COVID-19 by the numbers
New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 3,675 new COVID-19 cases—yet another daily record for new cases—bringing the statewide total so far to 74,116.
Bernalillo County had 1,122 new cases, followed by Doña Ana County with 502 and Sandoval County with 270. Santa Fe County had 266 new cases, another record high. Yesterday, again, the city's southside 87507 ZIP code had the third highest number of new cases in the state: 114.
There were also 12 additional deaths and have now been 1,302 fatalities. As of yesterday, 774 people were hospitalized with COVID-19.
Gov calls special session
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham yesterday announced she will call a special legislative session on Nov. 24 to allocate $300 million in CARES Act funding for New Mexicans and businesses in the midst of surging COVID-19 cases and a restrictive public health law. "We want to get this relief out to New Mexicans," the governor said. "They need unemployment, they need housing assistance and businesses need grants. That gives us a day…so the Monday we get back, we're pushing money out the door." The governor announced the special session during her weekly COVID update, which included repeated calls for residents to forego Thanksgiving next week. "A Zoom Thanksgiving is better than an ICU Christmas," Human Services Secretary David Scrase said, after sharing data on the increasing strain mounting cases have placed on the state's hospitals and healthcare workers. The governor also confirmed the Gibson Medical Center in Albuquerque will open today as an alternative care site for recovering, COVID-positive adults who don't need acute care, as well as those who have been exposed or otherwise need a place to isolate or quarantine.
Dems want Haaland in cabinet
POLITICO reported yesterday that more than 50 Democrats in the US House signed a letter sent to the Biden transition team this week urging the president-elect to appoint US Rep. Deb Haaland as the country's next Interior secretary. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-AZ, led the letter, and also wrote one individually endorsing Haaland this week that was directed to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. "It is well past time that an Indigenous person brings history full circle at the Department of Interior," he wrote in that letter. A coalition of Indigenous environmental organizations, marshaled by the Indigenous Environmental Network, also wrote a letter supporting Haaland, noting: "There is a unique opportunity at this time to have a highly competent person take the reins at the Department of Interior that understands all of its dynamics and does not have to be educated on the depth of their meaning." US Sen. Tom Udall also is reportedly a contender for that position.
Trump drags NM into election conspiracy
Donald Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani yesterday floated a national election-fraud conspiracy theory in which, he said, a "pattern repeats itself in a number of states, almost exactly the same pattern…which suggests that there was a plan." The allegations follow ongoing and thus far fruitless litigation by the Trump administration, alleging unfounded election fraud. Giuliani also claimed during his news conference in Washington, DC, that "We have very, very significant amount of fraud allegations in the state of New Mexico." There have been no prior allegations of voter fraud in New Mexico during the Nov. 3 general election and, in fact, Republicans flipped the state's 2nd Congressional District seat. Nonetheless, the state Republican Party amplified the allegation on social media and announced it is working with the Trump administration to "investigate election irregularities in our state."
State Supreme Court upholds double-murder convictions
New Mexico's Supreme Court yesterday announced a unanimous opinion upholding Ricardo Martinez's convictions of two counts of first-degree murder. He was sentenced to two consecutive terms of life in prison for the 2014 fatal shooting of 18-year-old Venancio Cisneros and a 13-year-old female described in the case as Cisneros' girlfriend. The opinion, by Chief Justice Michael E. Vigil, also adopts a new standard for eyewitness identification, a so-called "per se exclusionary rule," which a news release says "will preclude the admission of eyewitness identifications produced by 'unnecessarily suggestive' police procedures." During appeal, Martinez argued the District Court should have excluded testimony from a witness who said he had seen Martinez walking away from Cisneros' car at the crime scene. The eyewitness had identified Martinez from an array of six photographs shown to him during the sheriff's office investigation. Initially, the witness had told investigators he had poor eyesight but would be able to recognize the man he had seen if he was shown a photo. No other state has a comprehensive evidentiary standard for eyewitness identifications that is identical to New Mexico's rule.
Why should you care about PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, aka man-made chemicals)? Lots of reasons. As New Mexico PBS writes: "As the military and [the state of New Mexico] have sued each other over the toxic threat, this truly has become a war over groundwater—who's responsible for it, who pays for cleaning it up, and who suffers the consequences of yet another environmental disaster that has become the unwanted legacy of the federal government's presence in New Mexico." Environmental reporter Laura Paskus breaks down the issue in the first of a series of videos, part of a larger reporting project that received funding through Frontline's Local Journalism Initiative.
Joy Harjo receives third term as US Poet Laureate
Yesterday, the Library of Congress announced US Poet Laureate Joy Harjo (Muscogee Creek Nation), the first Native American to serve in the position, will serve a third term. This makes Harjo only the second laureate to receive this extension since terms for the position were established in 1943. Harjo's third term begins September 2021; a Library of Congress news announcement says the extension will allow Harjo time to complete projects impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. These include "Living Nations, Living Words," which launched yesterday, and features an interactive ArcGIS Story Map of 47 contemporary Native American poets across the country. The map also connects to an online audio collection. "This has been a challenging year for the country, for our earth," said Harjo, who was born in Oklahoma but attended the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe and lived in Albuquerque for much of her life. "Poetry has provided doorways for joy, grief and understanding in the midst of turmoil and pandemic. I welcome the opportunity of a third term to activate my project and visit communities to share Native poetry. The story of America begins with Native presence, thoughts and words. Poetry is made of word threads that weave and connect us."
Out in the street
The Santa Fe Metropolitan Planning Organization is hosting an urban design photo contest for local teens, ages 13-18. The competition calls for photos taken in 2020 that "capture and describe transportation in Santa Fe as seen and experienced by the young, old, merchants, disabled, tourists and anyone else." According to the MPO announcement: "This is an especially unique time where COVID-19 restrictions may have altered people's means of traveling in Santa Fe. Creative images that tell a story or have a message are desired. We invite youth to help tell that story with their photography." As for the prizes: $500 for first place; $350 for second; $250 for third; and $100 for fourth. Deadline to enter: Nov. 30, with more details here.
Unpacking the American dream
A virtual gallery opening tonight fits the bill as a stay-at-home activity with culture-enhancing properties. Artist Chaz John's new show, "Manifest Destiny's Child," premieres at 5 pm this evening at Ellsworth Gallery, in which the artist confronts ideas of the American frontier with paintings, sculptural pieces and a video component. "We are, in the present moment, the product of this sort of ideology and greater myth of American life," John (Winnebago, Mississippi Band Choctaw and European) tells SFR. "It's an approach to examining the outlook of the greater human or collective experience—I think I was kind of examining what it's like to be both Indigenous and part of a colonial heritage. It seems, especially with the conflicts and everything happening right now, like everything is unrecognizable and recognizable at the same time. That's very similar, I think, to what I think dreaming is."
Come rain and/or shine
If you've been enjoying our springlike temperatures this week, sorry: The fine weather, like all good things, must surely end—such is the nature of autumn, nay, of life. Anyhoo, today will feature increasing clouds, with a high near 62 degrees and east wind 5 to 10 mph becoming south in the afternoon. On Saturday, a partly sunny sky with a high near 58 degrees. A 20% chance of showers Saturday night, increasing to 30% on Sunday with high temps right around 50 degrees. Look for temperatures to stay in the 50s right on through the start of the week with intermittent chances for precipitation.
Thanks for reading! The Word makes a to-do list each night, quotidian by most standards, but particularly when compared to Leonardo Da Vinci's to-do lists.