COVID-19 by the numbers
Yesterday, New Mexico health officials reported 577 new COVID-19 cases, far outstripping the former highest day of 488 new cases last week. The new numbers come as Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham prepares to announce amendments to the public health order during a public briefing at 3 pm today, which will stream live on her Facebook page and KRQE.
Bernalillo County continues to lead with the most new cases: 199 yesterday, followed by Doña Ana County with 108 and Chaves County with 66. Santa Fe County had 17 new cases.
The state also announced three additional deaths from Bernalillo, Chaves and Doña Ana counties; there have now been 921 fatalities. As of yesterday, 145 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, 20 more than the day prior.
City Council renews homeless shelter lease
Following more than two hours of debate last night, the Santa Fe City Council voted unanimously to renew a four-year lease for the Interfaith Community Shelter at its current location at Pete's Pets on Cerrillos Road. Councilor Renee Villarreal, who represents the district in which Pete's Place is located, introduced two amendments to the lease, one of which requires the shelter to host two annual meetings with neighboring businesses and residents; it passed after Councilor Jamie Cassutt-Sanchez altered it to make the city equally responsible for the meetings. Villarreal's second amendment—which would have changed the lease to two years with the opportunity to renew—took up the bulk of the discussion and ultimately drew a tied vote in Councilor Signe Lindell's absence. Councilors also approved a contract with the Salvation Army to create an additional cold weather shelter, and to use approximately $1.8 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act money to help homeless people and others in danger of losing their homes.
Council supports post-obelisk reconciliation effort
During last night's virtual City Council meeting, Mayor Alan Webber discussed his proposal to create a commission that could address, going forward, points of cultural controversy and deep-seeded historical pain, such as that surrounding the toppled Plaza obelisk. Councilors expressed support for the commission, but also reiterated anger that activists took matters into their hands after the mayor didn't follow through on his pledge to remove the monument last June. Only six people signed up to speak about the incident last night, with most of them berating Webber for failing to take action. "You have waited until the eleventh hour to address many, many issues. This has resulted in a very unfortunate situation with mob mentality," Lydia Clark said. City Councilor Renee Villareal also said she had questions for the protesters: "Is it just a chance for them to say they were involved, or are they actually invested in this community? What have they done to support the youth? What have they done to support affordable housing and the complications in the gentrification—that's another form of colonization," she said. "I just have a hard time with people who are not invested in the community who just show up and then disappear and then they have the privilege of going home and not dealing with the consequences."
AG Barr says Operation Legend success in ABQ
Attorney General William Barr and other federal and state officials say Operation Legend—a law enforcement initiative launched over the summer to fight violent crime—has been a success in New Mexico. Speaking yesterday from FBI headquarters in Albuquerque, Barr described Operation Legend's "backbone" as "our joint task forces where we work shoulder to shoulder with federal agents, with our state and local partners on the task force to target violent criminals." That effort in Albuquerque, he said, has led to 113 federal arrests as well as many state arrests. Barr, US Attorney for New Mexico John Anderson and FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich said 40 federal agents had worked on the effort here. However, officials provided no statistics on whether violent crime has decreased as a result of their efforts, nor would they take questions from the media during the briefing.
Just in time for…Halloween, the sixth and final episode of the Santa Fe Playhouse's 2020 Fiesta Melodrama, "We Are New Mexicans" or "Ay, Not Again!" or "The Finale…?" airs tonight. Throughout the series, a group of local Santa Fe heroes have traveled through time, accidentally altering Santa Fe's past and creating alternative versions of the City Different: New MuncieCo, Santa Fenix, New East Arizona and The Holy Republic of Texas. Not to worry: In tonight's finale, the heroes will catch the villain and maybe, just maybe, return Santa Fe to the town we all know and love (and hopefully bring back New Mexico chile!) You can check out the finale tonight at 7 pm for free on YouTube. You can catch up on some or all of the episodes for a small fee on Vimeo. And if ever there was a time to catch up on Santa Fe's history as it pertains to the Melodrama, this might be it. Be sure to check out the dramaturgy packets for each episode.
Creative Santa Fe hits pause
Creative Santa Fe announced yesterday the organization "will move into an inactive state" as of Nov. 1. Executive Director Cyndi Conn writes in the announcement the decision was made due to the economic and logistical challenges COVID-19 poses. The board of directors, she says, will "take this time of dormancy to assess the developing new environment for non-profits, and to assess if and how Creative Santa Fe can help our community move forward in the future." Conn herself is moving to Park City, Utah, to take a position with a private project as a curator and program lead. The nearly 15-year-old organization has created and been involved with numerous projects over the years, including the Siler Yard Arts + Creativity Center and the forthcoming Santa Fe Data Platform.
Lab techs wanted
National shortages in clinical laboratories have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent Wall Street Journal story that assesses labs' chronic understaffing and, now, overworked employees: The US processed more than a million daily tests four times in the past week alone. Employees at New Mexico's TriCore Reference Laboratories have been feeling the pressure as well; New Mexico has processed just over a million tests since the pandemic began. "They've been working really hard, and people are getting burned out," TriCore's Chief Scientific Officer David Grenache, president of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry, tells the WSJ about the lab's employees. "I can replace hardware and I can manage not having enough reagents, but I can't easily replace a qualified technologist." Shortages in the field have been increasing for years due to low recruitment, an aging workforce and relatively low pay compared to others in the medical field.
Remembrance of things past
Thanks for reading! If you can't get enough of decolonization and destruction, be sure to read this New York Review of Books story about the demolition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.