COVID-19 by the numbers
Over the weekend, health officials reported 4,821 new COVID-19 cases: 2,353 on Saturday and 2,468 on Sunday. Bernalillo County added 1,357 new cases over the weekend, followed by Doña Ana County with 511 and a resurgence of cases in the northwest region of McKinley County, which had the third highest number: 402.
Santa Fe County had 228 new cases over the weekend: 121 on Saturday and 107 on Sunday. On Friday, Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber signed an emergency proclamation closing all city playing courts, athletic fields, playground equipment and park infrastructure.
The state also announced 58 additional deaths—25 on Saturday and 33 on Sunday, the highest single day of fatalities thus far. Those deaths included a female teen from McKinley County and a man in his 100s from Sandoval County, with victims from every age group in between from 13 counties. There have now been 1,383 total deaths. As of yesterday, 845 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, a new high.
With cases continuing to surge, the health department over the weekend opened five new COVID-19 testing sites, which will run for approximately the next seven days (except for Thanksgiving) across the state. People must pre-register for a test at www.doineedacovid19test.com. The sites include a new location at the Santa Fe County Fairgrounds, 3229 Rodeo Road.
A tale of two states
The New York Times contrasts New Mexico's strict COVID-19 public health restrictions with South Dakota's lax approach in "1 America, 1 Pandemic, 2 Realities," a story that shows "two discordant, dissonant pandemic realities" through visits to both states. While New Mexico's economy is faring worse than South Dakota's, the latter state, the Times reports, has the country's second highest rate of new cases. New Mexico, however, also has "a more alarming trend line," with an exponential rise of new cases. Differing views of the pandemic from location to location have led to strained interpersonal relationships, but the most heartbreaking depiction lies at the story's conclusion, where family members gather outside the ICU windows at Memorial Medical Center in Las Cruces, looking in at their loved ones. They include 26-year-old Dominic Garcia, the youngest child of 60-year-old Sylvia Garcia, hospitalized for three weeks. "You can't even describe the feelings you get when you're outside of a window, and you can't go in there," Dominic Garcia says. "You start thinking I should have hugged her a little bit harder. I should have held her hand a little bit tighter."
State seeks missing students
New Mexico's Public Education Department says it is partnering with other agencies to locate more than 12,000 students who have stopped attending school during the pandemic. The department released that figure—based on preliminary absence reports—earlier than usual due to concerns about the high rate of missing students. "While these numbers could change, as they always do, they are still large enough to cause genuine, immediate concern," PED Secretary Ryan Stewart said in a statement. "School attendance is not an option for New Mexico children, even in these challenging times. We owe it to these students and to the future of our state to find them and help them overcome whatever obstacles are preventing them from participating in our education system." Meanwhile, Santa Fe Public Schools will be altering its schedule following complaints about heavy workloads and a report that 38% of students between the third and 12th grades had failed at least one class during the first quarter.
SFPD charges sixth person in obelisk destruction
The Santa Fe Police Department on Friday announced charges against downtown gallery owner Stephen Fox, the sixth person accused of three crimes related to alleged involvement in the destruction of the obelisk on Indigenous Peoples Day. Fox faces charges of criminal damage to property (more than $1,000), conspiracy to commit criminal damage and unlawful assembly. Fox, 72, admits he was on the Plaza that day and helped the dozens of other people pull on the towrope that eventually partially toppled the monument, but says he didn't know about the charges until SFR called him. "I don't need a lawyer because it all comes from the fact that [Mayor Alan Webber] said that it was time for this obelisk to go," Fox tells SFR. "Once it was clear the mayor wanted the obelisk to go, I felt no trepidation when someone handed me the rope."
New Mexico's new and incoming Health Secretary Dr. Tracie Collins visits KUNM's "University Showcase" program on its most recent episode to discuss how the state can tackle the surging pandemic. Slated to start the new job mid-December, Collin has served as dean of University of New Mexico's College of Population Health since 2019, and says her interest in health care dates to her youth. The episode also features Geography and Environmental Studies Chair and professor Chris Duvall, who is teaching a course on the pandemic.
Outdoor rec advocates eye the future
Among other accomplishments, one year in, the state's Outdoor Recreation Division has awarded $75,000 to six infrastructure projects intended to improve access to the outdoors and the state's recreation economy, with projects ranging from improved signage for trails in Gallup to eco-friendly toilets in Taos. But ORD Director Axie Navas says the office received nearly $720,000 worth of requests for that pilot project alone and will request approximately $3.2 million in next year's legislative session to fund The Great New Mexico Trails Package. The ORD also will ask for approximately $1 million for its keystone Outdoor Equity Fund, which prioritizes outdoor recreation and education projects for youth, particularly from underserved and low-income communities. The office is looking at both these programs, Navas says, "through an economic development recovery and resiliency lens that is intrinsically tied to COVID."
Let there be art
Art News magazine highlights virtual offerings from three Santa Fe museums: The Museum of International Folk Art, the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum and SITE Santa Fe. At MOIFA, the magazine recommends this virtual tour of an exhibition dedicated to the late designer Alexander Girard. At the O'Keeffe: a video tour of the artist's animal bone collection, which includes a talk from Museum Fellow Victoria Monagle—a doctoral student specializing in Zooarchaeology—overviewing the species and bone elements in the collection and how O'Keeffe portrayed them in her paintings. At SITE Santa Fe, Art News homes in on the museum's lecture archives, specifically a video of the activist Russian collective Pussy Riot talking to artist Tania Bruguera for the first time via cell phone.
Ready for rain
Santa Fe has a 50% chance of showers and thunderstorms throughout the day, the forecast says, and will otherwise be cloudy with a high near 52 degrees and south wind around 10 mph. Tonight: A 40% chance of rain before 11 pm.