COVID-19 by the numbers
New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 1,418 new COVID-19 cases—another grim record for daily cases—bringing the statewide total so far to 56,289. Of those cases, the health department has designated 23,457 as recovered.
Bernalillo County accounted for 464 of the new cases; Doña Ana County had 201. Sandoval County had third highest number of new cases: 93, followed closely by Santa Fe County with 92.
The state also announced 12 additional deaths from six counties, including the 20th from Santa Fe County: a man in his 60s who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions. There have now been 1,130 fatalities. As of yesterday, 423 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, with 82% of general beds and 66% of ICU beds occupied at New Mexico hospitals, according to a state news release.
Yesterday, First Judicial District Attorney Marco Serna announced one of the employees in his office had tested positive for COVID-19, leading to 14-day closures for both the Santa Fe and Rio Arriba county offices. According to a news release, Serna himself was potentially exposed while in the office, has taken a COVID-19 test and will self-quarantine for 14 days away from his partner, son and step-daughter.
Will they stay or will they go?
While many aspects of the 2020 presidential election broke norms, post-election speculation about which—if any—New Mexico politicians may end up tapped to work for the next administration have begun. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham—once a rumored vice-presidential contender for President-Elect Joe Biden's ticket—now appears to be a front-runner for his Health and Human Services cabinet secretary, according to the Washington Post, Politico and many others (although Lujan Grisham's spokeswoman Nora Meyers Sackett tells the Albuquerque Journal the governor is "100% committed" to her job). US Sen. Tom Udall (who is finishing up his term after not seeking re-election), US Sen. Martin Heinrich and Rep. Deb Haaland also have been mentioned as possible picks for Interior Secretary and it sounds as though none of them have ruled out the possibility.
City considers more short-term rental restrictions
As the Santa Fe City Council prepares to consider further restricting short-term rentals, the Santa Fe Short Term Rental Alliance and Expedia Group have released a new report demonstrating the economic benefit of short-term rentals. That report, prepared by accounting firm Moss Adams, says the rentals had a total economic impact of $228 million in 2019, compared with $152.3 million in 2018. The city's Public Works and Utilities Committee held a hearing last night on proposed restrictions (right around hour two), which include limiting the number of permits for short-term rentals to one per person, and voted to send the proposal to the City Council (slated to hear it Dec. 9). A news release on behalf of Expedia and the Short Term Rental Alliance says this proposal threatens property owners' ability "to continue operating their businesses, preventing the industry from supporting Santa Fe's economy in the wake of COVID-19." In a statement, Frances Maier, president of the Santa Fe Short Term Rental Alliance's Leadership Committee, noted that Santa Fe is "still reeling" from the economic impact of COVID-19. "Short-term rentals provide widespread economic benefits that we cannot afford to overlook," she said. "I hope city officials will recognize this and find a responsible path forward."
SFPD charges two more in obelisk case
Santa Fe Police yesterday announced charges against two more people in the Oct. 12 destruction of the Plaza obelisk, bringing the total number of people facing charges in the case to seven. Melissa Rose, 44, and Lauren Straily, 28, both faces charges of criminal damage to property (over $1,000); conspiracy; unlawful assembly; criminal trespass; resisting, evading or obstructing an officer; and unauthorized graffiti (with over $1,000 worth of damage). Santa Fe Deputy Police Chief Ben Valdez announced in a statement on social media and to the press that the department had cooperated with the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office, New Mexico State Police and the District Attorney's Office to file the charges—and indicated more may be coming.
Is it too soon to revisit Election Week? In the most recent episode of No More Normal, host Khalil Ekulona takes listeners back through his Election Week diary, and talks to some folks about what's happening and what's left to do. Guests include: SFR journalists Katherine Lewin and Leah Cantor; Clifton White and Selinda Guerrero, activists pushing back against an unjust criminal legal system and fighting for prisoners' rights; New Mexico GOP Party Chairman Steve Pearce; NM Democratic Party Chairwoman Marg Elliston; KUNM News Director Hannah Colton and Host / Reporter Nash Jones; and Jeff "Jazztone" Alberson. No More Normal is a collaboration between SFR, KUNM and New Mexico PBS.
If you were inclined to read one more story about the late Forrest Fenn's hidden treasure, New York Magazine's "The Great 21st Century Hunt" would be a good choice. Benjamin Wallace weaves together the threads of Fenn's decision to bury the treasure, the online treasure community that grew out of that decision and computer scientist Justin Posey's obsessive quest to locate the riches. When he was a child, Posey wanted to be Indiana Jones—that dream had never fully evaporated. "I figured, 'How many times in a person's lifetime are you going to be in a position to hunt for something you're reasonably sure is actually there,'" he says, "and the person who hid it is still alive?" The story documents Posey's methodical approach to the mystery and pulls together all the disparate pieces of a story so wild you couldn't make it up.
Carrying Ken Price
American sculptor Ken Price, who lived near Taos on and off starting in the 1970s and died there in 2012, was famous both for his sculptures and for his influence in the field of ceramics. But it was Price's lesser-known drawings that inspired Jonathan Anderson, designer of the LVMH-owned Spanish fashion label Loewe, to introduce a capsule collection of clothing and accessories based on Price's work. The Matthew Marks gallery, which represents Price's estate, signed off on the project, citing Anderson's appreciation for Price's work and the high quality of the products. Price's widow, Happy Price, who still lives in New Mexico, says she sees parallels between her husband's early works and the leather and suede bags festooned with his drawings. "I think Kenny would have loved this project and been thrilled by it—and by how the work was produced and made," she says. "So intricate and full of care."
Thanks for reading! While trying to brainstorm ways to have some fun, The Word read this Vox article about the nature of fun, which she found interesting—though not necessarily fun—to read.