COVID-19 by the numbers
New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 877 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total so far to 48,104. Bernalillo and Doña Ana counties accounted for more than half of those, with 245 and 220 new cases, respectively. Santa Fe County had the third highest number of new cases: 62.
The state also announced 10 additional deaths from eight counties; there have now been 1,036 fatalities. As of yesterday, 382 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, 17 more than the day prior and 93 more than one week ago. According to a news release from the governor's office, 74% of general beds and 69% of ICU beds at New Mexico hospitals are currently occupied with both COVID and non-COVID patients.
Election Day is here!
First things first: If you haven't voted yet, polls opened at 7 am and remain open until 7 pm. You can cast your ballot at any of Santa Fe County's Voter Convenience Centers. If you're sick or quarantined and can't get to the polls, you can apply for a provisional ballot by submitting an emergency affidavit. According to the Secretary of State's Office, more than 770,000 of New Mexico's approximate 1.3 million registered voters cast early and absentee ballots. Close to half of them were registered Democrats, approximately 35% were Republicans and the remaining voters either declined to state (15%) or were registered to the Libertarian or other parties. In Santa Fe County, more than 71,000 people have already voted—close to 50,000 of whom are registered Democrats.
SFR will be reporting on the election throughout the day and into the night on our various social media accounts and website (where you can also find our election guide if you're voting today). The Secretary of State's Office will begin posting results at 7 pm. While New Mexico expects to have the bulk of its results tonight and by tomorrow, results will vary across the country. As for the outcome here in the presidential race, polls show former Vice President Joe Biden with a lead against President Donald Trump. According to the New York Times, Trump mentioned making a last-minute push in New Mexico, an idea some of his aides told him was "flatly unrealistic."
Down the ballot
A recent Albuquerque Journal poll shows Democratic US Rep. Ben Ray Luján in the lead in his US Senate race against former television meteorologist and Republican Mark Ronchetti. According to the poll, 52% of likely voters said they planned to or had already voted for Luján, while 44% said the same for Ronchetti. Libertarian candidate Bob Walsh apparently "trailed" behind both of them. The race will decide who succeeds Democratic US Sen. Tom Udall, who is not seeking re-election. Democratic lawyer Teresa Leger Fernandez is running to take Luján's seat representing New Mexico's 3rd Congressional District, competing against Republican Alexis Johnson, one of several races in which Democrats hope to maintain their dominance in New Mexico. In the case of the state Senate, Dems hope to expand their majority today.
Gov seeks money for tourism
Yesterday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham proposed a $25 million special appropriation in the 2022 fiscal year budget for the state's tourism industry as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. "This economic stimulus package for the tourism industry will expedite our state's efforts to diversify our economy and get back on track," Lujan Grisham said. According to a news release from the state Tourism Department, it may take the national tourism industry five years to recover to pre-COVID levels of spending; without investment, it says, New Mexico could take seven years and the estimated 2020 loss is approximately $4.3 billion. "New Mexico has a strategic advantage coming out of COVID-19 due to its strong outdoor recreation assets and abundance of open spaces," Tourism Cabinet Secretary Jen Paul Schroer said. "However, this advantage cannot be realized if New Mexico is not competitive with other states actively investing stimulus funds for tourism promotion."
Who knows what tonight will bring? As we all wait together, be sure to tune into New Mexico PBS' livestream election night discussion, which will feature journalists from across the state (SFR included) talking about the state's races and other election-day news. You can catch the stream on either the New Mexico PBS or New Mexico in Focus websites or Facebook page. At 8 pm, the state Democratic Party also will be holding a virtual election night event, emceed by State Auditor Brian Cólon and featuring various NM politicians, include Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and US Sen. Tom Udall (among many). That will also stream on Facebook or you can register to participate via Zoom.
Letter to Washington
Politico Magazine takes a good long look at Valencia County this week in its "Letter to Washington" series, describing it as a key bellwether location in the nation's political identity. "You know what they say," the piece begins, sardonically: "'As Valencia County goes, so goes the nation.'" Turns out, of any county in the US, Valencia County has the longest streak of picking presidents, stretching back to 1952. If this news surprises New Mexico readers, it apparently surprised Valencia County residents when Politico went there to chat with voters. Take retired military man Dale Thule, quoted as saying: "Wait a second. Is that true? Wow. I'd never have guessed that that's something we're known for." Only one person interviewed knew Valencia's unique standing: County Clerk Peggy Carabajal. Does that mean we should all keep an eye on Valencia County election night? Hard to say. Politico Chief political correspondent Tim Alberta came away with the belief that Valencia County's streak may come to an end this year: "Valencia County, the most exceptional voting jurisdiction in America, a place that has resisted political tribalism for so long, is becoming like the rest of the country—predictable, polarized and loyally partisan."
Crank it up
Not only is it almost Thanksgiving, it's almost Cranksgiving too. The annual holiday bicycle food drive will take place Nov. 14, but has made some pandemic adjustments this year after almost canceling. "The Food Depot does not have the ability to muster volunteers to do their usual food donation sorting activity, and that almost stopped us in our tracks this year because what's a food drive without food?" Bill Lane, an employee at Bicycle Technologies International and one of the event's chief organizers, tells SFR. Instead, Lane and co-organizers worked with the Albertsons grocery store to sell turkeys at a cost break to Cranksgiving participants, who will will register online and pre-order a turkey for $20, pick them up and pedal them to a waiting refrigerated truck provided by The Food Depot.
No turbulence today, at least not weather-wise: The skies will be mostly sunny, with a high near 64 degrees and west wind approximately 10 mph.