COVID-19 by the numbers
New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 158 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total so far to 30,632. Yesterday's numbers fell back below the health department's optimum daily new case load of 168, although those are evaluated on a seven-day rolling average. The state currently is not meeting that criteria and is at 193. The state's effective rate of transmission also has exceeded the goal of 1.05 or less and is at 1.24.
Bernalillo County again led with new cases: 51 of them, followed by Doña Ana County with 44. Sandoval County had the third highest number of new cases with 14. Santa Fe County had three new cases.
The state also announced two additional deaths from Chaves and Lea counties; there have now been 894 fatalities. Hospitalizations continue to increase: As of yesterday, 97 people were hospitalized with COVID-19.
Gov. Lujan Grisham quarantines
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham yesterday announced she is temporarily self-quarantining in Santa Fe following potential exposure to a custodial staff member at the governor's residence who tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday. The staff member had worked on the personal side of the governor's residence but did not come into personal contact with Lujan Grisham. The governor and her fiancee both were tested with negative results and neither are showing any symptoms. In addition, 37 other people who either worked at the residence or were exposed to the infected worker also were tested and had negative results. Nonetheless, the governor says in a statement she will be quarantining "out of an abundance of caution and in accordance with state Department of Health guidelines…We have all seen how quickly COVID-19 can spread, not least in the high-profile example this week provided by the White House." Lujan Grisham will be quarantining at her residence in Santa Fe for at least two weeks from the date of her possible exposure, which was Oct. 1. She and others are slated to be re-tested on Oct. 7.
US Senate hopefuls debate
New Mexicans got their first look at all three US Senate candidates debating last night during a televised broadcast between Democrat US Rep. Ben Ray Luján, former meteorologist Republican Mark Ronchetti and Libertarian candidate Bob Walsh. Recent polls from the Albuquerque Journal show Luján leading Ronchetti in the race by nine percentage points to replace outgoing US Sen. Tom Udall, a Democrat. Duing the debate, Luján focused on expanded health care, while Ronchetti homed in on crime, a central issue of his campaign. Both the state Democrat and Republican parties claimed victory for their candidates after the debate ended. "While Mark Ronchetti dodged critical questions about the future of New Mexicans' health care and how our state can overcome COVID-19, Representative Luján laid out a clear vision for the future," Democratic Party Chairwoman Marg Elliston says in a statement. A news release from the Republican state party said Ronchetti took Luján "to task" and "called Luján out for being part of the problem by not standing up to his Party boss Nancy Pelosi when she filled the House COVID bill with tax breaks for wealthy New Yorkers and the release of violent criminals." The Libertarian Party did not appear to release a statement.
Republicans attack gay community activist
The state Republican Party yesterday called on Democratic House District 40 candidate Roger Montoya to withdraw from his race after the Santa Fe New Mexican published a story that Montoya appeared in adult films nearly 40 years ago. Montoya, a community activist who founded Moving Arts Española among other achievements and was named a CNN hero in 2019, acknowledged on Facebook he had appeared in two adults films 38 years ago, saying he knew Republicans were likely to bring it up if he ran but decided "to not let the fact of something I did nearly forty years ago, in a very different time and climate, prevent me from running." At the time, he was 22 years old, living in Los Angeles and struggling financially. "I am not proud of that choice, as I was young and naïve," Montoya writes, "but those experiences helped me to understand the exploitation young people face."
Montoya's admission seemed to upset no one besides the Republican Party. Comments in response to Montoya's statement included: "Your life's work speaks for who you are!" and "I'm inspired by your candor, integrity and commitment to serving your community. Go Roger Go!" The state Democratic Party called out state Republican Party Chairman Steve Pearce for hypocrisy, noting in a news release: "Pearce's statement creates a double standard to which the New Mexico GOP has failed to hold their own candidates, including President Trump. In fact, President Trump has appeared in multiple adult films and allegedly paid a porn star $130,000 to remain silent after he cheated on his wife who had just given birth to their son."
Episode 11 of No More Normal examines the upcoming election and voting issues from myriad angles. Guests include: Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver; Rodney Bowe from the New Mexico Black Voters Collaborative; Organizers in the Land of Enchantment Executive Director Andrea Serrano; Matthew Weil, director of the Elections Project for the Bipartisan Policy Center; and many more. No More Normal is a collaboration between SFR, KUNM and PBS New
DOH urges flu shots
The state health department continues to prod everyone 6 months and older to seek out a flu shot before winter hits. A flu shot will both help people avoid getting sick, as well as save "healthcare resources and hospital rooms for treating COVID-19 patients and others with more serious health conditions," Public Health Medical Director Chris Novak says in a news release yesterday. Flu shots are available at healthcare provider offices, pharmacies, hospitals public health offices and other locations. The health department also offers them to people without insurance or who are otherwise not able to get vaccinated. You can find all the info you might want on flu right here.
City to award grants for art promoting COVID safety
The City of Santa Fe Arts and Culture Department will be awarding $750 mini grants using federal CARES funding it received for artist professional development and activations. According to an announcement of the grants, the department is seeking "projects and artists that are socially engaged public art practices that authentically honor the integrity of the people, places, stories, and ideas—past, present, and future—that are engaged in the process and presentation of the art-making to bring to life [COVID-safe practices] messaging to ensure a safe and healthy Santa Fe." The deadline for applications is Oct. 16 and people must live within Santa Fe County, be at least 18 years old and agree to non-commercial use of the artwork by the city to promote "hope with COVID Safe Practices." More details available, including links to apply, here.
Thanks for reading! The Word was pretty amused by this article about a guy named Bill DeBlasio who receives lots of mail intended for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and sometimes responds to it. It reminded her of the story in 2018 about a guy who happened to be named Brett Kavanagh, which may be the only funny thing related to Brett Kavanagh in existence.