COVID-19 by the numbers
New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 1,266 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total so far to 57,547.
Bernalillo County had 307 new cases, followed by Doña Ana County with 222. Sandoval County had 100 new cases, followed by Santa Fe County with 90. That brings the total number of cases here to 2,608 so far, with 916 designated as recovered by the health department.
The state also announced 14 additional deaths, half of which were from Doña Ana County. There have now been 1,144 fatalities. As of yesterday, 425 people were hospitalized with COVID-19.
SFPS returns to hybrid-only classes
Santa Fe Public Schools yesterday announced a return to remote-only learning on Nov. 20, less than a month after kicking off its hybrid plan. Santa Fe County's cases have been on the rise, with a record high of 128 last Sunday. According to the state's COVID-19 dashboard, Santa Fe County currently has 22.5 cases per 100,000 population, when the threshold for holding some in-person learning was set by the state at fewer than 8 per 100,000. Santa Fe's test positivity rate also has risen above 5% and currently is at 6.30%. "I am announcing today a hiatus of our volunteer hybrid program due to the rampant rise in COVID-19 cases in Santa Fe County and New Mexico and SFPS' philosophy to always prioritize the safety and well being of our students and staff," Superintendent Veronica García said in a statement, noting the advance notice was to allow parents to make arrangements for their children to resume school at home, but encouraged them to keep them home next week if possible.
Rapid responses rise, meat producer sues NM
The state environment department reported 1,948 rapid responses for COVID-19 across New Mexico for the week ending Nov. 8, compared with 1,460 the week prior. Of those rapid responses, 305 of them—or approximately 21%—were to food-related industries. And of those, nearly 60% were at restaurants. Santa Fe County had the third highest number of such responses—144—behind Bernalillo and Doña Ana counties. As of today, 177 establishments appear on the environment department's watchlist for having had two or more rapid responses within the last 14 days, including 14 in Santa Fe County. The state has now issued closure notices to eight establishments with four or more rapid responses within 14 days. One of them, the Illinois-based Stampede Meat, is now suing the state following Nov. 3 orders to shut its Sunland Park plant after six rapid responses there. The company's suit contends the closure order violates President Donald Trump's April 28 executive order.
Pots of gold
New Mexico lawmakers on the Legislature's interim Economic and Rural Development Committee tackled two issues of economic importance yesterday: booze and pot. More specifically, legislators discussed potential reform to the state's liquor license laws, long considered a barrier to growing businesses given their limited availability and high price. Rep. Moe Maestas, D-Albuquerque, said he plans to introduce legislation in next year's session to address the issue. Expect to see a recreational marijuana bill back next year as well. State Rep. Javier Martinez, D-Albuquerque, says he plans to reintroduce a bill similar to the one passed by the House in this year's session. The bill never received a Senate vote, but several conservative state senators lost their seats to more progressive counterparts in the June primary. Moreover, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has repeatedly voiced her support for recreational marijuana as a potential economic boon for the state.
Ready for some mid-week theater? Teatro Paraguas has you covered with tonight's 7 pm performance of Love in the DMZ by Julia Cameron (author of the wildly popular The Artist's Way). An SFR pick of the week, the play depicts a commander in Vietnam (Nick Kapustinsky) and his wife home in the US (Ali Talman), as they exchange letters during the war. Directed by Duchess Dale, the play, as described by the theater company, "chronicles the slow unravelling of the relationship strained by the distance, uncertainty, anguish, and danger of the situation, and the grim attempts to ward off despair and keep their fragile lifeline intact through love." You can register to watch via Zoom (for free, but with a $10 suggested donation) here.
City hosts online Veterans Day tribute
In keeping with COVID-19 safety practices, in lieu of a parade, the City of Santa will broadcast a Veterans Day tribute video today at 11:11 am on its Facebook page. All virtual administrative offices, city libraries, the Municipal Court and recreation centers will be closed today. Trash and recycling collection services will operate on a regular schedule (but the recycling drop-off center previously located in the parking lot on 1142 Siler Road has moved around the corner to 2950 Agua Fria). Bus and trails service will operate on a Saturday schedule. The Santa Fe Public Library will be closed for curbside pickup and drop box returns. All library locations will open return drop boxes tomorrow and curbside pickup will resume at noon on Thursday as well. Both Santa Fe County and State of New Mexico offices and services also will be closed today.
View from above
The Wall Street Journal takes a look at how governments and other entities hope to use satellite imagery analysis and artificial intelligence to help combat fire, bug infestations and other threats to forests. As expected, Santa Fe-based startup Descartes Labs is part of the mix in such initiatives. With growing stores of data so also grow false alerts.The story reports on Descartes' work with consumer-goods giant Unilever to cut down on false deforestation alerts, specifically related to palm-oil production in Indonesia and Malaysia. Descartes applied scientist Cooper Elsworth says the company is using machine learning to distinguish between legitimate threats to the forest versus natural fires and replanting.
Today will be sunny with a high near 48 degrees and north wind around 10 mph becoming west in the afternoon. Today will also (hopefully) be our last day in the 40s this week, with temps rising back into the low and then mid-50s.