COVID-19 by the numbers
New Mexico health officials reported 2,213 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend: 1,180 on Saturday and 1,033 on Sunday, with incomplete reporting yesterday "due to a disruption in the reporting system," according to a state news release. The state has had 64,201 cases so far.
Bernalillo County had 587 new cases over the weekend—the most statewide—followed by Doña Ana County with 327. Santa Fe County had 148 new cases over the weekend: 56 on Saturday and 92 on Sunday.
COVID-19 cases continue to grow at prisons across the state, with 61 new cases among New Mexico Corrections Department inmates.
The state also announced 17 additional fatalities—10 on Saturday and seven on Sunday, including one hospitalized man in his 80s from Santa Fe County—bringing the total number of deaths to 1,215. As of yesterday, a record-high 506 people were hospitalized with COVID-19.
Stay-at-home orders, closures start today
A new public health order issued by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday takes effect today, reinstating the stricter measures taken last spring at the COVID-19 pandemic's outset. In short, New Mexicans are ordered to stay at home barring essential outings, such as grocery store shopping and medical care. The new order closes non-essential businesses and requires essential businesses to operate at either 25% capacity or no more than 75 customers at a time. Restaurants must cease on-site dining, but can remain open for carry-out and delivery. Cowgirl owner Patrick Lambert, however, announced he would be closing for the next three months instead. Indeed, numerous other restaurants and businesses say weathering this shutdown will be different than the first, given the lack of federal financial support, such as the Paycheck Protection Program or additional stimulus checks.
The health order remains in effect through Nov. 30, and businesses face a civil administrative penalty of up to $5,000 a day for violations. After two weeks, a three-tiered system evaluating counties' progress at mitigating spread will inform re-openings on a county-by-county basis. As such, the order runs through the Thanksgiving holiday, which the governor said she would forgo, and asked others to do so as well. "Far too many families in America—and I hope that's not going to be true in New Mexico—are going to choose to come together, and they are going to end up being together again to attend a funeral for one of those family members because they had Thanksgiving together," she said. "It's not worth the risk."
MVD closes, jury trials paused
Following the new health order, the state's Motor Vehicle Division field offices will be closed starting today through Nov. 30, and the office says appointments during that period will be rescheduled. The state Supreme Court on Friday issued an order pausing all criminal and civil jury trials across New Mexico through the end of the year, although the governor's health order does not require them to do so. "Pausing jury trials will protect the public while allowing critical court functions to continue," Chief Justice Michael E. Vigil said in a statement. "This additional precaution will reduce the number of people who need to come to a courthouse at a time when the state has tightened public health order restrictions on New Mexicans because of a spike in COVID-19." Appellate, district, metropolitan and magistrate courts will remain open while operating with COVID-safe procedures.
Santa Fe city councilors continue to grapple with the composition of a proposed special committee that would contend with Santa Fe's cultures, histories, art, reconciliation and truth (CHART). The committee—proposed by Mayor Alan Webber and yet to be formed—comes in response to the Oct. 12 destruction of the obelisk on the Plaza. In the proposal's initial form, the mayor would make appointments to the 21-person committee; now, he and others are proposing amendments to its makeup and nominating process. These include: include hiring a paid mediator for the committee, rather than appointing one; having at least eight members appointed by city councilors; and appointing someone from the mayor's Youth Advisory Board. City Councilor Mike Garcia is working on a proposal to have all its members appointed independently. "We have pretty much lost all credibility with this process," Garcia said. "We need to ensure that our credibility is built back up by having an independent body select who are the participants in this body."
What is the ideal human-robot relationship? How can robots protect people from dangerous situations? How can you recognize the hidden robots all around you? Los Alamos National Laboratory mechanical engineer David Grow will probe these and other intriguing questions during a virtual talk, "The Robotics Toolbox," this evening from 5:30 to 7 pm, as part of the Science on Tap series, a collaboration between the Lab's Bradbury Science Museum and the Los Alamos Creative District. The series takes place virtually the third Monday evening of each month, and you can sign up for this one here.
Madrid makes the list in Thrillist's round-up of "the funkiest little towns you've never heard of," in a story headlined: "These Funky Art Towns Are Waiting to Pull You Into Their Psychedelic Orbits." While the magazine acknowledges that almost any town in New Mexico qualifies as an "art town," in Madrid, it writes, "the arts dominate every aspect of local life. Once name-checked as the 'New Mexico version of Marfa,' artists today are attracted by the town's cheap rents and unique old wooden row houses." The magazine recommends stopping by the Mine Shaft Tavern for "heavy pours and live music on weekends," or visiting the Madrid Old Coal Town Museum for a history lesson. While we agree "Madrid knows better than most how to keep it weird," we might also recommend/request holding off on a road trip for at least the next little while.
Bird on a wing
For the past 16 years, Santa Fe Raptor Center Executive Director Lori Paras and staff have rehabilitated thousands of raptors and other birds. A recent New Mexico Magazine profile on the center opens with Paras and New Mexico Wildlife Center founder Kathleen Ramsay entering a 100-foot-long flight cage to trim an eagle's beak and talons: "The eagle's talons can pierce a person's hand. Its feet can break a human arm. Its beak can take a finger or eyeball," Daniel Gibson writes in this illuminating and captivating (no pun intended) story—accompanied by fierce photos by Stefan Wachs—about the work done to save these birds: "The silhouettes of raptors gliding on thermals seem an essential element of New Mexico's brilliant skies. But via an onslaught of natural and human hazards, danger awaits these fierce fliers."
Just as the stay-at-home orders commencing today recall last spring, the weather this week will as well. On the bright side, we will be stuck at home, but can head outside for recreation and walking while thinking. To wit: Today should be sunny with a high near 61 degrees and north wind 5 to 15 mph. The rest of the week heads into the mid 60s and, as of now, Thursday and Friday don't have any wind at all in the forecast.
Thanks for reading! The Word often has trouble finding comfortable headphones, so perhaps it's time to "sound beam" music directly into her brain.