COVID-19 by the numbers
Since the start of the new year, New Mexico has added 3,571 new COVID-19 cases, with 1,286 on Friday, 1,252 on Saturday and 1,033 on Sunday, bringing the total number of cases so far to 146,394. Of those, the health department has designated 68,876 as recovered. Santa Fe County had 133 additional cases during those three days (59, 49 and 25, respectively).
There have been 74 additional deaths over the last three days (25, 32 and 17), with three from Santa Fe County among residents at the Vista Hermosa facility: a woman in her 90s who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions and a man in his 80s with underlying conditions, both on Jan. 2; and yesterday, a woman in her 80s. There have now been 2,551 total fatalities statewide. As of yesterday, 716 people were hospitalized with COVID-19.
New study details Santa Fe’s extreme housing shortage
"Housing affordability is a key issue facing employers, prospective businesses, city leaders, state officials and local Santa Feans," Susan Orth, president of the Santa Fe Association of Realtors, writes in the introduction to a new study that provides a comprehensive look at the issue for the city and county. "Growing smart will be key as we face the extreme housing and rental shortages in our community with limited resources to address the issue," she notes. Partners on the study included affordable housing, homelessness and business representatives. A few key takeaways include: In both the county and city, the majority of homes are owner occupied (70% vs. 62%, respectively). More than a third of Santa Fe residents commute out and 37.8% of its workers commute in for work. The Santa Fe Metropolitan Statistical Area runs short on rental units by 7,343 and, in 2019, Santa Fe rental vacancy rates were 2.3%, with average rent prices of $1,038. The study also notes what it describes as an "overlooked" market condition for Santa Fe's rental situation: the conversion of rentals to condominiums. The report uses 2019 as a baseline year, given that 2020 data was severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. "Santa Fe, like the rest of the nation, will enter 2021 with economic uncertainty due to the [COVID-19] pandemic's looming presence," the report notes. "The housing market will continue to see-saw as waves of coronavirus infections pop up throughout the country."
Blazing new ground
Santa Fe County's first female fire chief, Jackie Lindsey, will start her new job mid-January. She didn't set out to become the first female fire chief but, rather, pursued firefighting as a passion, she tells the Albuquerque Journal. "It is important to society, more than ever before, for our young women, and girls, to see that there are no boundaries," she says. "And you do everything you can to get that—you're going to run into obstacles, but every person that's tried to achieve something is running into obstacles. So, I think don't let it be an obstacle." Lindsey has been a firefighter since graduating from the University of New Mexico, working for the city of Albuquerque before going to study at the Naval Postgraduate School. She also served as cabinet secretary for New Mexico's Homeland Security and Emergency Management department, and is currently on the FEMA National Advisory Council.
Fall-out for Acoma Pueblo
The New York Times delves into Indian Health Service's decision last November to slash funding at the Acoma-Cañoncito-Laguna hospital in Acoma Pueblo. As Acoma Pueblo Gov. Brian Vallo recently told SFR, that decision led his pueblo to work with the state rather than IHS on vaccine distribution. The service reduction at the hospital—in the middle of the pandemic—had dire consequences for tribal members reliant on it, resulting in people having to travel an hour away to Albuquerque for medical care. The situation highlighted systemic problems between tribal and federal governments, such as IHS' "decades-long weaknesses," the Times writes, which has "contributed to disproportionately high infections and death rates among Native Americans." Greg Smith, a lobbyist for the Pueblo of Acoma, says the decision to cut services resulted in 30 doctors and nurses either quitting or retiring, and reflects IHS' dislike for small and less cost-effective hospitals. "From a public health standpoint, how does it make any sense to close a 24-hour facility that is serving a vulnerable population during a global pandemic and effectively replace it with two daytime clinics?" Smith asks.
In Georgia O'Keeffe—A Life Well Lived, photographer Malcolm Varon captured O'Keeffe as she neared her 90th birthday, showcasing her homes and companions at Ghost Ranch and Abiquiú, as well as the landscapes that inspired her. Varon's book includes both his own reflections on his time with O'Keeffe, as well as those from the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum Director Cody Hartley and O'Keeffe scholar Barbara Buhler Lynes. KSFR's MK Mendoza speaks with Varon about this new book in a recent edition of "Wake Up Call."
2021 Indigenous Playlist
Cowboys & Indians magazine features two New Mexico musicians in its "Real Deal" column recommending Indigenous American musicians to check out in 2021. Albuquerque's Shelley Morningsong (Cheyenne), the magazine says, "should be on your playlist and live-performance bucket list." Morningsong won the Native American Music Awards Artist of the Year in 2019 and Best Blues Recording for her album Simple Truth. Guitarist Levi Platero (Navajo) also makes the list. Platero began performing as a member of his family's band blues rock band "The Plateros" in 2004 before venturing out on as a solo artist; his single "Take Me Back" won the 2016 New Mexico Music Awards for Best Blues.
Santa Fe made Mansion Global's "listing of the day" for Jan. 1 with a $3 million former gallery that features 5,300 square feet of showroom space attached to a "cozy" one-bedroom casita. Sotheby's listing agent Darlene Streit tells the magazine the property owner has another gallery nearby and used this space for special events and exhibits. Streit says the property "could be turned into a fabulous residence for someone, or it could be live/work or an actual gallery again. It has that flexibility." Indeed: The property has been staged to look like a home, and the listing counts three bedrooms and five bathrooms. The 512-square-foot casita has one bedroom and one full bathroom. Location: East side, just a stone's throw from Canyon Road.
High and dry
Today will be mostly sunny and windy, with a high near 48 degrees and north wind 5 to 15 mph becoming south in the afternoon. From the looks of it, that's the week in a nutshell with our next (slim) chance for precipitation currently on tap for next weekend…a lifetime away.
Thanks for reading! The Word totally relates to this New Yorker "Hibernation Insomnia" essay, even though it is satire told from a bear's point of view.