COVID-19 by the numbers
New Mexico hit another record for daily new cases yesterday: 2,897. Bernalillo County accounted for 993 new cases, followed by Doña Ana County with 438. Santa Fe County had 197 new cases, another record high for the second day in a row. There have now been a total of 3,542 cases in Santa Fe County, 56% of which are in the southside 87507 ZIP code. That ZIP code had the third highest number of new cases in the state yesterday: 107.
The state also announced 26 additional deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities to 1,290. As of yesterday, 776 people were hospitalized with COVID-19. The state on Monday changed its method of reporting hospitalizations to rely on daily data from hospitals statewide versus case investigators and contact-tracing reports.
NM clamps down on big-box stores, closes more businesses
As of today, big-box retailers operating in New Mexico that don't generate more than one-third of their revenues from food and drink products (such as Hobby Lobby and Ross Dress for Less) can't offer in-person services. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's office released an amended public health order yesterday clarifying the restriction, noting the intent to "ensure only the most essential businesses are permitting in-person services during this extreme public health emergency." The current public health order, which runs through Nov. 30, permits only businesses designated as essential to offer in-person services, and even those must do so at 25% capacity or no more than 75 customers at a time, whichever is smaller. The state environment department yesterday also reported 11 additional businesses had been temporarily closed after having more than four rapid responses for COVID-19 cases among employees. Those included three additional Santa Fe businesses: the Walmart Supercenter, Smith's Food and Drug Center on Cerrillos Road and Ojo Santa Fe Spa Resort. Santa Fe County ranked third in the state for rapid responses to businesses and other establishments for COVID-19 cases among employees for the week ending Nov. 15, with 10% of the 2,249 rapid responses statewide that week.
Council approves $2 mil hotel purchase
Santa Fe city councilors voted last night to allocate $2 million CARES Act funding to help purchase the Santa Fe Suites hotel to address housing insecurity issues. The hotel's 122 units will be used to help people struggling to pay rent due to reduced income during the pandemic; low-income residents who had trouble securing housing prior to the pandemic; and people transitioning out of homelessness. "This is a major first step for us to take to end housing instability in Santa Fe," Santa Fe Homes Program Director Alexandra Ladd said during the meeting, while emphasizing that Santa Fe Suites will offer long-term housing and is "not another homeless shelter." Rents will range from $500 to $840 a month. The city will be purchasing the property with co-developer Community Solutions Group.
Affordable housing for artists one step closer
Meanwhile, the New Mexico Inter-Faith Housing's long-awaited Siler Yard affordable housing project will begin its application next month, according to Executive Director Daniel Werwath. The nonprofit hosted an informational webinar yesterday afternoon about the process and plans a second info session Dec. 9. Besides being affordable, the project is specifically designed for artists or people with an established creative practice. It will include live-work spaces and community spaces, as well as shared access to art-making tools and resources. "We're trying to design a process that treats artists as a very broad concept because what we really want is to make sure that those live-work units go to people who need live-work units," Werwath says. "Many of the people I would consider artists don't necessarily consider themselves artists, and we're really trying to overcome that."
SFR kicks off the fourth season of the Reported podcast, hosted by staff writer Katherine Lewin, with a discussion of the Soldiers Monument, also known as the obelisk on the Plaza, a 150-year-old memorial activists toppled on Indigenous Peoples Day (Oct. 12). This week's cover story, "After the Obelisk" examines what has happened since that event; the police response on that day and in the weeks after; along with a look at how St. Augustine, Florida resolved its issues with a similarly contested statue.
See ya, Silverman
For those of us who have known Center for Contemporary Arts Cinematheque Director Jason Silverman for much of the 30 years he's been in Santa Fe, news that he's leaving for New York elicited a slight gasp. Silverman's 16 years at CCA transformed that institution's film program in myriad ways, but the three-time Sundance Documentary Fellow also has been creating cinema along the way, including the films Shameless, Olympia and SEMBENE!, which premiered in competition at the 2015 Sundance Film and the Cannes Festival du Film. SFR talks with Silverman this week about his past at CCA, his future endeavors and the role of artists during and after the pandemic: "There are a lot of storytellers in every medium who are trying to reach us with empowering and enlightening stories in their various forms," Silverman says. "I hope those stories connect with people and I hope the cultural institutions stay strong so they can tell those stories."
Mansion Global, a publication that covers all things high-end real estate, recently provided recommendations of artists to consider when decorating your…mansion (maybe), and included Santa Fe artist Ramona Sakiestewa (Hopi), who, Mansion Global writes, "has impressed the art world by evolving and adapting ancient Pueblo techniques, and is renowned for her tapestries, works on paper, public art and architectural installations." Amy Weber, director of communications for TAI Modern gallery in Santa Fe, which has worked with Sakiestewa many times, notes that "the color and modern feel of much of her work is a stunning addition to any collection." The story is only the latest of numerous acknowledgements of Sakiestewa's career and work. In 2006, she was awarded the New Mexico Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts and was inducted into the New Mexico Women's Hall of Fame.