo, Lea and McKinley counties, bringing the total number of fatalities to 823. As of yesterday, 59 people were hospitalized with COVID-19.

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.

Migratory birds dying in New Mexico

In keeping with the general tenor of things, New Mexico biologists say migratory birds have been dying in "unprecedented numbers" of late, with New Mexico State University and White Sands Missile Range biologists examining nearly 300 of them over the weekend. "It is terribly frightening," Martha Desmond, a professor at NMSU's Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Ecology, said. "We've never seen anything like this…We're losing probably hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of migratory birds." Dead birds found last month at White Sands turned out not to be an isolated incident and, since then, birds—warblers, sparrows, swallows, blackbirds, flycatchers and the western wood pewee—have been "behaving strangely" and dying in Doña Ana County, Jemez Pueblo, Roswell and Socorro, to name a few places around the state. While experts are considering various reasons for the birds' deaths—drought, smoke, storms—they are asking people who find dead birds to contribute to this iNaturalist online database for research purposes.

PED: Schools to receive new air filters

The state Public Education Department on Friday announced that many school buildings across New Mexico will receive upgraded air filters in the coming weeks as some students return part-time to in-person learning. According to a news release, PED officials are working with the Public School Facilities Authority and district leaders to identify which air filters currently are in use; evaluate those filters' efficacy in removing "tiny particles like viruses from the air;" and identify the highest-quality air filters compatible with each existing heating and cooling system. Elementary schools that brought students back last week have been asked to assess and upgrade their filters by the end of this week. Schools and districts planning to open later will need to do so prior to starting in-person learning. "If we're going to let our precious children and our cherished educators return to in-person learning, we must do everything in our power to keep them as safe as possible," Education Secretary Ryan Stewart said in a statement. "We now know that upgrading air filtration in buildings is one such thing."

The bicycle thieves

The Santa Fe Police Department is asking for public help in identifying and catching suspects involved in recent downtown thefts of high-value bicycles. According to a news release, SFPD has taken three reports in the past week on the theft of four full suspension electric-assisted bikes and one Trek mountain bike. Thieves used bolt cutters to steal the bikes, all of which were secured with bike locks on vehicle racks. The bikes and their serial numbers have been entered into the National Crime Information Center as stolen property. The bicycles ranged in value from $6,000 to $13,500. After one of the thefts, surveillance video captured suspects; SFPD asks anyone with info to immediately contact Santa Fe Police at 505-428-3710.

Listen up

Is it too soon for a pandemic retrospective? Hard to say now that time no longer has meaning. Episode 9 of No More Normal looks back at the stories of the last six months, revisiting interviews with: Navajo Nation President Jonathan NezGov. Michelle Lujan GrishamAlbuquerque Mayor Tim KellerRep. Deb HaalandSen. Tom UdallMariaelena Lopez, who lost her mom to COVID-19 early on in the pandemic; young adults weighing social distancing and the futuremusicians exploring hip-hop and the music industryand many more. This show also features SFR's Julie Ann Grimm and New Mexico PBS' Kevin McDonald discussing the partnership behind this show.

Luke Spangenburg’s vision

Luke Spangenburg left behind a vision of resilience and sovereignty at Santa Fe Community College, where he was director of Santa Fe Community College's Biofuels Center of Excellence as well as its Training Center Corporation. "He saw the good in everyone," Apogee Spirulina founder and former student Nicholas Petrović says, "and pulled it out of them and made them better people." Spangenburg died suddenly over the Labor Day weekend, bequeathing a legacy his colleagues plan to uphold. "Luke's left a large void," Ondine Frauenglass, a lab technician in the Trades and Advanced Technologies Center, "and at the same time he was so connected by friendship, by community ties to so many people that there's a tremendous amount of support in trying to figure out how to proceed. We feel like he provided us with a legacy that needs to be honored." SFR's nonprofit arm, the New Mexico Fund for Public Interest Journalism, partnered with Spangenburg last year for one of its journalism student training projects: "Roadmap for Resilience."

Volcanic New Mexico

"Every volcano is like a living thing. They are born, live, die, and leave behind their remains, eventually returning to the Earth as fragmented rock and soil." So begins Larry Crumpler's story in the fall edition of El Palacio Magazine examining our state's volcanoes, "The Land of a Thousand Volcanoes." As the headline indicates and Crumpler explicates, New Mexico has close to 1,000 centers of volcanic eruption younger than 4 million years old, and many even younger. These include two of the largest young lava flows on the continent: the El Malpais National Monument and Valley of Fires State Park flows; as well as the young super-eruption the Valles Caldera. Crumpler, a self-funded research curator of volcanology and space sciences at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, offers what amounts to a beginner's seminar in the local landscape, as fascinating as it is revelatory.

Hazy days

Today's forecast looks hazy, as in the skies will be hazy courtesy wildfire smoke. When it's not hazy, it will be mostly sunny with a high near 71 degrees and northeast wind 5 to 10 mph becoming southeast in the morning. More haze tonight.

Thanks for reading! The Word recognizes the ontological and ethical concerns anthropomorphism carries. Still, these 2020 Comedy Wildlife Photography Award finalists are pretty cute (and the competition is part of a conservation effort).