COVID-19 by the numbers
New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 518 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total so far to 37,302. The health department has designated 20,001 of those as recovered.
Bernalillo and Doña Ana counties continue to drive the state's surge of cases with 123 and 102 new ones, respectively, yesterday. Santa Fe County had 11, bringing the total number of cases so far to 1,379; the health department has designated 757 of those as recovered.
The state also announced one additional death from Bernalillo County; there have now been 935 fatalities. As of yesterday, 183 people were hospitalized with COVID-19—12 more than Sunday and 56 more people than one week prior.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham will be providing an update on COVID-19 at 1 pm today, which will stream live on the governor's Facebook page. Human Services Secretary David Scrase and other medical professionals urged residents yesterday in an op-ed published in SFR to maintain vigilance and not give in to pandemic fatigue.
City owes IRS $400,000
The City of Santa Fe has been out of compliance with the IRS for more than a decade and currently owes the feds $400,000. In 2009, the IRS audited the city for tax years 2006 and 2007 and fined the city for not labeling contractors as employees and taxing certain fringe benefits. The city paid $338,999 and then did not correct the issue, according to city Finance Director Mary McCoy, who briefed councilors at yesterday's Finance Committee meeting. The issue was raised again when the IRS audited the city's 2016 and 2017 tax years in 2018. Mayor Alan Webber emphasized the issue stemmed from an earlier administration, saying: "We are still cleaning up old messes." City councilors, while similarly distancing themselves from the issue, acknowledged the financial debt compounds an already precarious economic situation. "The timing couldn't be worse for us," City Councilor Signe Lindell said.
New Mexicans voting early in droves
By yesterday morning—two weeks before the Nov. 3 general election—266,522 New Mexicans had voted early, close to 125,000 in person and more than 141,600 via absentee ballots, a likely record according to the Secretary of State's Office. In Santa Fe, more than 48,000 people had voted by then and, judging by the lines downtown yesterday at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center, that number may have grown significantly. Statewide, overall, more Democrats than Republicans have cast ballots, but more Republicans have shown up for early voting: 59,553 compared to 50,647. Democrats have been voting absentee in higher numbers: 92,561 compared to 28,499 Republicans. Voting at the convention center continues through the end of the month from 8 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday. Here's a list of all the other Santa Fe County early-voting sites, which are open from noon to 8 pm Tuesday through Friday and on Saturdays from 10 am to 6 pm. Today is the last day to apply online for an absentee ballot.
Tribes worried about expanded gaming
The Legislature's Economic and Rural Development Committee heard concerns publicly yesterday for the first time from leaders of Native American tribes regarding a proposal by non-tribal racetracks and casinos to expand gaming. They said the proposal—which would allow unlimited slot machines and online gaming, among other provisions—would violate the revenue-sharing compacts the tribes have with state government. "This proposed legislation presents not only a renewed challenge to our economic security but a reckless attempt to expand private wealth at the expense of our ability to provide essential government services," Sandia Pueblo Gov. Stuart Paisano said. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's spokeswoman told the Associated Press the governor "has a very deep respect for the tribal gaming compacts and their importance to the sovereign nations within our state."
Attack ads and contemporary political rhetoric about crime have a disturbing campaign ancestor: the Willie Horton ad George Bush ran in his successful 1988 presidential campaign against Michael Dukakis. In Episode 13 of No More Normal, executive producer and longtime criminal justice reporter Marisa Demarco navigates how racist, fear-based electioneering warped the country's approach to crime. Guests include: Gene Grant, host of New Mexico In Focus; Albuquerque Journal crime reporter Elise Kaplan; and SFR contributing editor Jeff Proctor, also a longtime criminal justice reporter. No More Normal is a collaboration between SFR, KUNM and New Mexico PBS.
Eating Indigenous foods
Indigenous Peoples Day may be over, but long live Indigenous cuisine. The most recent edition of SFR's Fork newsletter delves into this rich food tradition and serves as a primer for anyone looking for a taste. For instance, Chef Ray Naranjo (Santa Clara Pueblo), the executive chef at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and a rising star in the Indigenous cuisine game, recently spoke with SFR about a dinner he was crafting with Vietnamese cooking champion Hue-Chan Karels through her Open Kitchen culinary outfit. To dive in deeper, be sure to check out Santa Fe's own Roxanne Swentzell's (Santa Clara Pueblo) Pueblo Food Experience cookbook. The Fork also is primed to receive recipes Indigenous readers are willing to share with the rest of us.
Local gov kicks off water planning
The City of Santa Fe and Santa Fe County have initiated a five-year process to develop long-range water resource management plans and are seeking public input in a variety of ways. These include a survey, now live, which asks residents to rate a variety of issues—from water costs to Santa Fe River flow to utility customer service—and to compare various social and economic benefits related therein. Other public engagement activities include overview webinars (there's one today at 5 pm) and upcoming break-out sessions drilling down into specific issues. You'll find all the deets here.
High and dry
If you're wondering when it might rain again around here, you're not alone. Right now, our first shot at rain—and it's a slim one—doesn't arrive until Sunday. For reference: Today is Tuesday. And today looks sunny with a high near 72 degrees and north wind 10 to 15 mph becoming west in the afternoon.
Thanks for reading! The Word took a tiny break from reading to look at photographs: this National Parks Magazine photo essay on the history of racial justice demonstrations in national parks and this Washington Post magazine piece about artist Mary Welcome's project photographing US post offices (Pie Town, NM right at the top).