COVID-19 by the numbers

New COVID-19 daily cases continue to climb this week—approximately two weeks past the Christmas holiday—as New Mexico health officials yesterday reported another 1,841. The state announced 936 new cases on Monday, 1,201 on Tuesday and 1,496 Wednesday. Yesterday's new cases brought the total number so far to 151,819, of which the health department has designated 74,235 as recovered.

Bernalillo County had 449 new cases, followed by San Juan County with 231 and Sandoval County with 143. Santa Fe County had 131 new cases, tying with Eddy County for the fourth highest number of new cases in the state. Santa Fe County's southside 87507 ZIP code remained on the top 10 ZIP codes with new cases, but decreased to seventh (it was third on Wednesday) with 51 of yesterday's cases.

The state also announced 39 additional deaths, including a man in his 50s from Santa Fe County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions. Statewide, there have now been 2,680 fatalities. As of yesterday, 722 people were hospitalized with COVID-19

You can read all of SFR's COVID-19 coverage here. If you've had experiences with COVID-19, we would like to hear from you.

Health department launches vaccine call center

As promised, the health department yesterday launched a call center to help New Mexicans with questions about registering for the COVID-19 vaccine. So far, officials say nearly 300,000 people have registered through its online site to be notified when they are eligible; the site only requires basic personal and health information. People who require help with the registration process—including those without internet access—can now call 1-855-600-3453, press option 0 for vaccine questions, and then option 4 for tech support. People with other questions about the vaccine should call the same number, but just press 0. "New Mexico is working to deliver vaccine as quickly and efficiently as possible," Health Secretary-designate Dr. Tracie Collins said in a news statement. "We encourage everyone to register—and we are pleased to provide in-person support to assist with that process." During a news conference Wednesday, Collins said she expected to announce this week details regarding the next group of people eligible to receive the vaccine, but noted it would include people age 75 and older.

Good gov group: US Rep. Herrell should resign

Common Cause New Mexico is calling for the resignation of newly elected US Rep. Yvette Herrell, who represents the state's 2nd Congressional District, after Herrell used her first speech on the House Floor Thursday to object to some states' electoral votes for President-elect Joe Biden. "In our democracy, voters decide who wins elections," Common Cause Executive Director Heather Ferguson said in a news release. "Congresswoman Herrell failed to follow the Constitution and her oath of office yesterday by voting to deny the will of the people." Herrell, said Ferguson, proved she "cannot carry out the duties of [the] office in our democratic republic and must immediately resign."

Meanwhile, State GOP Chairman Steve Pearce in a statement yesterday said the state party recognizes Congress' certification of the presidential election on Thursday, but maintains "there are still too many unanswered questions surrounding the vote count, voting machines, drop boxes and absentee ballots in our presidential election. We have raised these issues in New Mexico, but our requests to the Secretary of State fell on deaf ears." (In response, Secretary of State spokesman Alex Curtas told the Associated Press that Pearce and the state GOP "should be ashamed of themselves for continuing false narratives.") And state House Republicans say they support Carlsbad Republican state Rep. Cathrynn Brown's bill to decertify New Mexico's vote for Biden. Curtas also described Brown's bill as a non-starter: "The act of trying to decertify the duly cast electoral college votes from New Mexico, and silence the voices of the New Mexico voters who cast their ballots, has no basis in reality, legal or otherwise," he said. "The election is over. The electors cast their votes. Republican challenges have been heard by courts in New Mexico and all across the nation and have been decisively rejected."

Santa Fe public schools stay online

Public school employees who have contact with students and the public should be vaccinated before schools open, Santa Fe Public Schools Superintendent Veronica García told board members during last night's school board meeting. As it's not clear when that will happen, the district will remain in remote-only learning for now, she said. "If a large portion of our staff is vaccinated, it might make it more feasible to open sooner rather than later in a hybrid model until the infection numbers go down," she said. "That's going to be in a bit. It's not going to happen in the next two weeks, that's for sure." García also said the district's enrollment has declined by 4.5% since last year, with officials accounting for all lost students except for seven, three of whom are siblings.

Listen up (and watch)

Happy (almost) 80th birthday, Joan Baez. To celebrate the occasion, AMP Concerts will stream a virtual reception at 6:30 pm, Jan. 9 for Baez' new exhibition of paintings, Mischief Makers 2, the second solo exhibition by the iconic folksinger, activist and artist ($15 in advance/$20 the day of the show). The program includes an interview with Baez, a tour of the show and "various surprises" (the event is not a concert). Mischief Makers 2 features portraits of singer-songwriter Patti Smith; teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, filmmaker Michael Moore; former NFL quarterback and activist Colin Kaepernick; gun control activist Emma Gonzalez; counterculture icon Wavy Gravy; and Pulitzer Prize-winning author and activist Alice Walker. The archived stream will be available on-demand until Feb. 14.

Attention Shutterbugs!

SFR wants to see what you've been seeing (within reason). Enter SFR's 2021 Photo Contest by Feb. 1 for a chance to win prizes and have your work featured in the paper. Winning photos also will be printed in large format and auctioned at the SFR Photo Show, a special event to benefit the New Mexico Fund for Public Interest Journalism and Vital Spaces. Entry fees are $5 per photo, with no entry limits. All photos must be submitted electronically at 300 DPI and include caption information (the photograph's location and date taken must be included). New Mexico locations only, please. Entrants must provide their email addresses for contact purposes; paid contributors to SFR in the last year are ineligible. You can check out last year's winners here.

Tom Ford sells ranch

Apparently, fashion designer Tom Ford has finally found a buyer for his New Mexico ranch, a 20,662-acre property that first came on the market in 2016 for $75 million before its price was cut to $48 million. According to the Wall Street Journal, New York real-estate agent Clayton Orrigo of Compass, who says he represented the buyer along with Neil Lyon of Sotheby's International Realty, announced the deal on Instagram, noting it had "been an honor to work on this for the past 4 months, and I'm thrilled for the new owners who have showed me firsthand what it's like to dream bigger." Located in the Galisteo Basin area, the property is known as the Cerro Pelon Ranch and includes the Silverado Movie Town, which was used in the films Silverado, All the Pretty Horses and Thor. Speaking to WSJ in 2009, Ford described the property as his refuge, a place where he could "appreciate the present…with the sun above me and the rattlesnakes growing under the bush."

The sun will only partially come out…tomorrow!

While today will be mostly sunny with a high near 45 degrees (north wind 5 to 15 mph becoming southwest in the afternoon), the sun will only partially come out tomorrow. Instead, look for a 40% chance of showers after 11 am, (otherwise, partly sunny with a high near 41 degrees) and snow likely Saturday night, mostly after 11 pm. Sunday weather returns to mostly sunny, but colder, with a high near 35 degrees.

Thanks for reading! The Word tried (hard) and failed (spectacularly) to spot the Great Conjunction last month, but she's looking forward to catching the celestial events of 2021. If you are as well, consider the Pajarito Environmental Education Center's free online astronomy talk for beginner stargazers, "The Night Sky in January," at 7 pm tonight.