COVID-19 by the numbers (or not)
New Mexico health officials yesterday were unable to report new COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations following an internet outage. According to a news release, that outage resulted in a disruption to various laboratory reports that are collected and then reported by the Department of Health. Tuesday's report will be posted today as soon as the system resumes, and the state will aim to publish Wednesday's numbers at the usual time (4ish) today as well.
The health department will still notify people who have tested positive and today's disruption will not impact "the cumulative reporting of COVID-19 cases or the evaluation of the state's epidemiological data."
Udall’s farewell: “The Senate is broken”
Outgoing US Sen. Tom Udall, D-NM, bid his farewell yesterday, describing himself as a "troubled optimist" whose concerns include the triple crises of climate change, societal inequities and democracy. "We cannot solve one of these crises without solving the others," Udall said. "That's why I'm troubled. But all I have to do to be optimistic is to look around me. I look at the young people across this country—who are calling for change. For climate action, for voting rights and immigrant rights, for economic and environmental and racial justice. They've held sit-ins in my office. Probably in yours too. They are demanding that we do better. And their determination gives me hope." Udall also described the US Senate itself as "broken" and said a legislative filibuster had turned the body into a "graveyard for progress." Udall, a former attorney general for New Mexico, was elected to the US Senate in 2008, following five terms representing the 3rd Congressional District. Read his complete farewell speech here.
LANL scientists model vaccine distribution scenarios
Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists who have played key roles in modeling the COVID-19 pandemic for New Mexico are now using mathematical models and computational simulations to evaluate scenarios for vaccine distribution. With Pfizer's vaccine expected to become available in the US soon, with others to follow, distribution questions are now more than theoretical. New Mexico placed its first orders for Pfizer's vaccine, 17,550 doses, on Dec. 4, which will be provided to frontline healthcare workers. The vaccine, scientists Sara Del Valle and Ben McMahon say, provides a "light at the end of the tunnel," but continuing mitigation strategies, such as social distancing and mask wearing, remains crucial. "There's an end in sight," McMahon says. "We all know it's painful to do all of these isolations and avoiding family gatherings, but…if we can delay things past springtime, there's a very real chance the problem will be much alleviated."
Sixth obelisk suspect arraigned
Gallery owner Stephen Fox was arraigned yesterday in Santa Fe Magistrate Court on charges in connection with the Oct. 12 dismantling of the obelisk on the Plaza. Fox, 72, was the sixth person charged in the case and faces up to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine if convicted of two fourth-degree felony charges of criminal damage to property over $1,000 and conspiracy to commit criminal damage to property over $1,000. Authorities also charged him with unlawful assembly, which is a petty misdemeanor. Fox has admitted he helped pull the rope that toppled the monument, and wrote a letter to the court, Mayor Alan Webber and Santa Fe Police Chief Andrew Padilla seeking an "amicable" resolution to the case. Magistrate Judge George Anaya Jr. told Fox yesterday the court hadn't read the letter, which he described as "inappropriate."
We're not sure how we missed Alien Crash Site, a new InterPlanetary interview series from the Santa Fe Institute when it launched in October, but we're catching up now. The series asks scientists, artists, authors and athletes what technologies they might hope to find in a "Zone" like the alien visitation area from the Strugatsky brothers' novel, Roadside Picnic (adapted to film as Stalker by Andrei Tarkovsky). The most recent episode features game designer Frank Lantz, director of New York University's Game Center, founder of Area/Code Games and the soon to be launched Hello Planet, discussing "the role of art for progress (or contra-progress!), the possibility space of limitation, metarationality, and a mysterious Zone-find of his own."
Keep shopping locally
As previously noted, to whatever degree you're shopping this holiday season, keep it safe and keep it local. To that end, Santa Fe's favorite social media mavens, Simply Social Media's Amy Tischler and Caitlin Jenkins, are making it super easy on Instagram (and you don't have to be on Instagram to partake) with their #ShopLocalSantaFe campaign. This initiative includes several shopping guides devoted to locally available products, as well as a local makers guide featuring creatives such as handbag designer Rachel Hosmer‑Reyes; Astral Weaves fiber artist Diana P. Casey; and macrame genius Maria Anderson from Desert Darling studio, just to name a few. And while you don't need to be on Instagram to enjoy the guides, it might be worth it as Tischler and Jenkins also are hosting giveaways tied to the campaign.
Santa Fe students win app challenge
Congrats to Capital High School students Christopher Mendoza, Zachariah Burch and Joshua Mari Tamarra, who won the 2020 Congressional App Challenge for New Mexico's 3rd Congressional District with their "Solar Age" app, which helps homeowners estimate their annual electricity usage and cost. "I know that their app has the potential to be an important tool for homeowners, and I congratulate this year's winners and honorees on pursuing a STEM education," US Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-NM, said in a statement announcing the winners. STEM Santa Fe has developed a summer camp around the Congressional App Challenge, and Academy for Technology and the Classics student Vinaya Kurapati, who participated in such a camp, won 2nd place for her recycling app, R3 (Reuse, Reduce, and Recycle). Santa Fe Girls' School student Ruby Sallah also participated in a STEM summer coding camp and won 3rd place for her app "Science Sleuths," which helps teach kids and young adults about chemistry, biology and geology.
Waiting on weather
Another sunny day awaits, according to today's forecast, which calls for high temps near 56 degrees and north wind 5 to 15 mph becoming west in the afternoon. Our chances for precipitation tomorrow have risen to 70%, with some kind of weather continuing through the end of the week into Saturday.
Thanks for reading! The Word has been under siege from Peloton and Mirror ads, which somehow or another led her to this story about Victorian home exercise equipment.