COVID-19 by the numbers
New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 426 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total so far to 31,372. It was the second highest day of new cases since July 27, when there were 467 cases.
Bernalillo County continued to lead with the most new cases: 120, followed by Doña Ana County with 70 and Chaves County with 35. Santa Fe County had 31 new cases. The state also announced two additional deaths from McKinley and San Juan counties; there have now been 896 fatalities. As of yesterday, 109 people were hospitalized with COVID-19.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and other state officials will provide an update on COVID-19 at 3 pm today during a remote news conference streamed live on the governor's Facebook page and other local television stations' websites.
Food Depot struggles with Trump letter
Like other food banks around the country, The Food Depot in Northern New Mexico is concerned about a letter from Donald Trump being included in Coronavirus Food Assistance Program emergency food boxes received by the food banks. The letter, written in both English and Spanish, reads, in part: "As President, safeguarding the health and well-being of our citizens is one of my highest priorities…As part of our response to coronavirus, I prioritized sending nutritious food from our farmers to families in need throughout America."
Democrat lawmakers tried to block the letter last summer, sending a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue that said including it in federally funded food boxes could violate the Hatch Act, which prohibits executive branch employees from engaging in political activity. The USDA disagreed and continued with the plan. Some food banks across the country are removing them before distributing, but Jill Dixon, development director at The Food Depot, says the nonprofit doesn't have enough staff to do so. Joel Berg, chief executive of Hunger Free America, a nationwide anti-hunger nonprofit organization told the Washington Post that inclusion of Trump's letter "is absolutely outrageous…It essentially blackmails nonpartisan food charities into aiding Trump's reelection campaign by threatening more Americans to go hungry if these food boxes are not distributed."
3rd Congressional District candidates face off
They sparred and had interruptions but, overall, the discussion was civil and offered stark contrasts of the candidates. We're talking, of course, about last night's debate between 3rd Congressional District candidates Democrat Teresa Leger Fernandez and Republican Alexis Johnson Martinez. Both hope to succeed US Rep. Ben Ray Luján, who is running for US Senate to replace Tom Udall, who is not seeking re-election. The debate did require the moderator to step in a few times to keep candidates focused after Johnson twice interrupted her opponent. Leger Fernandez is favored in the race, according to a recent Albuquerque Journal poll showing her with 50% of likely voters' support; Johnson with 35%; and 15% undecided. As with last night's vice-presidential debate, the 3CD debate also showcased candidates with differing views of COVID-19. Johnson was cited on the Santa Fe Plaza last summer for refusing to wear a mask and told officers she didn't support any infringement on her constitutional rights; Leger Fernandez criticized Donald Trump's handling of the pandemic and Johnson for defending it.
State of the City
Mayor Alan Webber will deliver the State of the City today at 5 pm in virtual format with the address streaming live on the city's YouTube channel; a recording will be available to view after the event has concluded. That is basically the entirety of the information provided, although one can assume the mayor will address rising COVID-19 stats in Santa Fe among other topics. He did so already this week on Monday during a virtual news conference, reminding city employees to "be super careful as they go about their work" after a city firefighter tested positive and four others were quarantined. Santa Fe County has added 65 new cases just since Sunday.
In the most recent episode of Augmented Humanity, artist and educator Agnes Chavez discusses the inter-relationship between art, science, technology and nature, both as a "process and as a tool for social change." As an artist, her work focuses on data visualization, light, sound and space. Chavez is a founding member of The PASEO Festival, and the founder of the STEMarts LAB. Augmented Humanity is produced by the New Mexico Humanities Council in partnership with KUNM.
Dolores Huerta looks to the future
Civil rights icon and New Mexico native Dolores Huerta, age 90, feels optimistic about the new generation of activists, despite the challenges the country is facing. Co-founder of the National Farm Workers Association with César Chávez, Huerta spoke with New Mexico writer Carlos Andres López for a recent New York Times special section, World Review: The State of Democracy, about racism, activism and the current state of the US, saying: "The pandemic has hit us very, very hard. At the same time, it has highlighted so many of the issues that we have had with us for so many decades: racism, income inequality, the way women are treated, our educational system—which we know is lacking—our judicial system, our criminal justice system." Still, the woman who coined the phrase "Sí, se puede" ("Yes, we can") still has hope: "I think that young people are the ones who are going to drag us into the 21st century and to get rid of fossil fuels, create green energy jobs and to develop an economy that will help everyone—not just a few."
Quarantining with art
Hyperallergic magazine interviews several artists, including Santa Fe artist Susan York, about quarantining with their collections, asking if the COVID-19 lockdown has caused them to look "at your personal collection differently now" and, if so, "which works in particular?" York, known for her work in graphite—which is shown in numerous public and foundation collections in the US and internationally—says she's been looking at 11 white vases by Eva Zeisel on her mantle: "The ones I've been shifting around a little every day since March. I've come to understand more about them in the past seven months than in the previous six years that I've had them. I'm transfixed by these multiple forms because in my earlier life as a potter I learned the beauty of pure form, the importance of craftsmanship, and the power of repetition." Initially, York says, she "assumed that Zeisel's nearly interlocking vases fit symmetrically against each other like puzzle pieces. But when I push two of them against each other and their curves nearly touch, it all changes."
Fingers crossed, this could be our last day of widespread haze for a bit. In addition to haze, today's forecast calls for a sunny day with a high near 81 degrees and north wind 10 to 15 mph becoming west in the afternoon. But looking ahead, we could be in for clearer and cooler skies and temps—stay tuned!