COVID-19 by the numbers
New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 663 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total so far to 43,826. Bernalillo County led with 273 new cases, followed by Doña Ana County with 97. Santa Fe County had the third highest number of cases with 46.
The state also announced 11 additional deaths from Bernalillo, Curry, Doña Ana, Eddy, Roosevelt and Taos counties; there have now been 991 fatalities. As of yesterday, 313 people were hospitalized with COVID-19. An Oct. 26 health department report on hospitalizations counts 257 new hospitalizations in the week prior.
New Mexico Human Services Department Secretary David Scrase, Presbyterian Health Chief Medical Officer Jason Mitchell and Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center Chief Medical Officer David Gonzales will provide a COVID-19 modeling webinar update today at 1:30 pm, which will stream live on the New Mexico Human Services Department's Facebook page.
City of Santa Fe bans no-knock warrants
The Santa Fe City Council last night unanimously passed an ordinance banning the Santa Fe Police Department from using "no-knock" warrants—search warrants that allow police to enter homes without announcing themselves. Such warrants came under renewed national scrutiny following the death of Breonna Taylor last March after police in Louisville, Kentucky entered her home with a no-knock warrant and then shot Taylor. That city also banned no-knock warrants last June, as have numerous cities across the country. Virginia became the third state to do so yesterday. Santa Fe Deputy Police Chief Paul Joye told city councilors last night an internal audit shows SFPD hasn't executed a single no-knock warrant in at least 10 years, and the department supports the effort to formally ban the practice. Santa Fe's new ordinance also requires officers to wear their body cameras at all times while conducting search warrants, and to retain the data for five years. "I think this is a very good step for the city to take," Mayor Alan Webber said. "I know that we are all very deeply invested in both public safety from the point of view of having our laws enforced thoroughly, and we're deeply concerned about public safety from the way those policies are enforced." The council also approved various private security contracts last night, including one that provides 24/7 security on the Plaza until next June.
Anti-BLM vandals target Casa Solana neighborhood
Multiple households in the Casa Solana neighborhood woke up yesterday to find their political art and yard signs had been vandalized overnight. Graffiti scrawled in red spray paint covered Black Lives Matter posters and murals outside at least five separate residences with the words "blue lives matter," "racist" and "bigot." The vandalism reflects rising political tensions heading into the Nov. 3 election, but Fatima Van Hattum, who lives in one of the homes where signs were vandalized, says the incident is only the latest in a string of episodes she and her neighbors have experienced in recent weeks and months. "Every house with a Black Lives Matter sign on our street has been egged or had a windshield broken," Van Hattum says. "It's been pretty clear that these events did not happen by chance but definitely by design." Several residents say they filed police reports about the incidents. SFPD spokesman Greg Gurule told SFR late Wednesday he couldn't confirm how many homes were targeted, although he said a department captain was evaluating whether any additional reports in the same time frame or area might be related.
COVID-19 learning leaving students behind
A report presented yesterday to the Legislative Finance Committee presents a grim picture of the impact COVID-19 has had on New Mexico schools and students. The report indicates students may end up losing anywhere from four months to more than a year of learning, with remote learning already disproportionately impacting special-education students and those who live in poverty. In the Santa Fe Public Schools, half of middle and high school students had at least one failing grade, according to separate information reported by the Santa Fe New Mexican.
Teachers, superintendents and parents who participated in LFC interviews or focus groups also "reported concerning levels of depression and anxiety among students due to isolation or the challenge of keeping up with schoolwork online." Moreover, the report says, over approximately seven weeks in August and September, seven student athletes in New Mexico died by suicide, and one additional student athlete was hospitalized for a suicide attempt. The report says as of late October, New Mexico was one of only seven states with an order from a governor keeping schools partially closed to in-person instruction. Yet even under those orders, 84% of the kindergarten through fifth grade public school populations could have returned to some in-person learning this fall; instead, less than half of eligible students were offered the option by local districts. Among other specifics, the report recommends "controlling the virus to levels that make it possible for more students to return to school."
In June of 2019, Kyana Gordon writes, "I took a leap of faith and traveled across America to meet thirty-one everyday people who believed in my vision and reflected on the intimate details of their lives. We talked about E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G: memories, love, community, the state of America, home, safety, and the values that have fortified their survival." The resulting podcast, OUT HERE, will ultimately include stories from eight New Mexicans. Episode 3 features Lorene Willis from Dulce, who talks about life on the Jicarilla Apache reservation.
Right in Time
Nothing beats seeing Lucinda Williams perform live, and Santa Fe has had many opportunities to do so as she's been a regular here for years (a particularly epic performance at the former Paramount nightclub, now known as the county courthouse, springs to mind). But if you were going to shell out for a livestream concert, don't miss Williams' Lu's Jukebox, at 6 pm tonight, the first of a six-part cover series, which kicks off tonight with "Runnin' Down a Dream: A Tribute to Tom Petty." Best yet: Your $20 ticket partially supports local AMP Concerts, the force behind so many of the live concerts we've seen over the years (and will again in the future).
Shadows and ghosts in NM
'Tis the season for scary stories, and if those spooky tales happen to have New Mexico scenery, all the better. Folklorist Nasario García pens ghost stories of rural New Mexico for New Mexico Magazine this month, writing that his grandparents' ranch in Río Puerco provided the perfect spot—complete with howling coyotes—to listen to his mother's "tantalizing tales of bewitchment and evil spirits" and his father's "scary stories of ghostly apparitions and phantasmagoric creatures." The stories García shares in the magazine are his original ones, he says, but they "reflect the spirit of those I heard from my parents, my grandparents, and elders in our community."
The big melt
Today's forecast indicates "areas of freezing fog" before 9 am, after which it will be sunny, with a high near 52 degrees with north wind 5 to 15 mph becoming southwest in the afternoon. We're going to go out on a limb and predict it will also be muddy.