COVID-19 by the numbers
New Mexico health officials yesterday reported several grim records in the state's current COVID-19 surge. There were 2,112 new COVID-19 cases, the highest daily case number so far. There have now been 67,559 total cases, 26,338 of which the health department has designated as recovered.
Bernalillo County led with 615 new cases, followed by Doña Ana County with 338 and Santa Fe County with 141, also a record high here.
The state also announced 28 deaths in one day—the highest number of daily deaths to date—as well as the youngest victim so far: a pre-teen male (between the ages of 10 and 19) from Bernalillo County. There have now been 1,264 fatalities.
As of yesterday, 754 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, reported under a new state system that relies on daily data from hospitals throughout the state versus reports from case investigators and contact tracers.
Pfizer chooses NM for vaccine trial
Pfizer, one of the pharmaceutical companies with a leading contender for a COVID-19 vaccine, announced this week it has chosen New Mexico as one of four states—along with Rhode Island, Texas and Tennessee—for a pilot immunization program. According to a news release, Pfizer chose these states because "of their differences in overall size, diversity of populations, and immunization infrastructure, as well as the states' need to reach individuals in varied urban and rural settings." None of the states, however, will receive the vaccine early or any other special treatment, the company said. (New Mexico's own draft vaccine plan, submitted to the federal government last month, includes detailed information on its planning process, as well as pending questions to the federal government regarding financial support, storage requirements and other key issues). "This pilot program and our collaboration with [US] and state officials will help us prepare for broader vaccine deployment in the near future, subject to authorization or approval, as we work to address this urgent public health need," Pfizer Bio Group President Angela Hwang said in a statement, adding that Pfizer hopes the pilot program will serve as a model for other states and international governments' vaccine distribution. Pfizer also announced yesterday its vaccine is 95% effective, and it plans to apply for emergency use authorization in the coming days.
New police task force meets
A new city task force formed to address ongoing and systemic concerns about policing and emergency services in Santa Fe held its first meeting last night, meeting virtually via Zoom. The new Community Health and Safety Task Force's nine citizen members discussed the types of information they hope to review in the coming months, as well as the impact they hope the task force can have in the future. "The real disturbing things that I've seen in doing this kind of work is…we've done a lot of Band-Aid approaches to police brutality," former Judge Michael Vigil said. "They really didn't change anything." Somos Un Pueblo Unido Executive Director Marcela Díaz said she hoped to see more data on local arrests, while behavioral therapist Naja Druva asked questions regarding the city's use of force policy and whether it has been violated. While the inaugural meeting included time for public input, only one person participated. City Councilors Renee Villarreal and Councilor Chris Rivera will chair the committee, but Villarreal said the city will be hiring a facilitator to help guide discussions.
Unsurprisingly, ski resorts in New Mexico are holding off on opening in light of the new health order restrictions that went into effect on Monday. Both Ski Santa Fe and Taos Ski Valley had intended to open on the traditional Thanksgiving date, but both have postponed. In a letter to patrons, Ski Santa Fe operators Ben and Benny Abruzzo write: "While we are disappointed that we will not be welcoming our skiers and snowboarders this November, we are hopeful that we will be sharing the slopes soon," and note that Ski Santa Fe is using "minimal staff" to prepare facilities, including making snow. The Abruzzos also ask skiers, hikers and others to avoid recreating in the permit area: "For the health and safety of our employees who are working, please respect their well-being and stay at home." Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort had intended to open Friday, but has also pushed back to a yet-to-be-determined date.
In its fifth episode, the New Mexican Office of African American Affairs' podcast, Re-Educated, delves into the issue of mental health and the Black community. Co-hosted with intelligence and humor by Albuquerque singer/songwriter and communication specialist Danni Golden and OAAA Social and Community Outreach Coordinator Devon Williams, the podcast's mission is to "educate the community on environmental, social, and physical inequities and challenges that the Black communities have to deal with, and what can be done to empower the Black community to help them navigate through the understanding of legislation and policy on a micro/ macro level." Previous episodes explored Black cultural centers in higher education; law enforcement; plight of the Black athlete; and the disparities of Black women in health care.
Nat Geo eyes NM
National Geographic offers suggestions for virtual and real-world travel (post-pandemic) in a recent story that examines "superlative destinations" where travelers will find "resilient communities, innovative conservation efforts, and thrilling opportunities for future explorations." New Mexico's Pueblo Nations fit all three bills. Nat Geo recommends visitors begin with Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque via its online culture guide and in-person when doing so is again safe. Michael Lucero (San Felipe Pueblo), IPCC's guest experience manager, says those resources will bolster visitors' understanding in advance of visiting individual Pueblos. "When you step foot on a Pueblo, you'll start connecting the dots," he says.
ISO of more meetings?
The City of Santa Fe is looking for residents interested in serving on its Planning Commission and Board of Adjustments Planning Commission. The first meets at 6 pm on the first and third Thursday of every month as needed and reviews and approves proposals for new development projects. The Board of Adjustments meets at 6 pm the first Tuesday of each month as needed and reviews and decides appeals of final actions of the Land Use director, as well as requests for special use permits and variances associated with single-family residential construction. For the latter, the city is seeking residents with professional experience in law, real estate, construction or design for the seven-member commission. The nine-member Planning Commission includes residents "who are qualified by training, experience, and ability to exercise sound and practical judgment on civic, social, economic and governmental affairs," according to a news release. To apply, send a resume and letter of interest to: City Clerk Yolanda Vigil at email@example.com by 5 pm, Nov. 20.
T-shirt weather returns
Hate the cold? You're in luck. Today will be sunny with a high near 67 degrees and northeast wind 5 to 15 mph becoming west in the afternoon.
Thanks for reading! The Word can never turn down a new Jane Austen adaptation, which keeps her busy.