COVID-19 by the numbers
Over the weekend, New Mexico health officials reported 487 new COVID-19 cases: 298 on Saturday and 189 on Sunday. There have now been 30,477 total cases so far. Bernalillo County led with new cases over the weekend: 122 of them, followed by Doña Ana County with 113 and Chaves County with 54. Santa Fe County added 34 new cases over the weekend: 13 on Saturday and 21 on Sunday. The weekend's cases followed Friday's record high of 341 new cases.
The state also announced five additional deaths over the weekend—three on Saturday and two on Sunday— from Bernalillo, Curry, Doña Ana and San Juan counties, bringing the total number of fatalities to 892.
As of yesterday, 91 people were hospitalized with COVID-19.
Clerks start mailing absentee ballots tomorrow
Tomorrow is the deadline for New Mexicans to register online to vote. It's also the day county clerks across the state will start mailing out absentee ballots to voters who have already requested them and the day in-person absentee voting starts at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center. However, voters also have the option of registering to vote in person until Oct. 31, and have until Oct. 20 to request an absentee ballot. Early voting at other sites in the county starts Oct. 17. In other words: lots of dates and moving parts. So far, New Mexico voters have embraced the prospect of absentee voting: As of the end of last week, 295,511 voters had requested such ballots. In 2016, only 76,476 voters cast absentee ballots in the general election. Once you've got your ballot in hand, the League of Women Voters Education Fund's 411 site will let you peruse candidates' responses to LWV's questionnaires, upcoming debates, important dates and other election information.
US Supreme Court takes up NM water issue
The US Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments today in Texas v. New Mexico, litigation first filed in 1974. The case had been inactive since the 1990s until relatively recently. The current case—which the court's blog says is unlikely to set precedent beyond the Pecos River—stems from events in 2014, when Tropical Storm Odile dumped heavy rains on the Pecos Basin. The US Bureau of Reclamation then held some of the resulting water back in Brantley Reservoir, which is located on the Pecos River above Carlsbad. Long story short, New Mexico stored the water for Texas at its request, as the latter state wanted to utilize the flows in the Red Bluff Reservoir for irrigation. Nine months later, New Mexico still had the water, approximately 30,000 acres of which was released down the Pecos and lost by Texas, which couldn't store and/or use it. Even before it was released, more than 21,000 acre-feet had evaporated. The original compact and an amended decree fail to speak to which state should bear the evaporation costs, but the river master decided Texas should be charged with most of the evaporation losses; this decision is what the court will hear arguments about today.
Sunport travel picks up
Albuquerque's International Sunport is "looking a little more like an airport" and less like a ghost town, according to Sunport Spokesperson Jonathan Small. Although traffic is still below normal, it's reportedly been gradually increasing since April. In August, passengers were down by 77% from the same time the previous year; that number has now decreased to 71%, with approximately 4,800 travelers every day. Previously canceled flights have been returning to the airport, including JetBlue's flight to John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York. That route had been canceled in May but is now available mid-afternoon on Thursdays and Sundays. Several other airlines have resumed flights to Austin, Las Vegas, Baltimore, Atlanta, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and Orlando.
If you're confused about what, if anything, Trump's COVID-19 diagnosis means for the election, you're not alone. University of New Mexico Political Science Professor Lonna Atkeson, director of UNM's Center for the Study of Voting, Elections and Democracy, has been hearing from lots of folks wanting to know the implications for the election and beyond. Atkeson spoke with KUNM on the issue, looking at some of the various options and scenarios. One non-option, Atkeson says, is postponing the election: "There's no way anyone's changing or postponing voting," she says. "I mean, we are in process, people have already voted. There's just no way."
On the one hand, the game of golf has "a rotten history of racism, sexism and exclusivity, which, in these current times of upheaval, perhaps it still deserves," SFR's Jeff Proctor writes. On the other, during COVID-19, the game has been a "respite, mental health save…and a lifesaver" for some. Count Proctor, who grew up with the sport, among them. For SFR's most recent cover story, "Links for Life," Proctor spent some time at Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe, where in July and August, rounds were up over last year by more than 2,400. "There was this idea that golf could be this beacon of light in a time of despair," says Alo Brodsky, Marty's head golf professional. "It's kind of something those of us around the game always probably knew, but it made sense in a different way after all of this: On the course, it's always been social, while distanced."
First encounters with Georgia O’Keeffe
Before she became the author of the definitive biography of Georgia O'Keeffe, Roxana Robinson met the famous and reclusive artist somewhat through luck. Robinson was working in the American paintings department at Sotheby's in New York and had received an O'Keeffe painting of Canadian barns. In search of information about the painting, Robinson called O'Keeffe's agent at the time, which led to an unexpected meeting with the artist herself, then in her early 80s, who wanted to see the painting in person. Nearly 20 years later, Robinson was hired to write the biography that became Georgia O'Keeffe: A Life, reissued this month. Robinson writes of meeting O'Keeffe for the New Yorker in an Oct. 1 essay adapted from the book.
If the weekend skies looked a bit hazy, today's might look even more hazy, as today's forecast calls for "widespread haze" after noon. In addition to being hazy, the day also will be sunny with a high near 82 degrees and north wind around 10 mph. Might be time to take advantage of the fleeting and beautiful autumn days and make reservations to visit the pumpkin patch.