COVID-19 by the numbers
New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 672 new COVID-19 cases—another record high for new daily cases—bringing the statewide total so far to 34,958. Bernalillo County had 303 new cases, followed most closely by Doña Ana County with 89 and Chaves County with 37. Santa Fe County had 18.
The state also announced one additional death, a female in her 70s from Luna County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions. There have now been 922 fatalities.
As of yesterday, 150 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, 21 of them on ventilators. Hospitalizations have risen 74% so far this month.
Gov details new restrictions, urges vigilance
Calling the spread of COVID-19 across New Mexico uncontrolled and the "most serious emergency" the state has ever faced, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham detailed new restrictions effective today, and warned more could come. During her weekly COVID-19 update, the governor outlined the new restrictions, which include 10 pm closing times for restaurants and bars serving alcohol; 14-day quarantines for visitors from high-risk states; lowered capacities at places of lodging; and a reduction from 10 to five people for gatherings. The governor also indicated the state would be increasing enforcement of the public health order, and potentially also rolling back indoor dining if the state can't curtail its surge. Urging people to observe extreme vigilance on mask-wearing, hand-washing and social isolation, Lujan Grisham said she was prepared "to make another really tough decision" if case numbers don't diminish. "I don't want to make that decision," she said. "I want us to show that collectively we can use these tools and attack the virus right back."
More early-voting sites open tomorrow
Santa Fe County opens additional early-voting sites tomorrow for the Nov. 3 general election, which will remain open for early voting through Oct. 31 (the Santa Fe Community Convention Center early-voting site is not open on Saturdays, with the exception of Oct. 31). Voters can also drop off their absentee ballots at any of the early-voting sites. The county has opened two new early voting sites this year, one at the town of Edgewood's administrative office and one at the Santa Fe southside library on Jaguar Drive. Voters who requested absentee ballots but now wish to vote in person can do so by signing an affidavit at the polling location. Voters can apply for absentee ballots through Oct. 20 and can register to vote in-person at the clerk's office through Oct. 31. SFR's endorsements for the ballot are available in this week's edition of the paper and online; the League of Women Voters of Santa Fe County's election guide also provides extensive information on voting, candidates and this year's ballot questions.
Flu season has arrived
The health department yesterday reported the first confirmed flu case in New Mexico, calling it "the first of many flu cases expected to be diagnosed in the coming weeks and months" in a news release. Flu patient number one is a teenager living in southeast New Mexico, whose case was confirmed by DOH's Scientific Laboratory in Albuquerque. The state continues to urge all residents over six months old to get flu shots, to both avoid contracting the flu and overwhelming medical facilities with flu and COVID-19 cases. "Flu-related illnesses make for busy times for medical professionals, especially in hospitals where ICU beds and ventilators are needed for the more severe flu cases—the same beds and equipment needed to treat severe cases of COVID-19," Department of Health Acting Cabinet Secretary Billy Jimenez said in a statement. Human Services Secretary David Scrase noted in yesterday's COVID-19 briefing that influenza shots are down 13% this year compared with last year. You'll find all the flu info you could want here.
According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, Hispanic voters—the fastest-growing group of voters in the US—say the economy, health care and the COVID-19 outbreak are the top issues for them in the upcoming presidential election. The same study finds that in New Mexico, nearly 43% of eligible voters are Hispanic. KSFR reporter Mary Lou Cooper talks about these issues in a recent interview with Pew senior researcher Ana Gonzalez-Barrera.
IAIA Dean Teters retires but stays connected
Institute of American Indian Arts' newly retired dean, activist and artist Charlene Teters (Spokane) first joined the school's staff in 1992. Retiring is emotional, she says, but it's time. "You kinda get to that age where you think, 'I want to have some really good years in retirement'—so, what does that mean?" she tells SFR this week. "What do I want to do? I've been with IAIA for a long, long time, through many different roles. And [leaving is] actually quite emotional for me—a lot more than I thought, as it gets closer. Very emotional. But I'm also looking forward to going home." Home means the Spokane Reservation in Washington State; Teters and her husband are building a home there where, she estimates, they will be able to move and live full-time in approximately two years. But retirement doesn't mean stopping the important educational work in which she has been engaged. Teters plans to continue to teach and mentor artists from home, and hopes to stay involved in teaching at IAIA.
Where the wild things are
Wired magazine reports this week that some of North America's largest predators—think wolves, mountain lions, bobcats—now secure nearly half their food from people. That's a big shift from the past and, potentially, a dangerous one that could lead to more human encounters with such animals. The information comes via a study from researchers at the University of New Mexico and the University of Wisconsin-Madison who examined hair, fur and bone samples to identify seven carnivore species' diets. UNM postdoctoral fellow Philip Manlick, the study's lead author, says the species are "eating human food….It might be garbage, or corn residue, or house cats and pets. This is bad news for carnivores, because people don't want predators eating their pets—and, generally speaking, people don't like carnivores in their backyard."
Go with the flow
Thanks for reading! The Word always finds writer Rebecca Solnit provocative and illuminating, and such is the case in her recent Lit Hub essay on the 2020 presidential elections, black swans and why "the tricky thing about hope is to not confuse it with optimism."