COVID-19 by the numbers
New Mexico health officials reported 3,585 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend: 2,142 on Saturday and 1,443 on Sunday, bringing the statewide total number of cases so far to 95,417. Bernalillo County had the most new cases: 1,075, followed by Doña Ana County with 385 cases and Chaves County with 297. Santa Fe County had 221 new cases over the weekend: 129 on Saturday and 92 on Sunday.
The state also announced 36 more deaths over the weekend—23 on Saturday and 13 on Sunday—bringing the total number of fatalities thus far to 1,540. As of yesterday, 919 people are hospitalized with COVID-19.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and state officials will host a live remote conference at 3 pm today to provide an update on COVID-19 in New Mexico and the county-by-county reopening framework for the state's pandemic response. The news conference will be streamed live on the governor's Facebook page and at sfreporter.com.
Retail strip malls to residences
Santa Fe may soon see a new trend of developers turning retail strip mallsinto condos and apartments in an effort to create more affordable housing. "Santa Fe, we've seen this here," Homewise CEO Mike Loftin said. "Canyon Road was once all residential. There's residential and commerce right next to each other. Who would not like that? If you can convert commercial that is underused or vacant, why not let people do that? Is Santa Fe open to that kind of mixed use?" Following this same line of thinking, the city of Santa Fe agreed to purchase the Santa Fe Suites to convert into affordable studio apartments for people who are housing insecure because of COVID-19. The plan is to transform the old motel into 122 apartments with the help of Santa Fe's CARES Act dollars.
State wants more water data
The Oil Conservation Division of the state Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department will require New Mexico oil and gas operators to report the amount and quality of water used to drill wells. Officials want the data to analyze water use across the state, the Albuquerque Journal reported Saturday. "A justifiable concern from the public is that New Mexico is a very dry and arid state, and our oil and gas operations are consuming some of that fresh water," said Adrienne Sandoval, director of the Oil Conservation Division. Companies must now submit water use data through an online reporting system within 45 days of well completion.
Big jets with big guns
The US Air Force has selected Kirtland Air Force Base as the future home for its AC-130J aircraft and training force. Each of the beefed-up aircrafts were built for about $115 million, complete with engines that allow them to stay in the air longer without refueling, they have the ability to fly higher, carry more weight and engage targets from longer distances. In addition to small-diameter bombs and air-to-ground Hellfire missiles, the gunships have 30- and 105-millimeter cannons guided by precision laser and GPS systems.
The 2020 Journalism Under Fire conference, hosted by the Santa Fe Council on International Relations, went virtual this year, of course. In a recent panel called Our Public Health Crisis: Journalism and COVID-19, New Mexico's Secretary of Human Services Dr. David Scrase, Prof. Sam Scarpino from Northeastern University and Sara Del Valle of the Los Alamos National Laboratory discussed how New Mexico has responded with evidence and modeling to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the contributions from the Los Alamos National Laboratory and how has journalism worked to digest this complex evidence into "news we can use." SFR's Julia Goldberg moderated the panel. Watch all the conference presentations for free on the council's YouTube page.
900 hours of forest clean-up
Walter Futrell, a board member for the New Mexico Volunteers for the Outdoors, assembled a team of volunteers who performed nearly 900 hours of trail maintenance from May to late October in the Santa Fe National Forest. Futrell started out clearing the trails alone for the first three days. But a team quickly came together. Futrell said his crew completed about 88% of the work they set out to accomplish on the Norski Trail. "There's some stuff we'll go back and do next spring, next summer," he said. "There will probably be more downed trees that need to be moved."
Archdiocese of Santa Fe lays off 20 people
The Archdiocese of Santa Fe in New Mexico is cutting 20 positions and ending publication of its People of God magazine. The layoffs include positions in the Pastoral Ministries Division, five in the General Services Division and three each in the Office of the Vicar General and Office of the Chancellor. The radio host for Archbishop's Hour will also be let go. The archdiocese has faced financial issues for several years. It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2018 after a slew of child sexual abuse claims. "It is impossible to put into words just how much we are going to miss our friends with whom we have ministered for so long," wrote Archbishop John C. Wester in a letter to parishioners, adding later, "Their dedication, competence and love for the Church stand as a fitting tribute to their legacy. We wish them well in the future, and assure them of our never-ending gratitude and promise of prayer."
Let it shine
It's all sun today in Santa Fe. Today will be sunny, a high near 48 degrees and a 5 to 10 mph north wind becoming southwest in the afternoon. Tonight will be mostly clear, with a low around 22 degrees. There will be a west wind around 5 mph becoming north after midnight.
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