COVID-19 by the numbers
Bernalillo and Doña Ana counties led with a total of 601 and 352 new cases, respectively. Santa Fe County added 193 new cases over the weekend, including a record-breaking number of new cases on Sunday: 128. Cases also grew among New Mexico Corrections Department inmates at the Roswell Correctional Center: 66 on Saturday and 78 on Sunday.
The state also announced 30 more deaths—16 on Saturday and 14 on Sunday—including the 19th for Santa Fe County. The deaths included four males in their 30s and one in his 20s from Bernalillo, Eddy, Lea and Sandoval counties.
NM reacts to presidential results
New Mexico's elected officials reacted swiftly on Saturday to news that Democratic candidate Joe Biden had secured the required electoral votes and would be the country's next president. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham nodded to New Mexico's turnout (68% and 54% for Biden), saying in a statement: "The energy and enthusiasm of the people of our great state was on full display throughout this election season. It has been a powerful affirmation of what we can achieve, all together. With President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris, we will bridge our divides." Outgoing Democratic US Sen. Tom Udall congratulated both via Twitter on running "one heck of a race," and said, "Now we get to work healing the country, beating #COVID19, rebuilding the economy, & tackling the crises gripping our nation—together, as Americans." Udall's successor, Ben Ray Luján said: "This election, Americans voted for hope and decency over fear. We voted for a president and vice president who will wake up every morning thinking of working families, not themselves."
State Republicans, meanwhile, began soliciting donations to help with possible legal challenges by Donald Trump. "The President has great cause for concern," Republican Party of New Mexico Chairman Steve Pearce said in a statement. "And we must carefully examine the vote. Republicans will continue to fight this election in the courts and the Republican Party of New Mexico will help the national party in any way possible." A few hundred Trump supporters gathered at the Roundhouse Saturday to protest.
Leg ponders relocating
With New Mexico's COVID-19 cases surging, New Mexico lawmakers on the Legislative Council debated on Friday moving committee sessions for the January session from the Roundhouse to the Santa Fe Community Convention Center, as well as other safety measures. Speaker of the House Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, floated the idea of closing off the Roundhouse to the public for floor debates and votes, but allowing participation at the meetings held in the Convention Center. "It allows us to have committee meetings with high ceilings, an excellent ventilation system," Egolf said. Other lawmakers expressed various concerns with the plan over access, safety and legality, with Rep. Debbie Armstrong, D-Albuquerque, proposing the session be postponed until later in 2021.
SFPD charges third person in obelisk destruction
ICYMI, Santa Fe Police on Friday charged a third person in the Oct. 12 destruction of the Plaza obelisk. Dawn Furlong, 46, a local tattoo artist known more commonly with the last name Purnell, is charged with two felonies and three misdemeanors: criminal damage to property (over $1000); conspiracy; unlawful assembly; criminal trespass and unauthorized graffiti ($1000 or less). The latest charges followed SFPD Chief Andrew Padilla's assertion during the city's Public Safety Committee Thursday meeting that more charges would be coming in the case of the destroyed obelisk. Dozens of protesters participated in pulling down the monument on Oct. 12, and police have said they will use video surveillance and body camera footage, as well as tips from the community, to track down those who played active roles.
The vote counts from the Nov. 3 election reified the polarization in the US. But some of the issues that divide the country were not always so partisan. For example, it was a Republican president—Richard Nixon—who signed key environmental legislation in the 1970s and created the Environmental Protection Agency. In the most recent edition of the Outside Magazine podcast, "How a Fight Over Trees Transformed American Politics," host Michael Roberts talks to journalist Aaron Scott of Oregon Public Broadcasting about how 1990s fights over timber in the Northwest "escalated into a national debate" and "created new battle lines that would define decades of conflicts over everything from fracking to climate change."
The power of the Native vote
Gailene and Ganine Morgan, ages 19 and 20, were first time voters on Nov. 3, but part of a multigenerational family who all cast ballots together last Tuesday at the Tesuque Pueblo polling location. The seven women included the Morgan sisters' great grandmother, Marie Fquinlivan, 90, who says she's voted more times than she can remember, and was already a young woman when Native Americans won the right to vote in New Mexico in 1948. The entire family witnessed US Rep. Deb Haaland, D-NM, become one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress in 2018. While Native voters faced access issues in this year's election, a record-breaking six Native American congressional candidates were elected to serve in the US House of Representatives, while Native candidates also won dozens of races in state and local elections across the country.
Election workers front and center
Election officials dominated the news up until the Democratic President-Elect Joe Biden secured the electoral votes needed in Pennsylvania on Saturday morning. That put "otherwise obscure secretaries of state" in the spotlight, the New York Times writes, including New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, who tells the Times the false "Sharpie" rumor (that using a Sharpie could invalidate a ballot) reached her office, with people calling in with concerns their votes wouldn't be counted. Toulouse Oliver, also the president of the National Association of Secretaries of State, tells the Times election workers faced more hostility this year than usual amid the backdrop of Donald Trump's election fraud allegations, and she worries some won't return for future election work, given the national videos of people crowding ballot centers. "Who wouldn't be terrified under these conditions, under a mob of people?" she said.
Little of this, little of that
According to the forecast, today includes a 50% chance of precipitation in the form of scattered snow showers before 11am, followed by scattered rain showers. When it's not sort of snowing or kind of raining, it will be partly sunny, with a high near 42 degrees, plus breezy, with a south wind 15 to 20 mph becoming west 20 to 25 mph in the afternoon. When it's not breezy, the winds could gust as high as 35 mph. We may see some more snow tonight (20% chance) before 11 pm.