COVID-19 by the numbers
New Mexico health officials yesterday reported a new record-high for daily cases: 1,753, bringing the total so far to 60,776. Bernalillo County had 611 new cases, followed by Doña Ana County with 312. Santa Fe County had the third highest number of cases: 132, also a record for daily cases here.
The state also announced 18 additional deaths, including a man in his 70s from Santa Fe County. There have now been 1,176 fatalities. As of yesterday, 471 people were hospitalized with COVID-19.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and other state officials will provide an update on COVID-19 today at 1 pm, which will stream live on the governor's Facebook page and various television stations' websites.
Tales of COVID-19
New Mexico poet and counselor Tommy Archuleta was receiving daily screenings and biweekly COVID-19 tests through his work with the state Corrections Department. He had been home for several days, sick, when he learned he had tested positive. Though briefly hospitalized, Archuleta is now home and recovering, but preparing to take care of his 87-year-old father, who also contracted COVID-19. Although he doesn't know what his father's recovery will entail, he tells SFR the situation requires resilience and acceptance. "Acceptance doesn't mean agreement," he says. "You just kind of find yourself finding stores of strength and resilience to continue on. That's what life is about: accepting the change, not necessarily agreeing with it." COVID-19 survivor and Las Cruces resident Arthur Sanchez had a much more severe strain, ultimately spending 147 days in the hospital and undergoing a complex double-lung transplant. "Without any of the medical professionals that took care of me, I would not be here today," he said during a news conference yesterday. "I'm a fighter and I'm a strong believer in faith. I think I'm a walking miracle."
Affordable housing receives financial boost
Anchorum St. Vincent, the 50% owner of Christus St. Vincent, and Enterprise Bank & Trust announced yesterday they are committing $10 million toward a new fund to address affordable housing issues in Santa Fe, and will be working with Homewise. The organizations called upon other businesses and institutions to also contribute to the fund. "We're looking to triple or quadruple that money by finding some like-minded organizations," Anchorum CEO Peter Bastone said. Homewise CEO Mike Loftin, whose organization both builds and finances affordable homes, says the money can be used for Homewise to build and finance more homes, among other initiatives. "This fund will increase affordable housing options and the availability of commercial, mixed-use and community spaces to support the communities we serve," Loftin said. "It will also help community members with down payment assistance, home maintenance and improve communitywide financial literacy."
Gov’s chief of staff steps down
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's chief of staff, John Bingaman, will be stepping down and returning to the private sector, according to a news release yesterday from the governor's office. Matthew L. Garcia, who has been serving as the governor's general counsel, will replace Bingaman (son of former US Sen. Jeff Bingaman). Garcia has already been serving as the acting chief of staff during the final weeks of the presidential election, as Bingaman took a leave of absence "to advise the transition team of President-elect Joe Biden on the governor's behalf." The governor serves as co-chair on Biden's transition team and is a rumored pick for his cabinet. Lawyer Holly Agajanian, who recently worked at Hinkle Shanor LLP, will now serve as the governor's general counsel.
New Mexico's journalism community suffered a piercing loss this week following the death of KUNM News Director Hannah Colton at the age of 29. Her colleague Marisa Demarco pays tribute to Colton, whom she describes as a journalist who loved reporting in the field as much as she treasured guiding journalists in the newsroom. She was "passionate about equity and racial justice," Demarco writes. "She well-understood the urgency of this moment, and she gave it her whole heart, working around the clock to cover equity and education, the dangers of the virus for people who are incarcerated, protests and the pandemic's impacts on people without shelter." A talented musician who had struggled with depression, Colton was beloved in the newsroom, Demarco notes, and her "absence will be felt keenly by her colleagues here, and her community." You can both listen and read Demarco's beautiful tribute, and also find resources to the state's crisis and non-crisis phone lines here.
Monte Skarsgard of Albuquerque's Skarsgard Farms, tells SFR his Santa Fe customer base has grown by 500% during the COVID-19 pandemic, and he's been able to grow a 13-person operation to one with 42 employees. Skarsgard rose to meet the pandemic head on through a reliable and affordable Community Supported Agriculture/grocery delivery service with offerings as vast as they are enticing. This isn't an overnight success story: The Albuquerque native over the course of 20 years has grown his business into one of the more prominent and convenient CSAs in the state. Skarsgard delivers to Santa Fe customers Tuesdays and Fridays. Shoppers can choose from standard CSA offerings such as fresh organic veggies and fruits, along with newer options like coffee, gluten-free pizza dough, soap, masks, dairy items, baked treats, fresh juice and, the newest jewel in the Skarsgard crown, cuts of meat from right here in New Mexico.
Now is the time
ICYMI, Democrat Teresa Leger Fernandez, who is heading to Congress to represent New Mexico's 3rd Congressional District, appeared on Good Morning America (hour three) this week, with the show paying tribute to the state's Nov. 3 election of three women of color to Congress. Among other questions, co-host TJ Holmes asked Leger Fernandez to discuss her campaign slogan "Ahora es cuando!" (roughly: "now is the time"). The slogan, Leger Fernandez said, "was based on the idea that we need to protect what we love," such as the planet, health care and "this beautiful place we call home…We need to act to protect what we love." Leger Fernandez also discussed her plans to hold the government accountable to Native American communities in her district who have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and chronically underserved by the government.
Wind it up
Temperatures will rise into the mid-50s, according to today's forecast, which calls for a mostly sunny day with a high near 55 degrees and east wind 5 to 10 mph becoming west in the afternoon. Saturday could reach 57 degrees, but winds will pick up to 20 to 30 mph in the afternoon and possibly gust at 40 mph. Less windy Sunday with a high near 56 degrees.
Thanks for reading! The Word has been reading like mad this year and so, apparently, has everyone else.