COVID-19 by the numbers
New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 541 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total so far to 179,323; the health department has designated 116,518 of those as recovered. Bernalillo County had 111 new cases, followed by Chaves County with 101 and Doña Ana County with 73. Santa Fe County had nine new case.
The state also announced 18 additional deaths; there have now been 3,479 fatalities statewide. As of yesterday, 371 people were hospitalized with COVID-19.
State Senate approves abortion-ban repeal
The state Senate yesterday passed Senate Bill 10, which repeals a 1969 ban on abortions here that has been unenforceable since the 1974 Roe v Wade decision. Following Republicans' failed attempts to modify the bill and several hours of heated testimony, the bill passed 25-17, primarily along partisan lines. Democrats George Muñoz of Gallup and Pete Campos of Las Vegas also voted against the bill, but the six other Democrats who voted against it in a prior session no longer hold their seats: a progressive slate of Democrats ousted five of them in the last primary election. The bill now heads to the House and, if passed, will be signed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who issued a statement upon its Senate passage yesterday: "This is a simple bill. And it is powerful in its simplicity. It affirms a woman's self-evident autonomy over her own body. And it ensures no health care provider in our state may be criminalized for providing health care. I thank and applaud the women senators who spoke in such personal terms in their supportive testimony today." Several female state senators presented the bill and offered the reasons for their support, while the bill's lead sponsor, Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque, unapologetically refused to debate or take questions from the bill's critics: "I appreciate some of the mansplaining on the Senate floor today regarding reproductive choice," she said in a concluding statement. "We can hold our own moral values on abortion and still trust a woman, a pregnant person and her family, to make that decision for themselves. Reproductive rights are human rights."
Gov talks pandemic in DC
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham left New Mexico yesterday for the first time since the pandemic began to meet with other governors and mayors for a COVID-19 discussion at the White House. President Joe Biden's press secretary, Jen Psaki, announced the meeting Wednesday during a news briefing, saying Biden would be meeting with the group to discuss the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion relief package that includes a $20 billion national vaccination program; $50 billion for expanded COVID-19 testing; $1,400 stimulus checks; and expanded surveillance programs to track COVID-19 variants, among other items. According to a news release, the governor "plans to advocate for the proposed $350 billion in essential state and local aid and for continued increases in vaccine supply" to New Mexico. She returns late today.
Blazing the trail
Will New Mexico legalize recreational marijuana this year and, if so, how? A 10 am Saturday hearing in the House Health and Human Services Committee may set the stage for the debate. Several proposals would make New Mexico the 16th state to fully legalize cannabis for adult use. While legislators' approaches regarding regulation and taxation differ, the core conflict centers on incorporating social-justice measures into marijuana legalization. House Bill 12 and Senate Bill 363 both address the systemic inequities perpetrated by the long-lived War on Drugs by, for instance, creating a community grants program that would reinvest "in communities disproportionately affected by past federal and state drug policies by supporting housing, job placement, mental health treatment, substance use disorder treatment and legal services to address barriers faced by formerly incarcerated persons, including for the expungement of records." Emily Kaltenbach, senior director of resident states and New Mexico director for the Drug Policy Alliance, tells SFR DPA supports HB12 and SB363 because they "include robust social justice and equity provisions," noting that "the public supports those as the core of legalization, and they must be the core. We can't have just an industry bill." Lawmakers will also hear from those supporting scaled-down industry-supported bills: House Bill 17 and its companion Senate Bill 13.
AMP Concerts and the Museum of International Folk Art will supply your Valentine's Day soundtrack at 7 pm, Feb. 14 with "Música Buena: Canciones de Amor/Songs of Love," a live performance and conversation with State Historian Rob Martínez highlighting themes of love within the New Mexican Hispano folk music traditions. The performance will include New Mexican, Mexican, Spanish and American music with voice and guitar, and is held in conjunction with two MOIFA exhibitions: "Música Buena: Hispano Folk Music of New Mexico" and the concurrent "Música Buena: Celebrating Music in New Mexico," located in the WoW (Wonders on Wheels) Van.
Food for love
On Feb. 13, tune in for the star-studded Food for Love concert benefitting the New Mexico Association of Food Banks. SFR's top pick this week, the concert includes big names like David Byrne, Shawn Colvin, Marcia Ball, Lyle Lovett, Nathaniel Rateliff, Eliza Gilkyson, Kurt Vile, Terry Allen, Jackson Browne, Jono Manson, Sue Foley and so many more performers we sort of regret making any kind of list here. The event also includes special guest appearances by George RR Martin, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, former Gov. Bill Richardson, writers Hampton Sides and N. Scott Momaday…this list also goes on. Violet Crown owner and event organizer Bill Banowsky tells SFR the benefit has been in the works since last summer following musician Terry Allen's "A Night for Austin" benefit, a similar endeavor that raised more than half a million dollars for out-of-work Texas musicians; this time, the proceeds will help feed New Mexicans in need. Why are so many people coming together for the state? "A combination of Terry making the ask and it being a worthy cause," Banowsky says. "Many of these artists have played here a lot, and there's an affinity for our state and our people. New Mexico is a beloved place. We've put a light on that, and the response has been great from the artists." Food for Love runs for 48 hours, but the website will remain active should folks wish to donate after (or before).
Feel the love
Yes, there's a theme afoot. In advance of Feb. 14, SFR's annual Love & Sex edition is on the streets (and the interwebs) with thoughts on pandemic intimacy, pandemic dating and what appears to be a take-down of rom-coms (with which we disagree, but we are so filled with love we are sharing it anyway). Now let's talk turkey, by which we mean chocolate. The Fork newsletter recently offered some suggestions for gifts to please, such as Chocolate Maven's chocolate cherry brownie box. Also: No one has ever gone wrong at Kakawa Chocolate House. Opuntia Cafe will send you a home with a ready-to-heat meal for two (see it and read the description on Instagram), which comes with a unique bouquet and code that spins up a Valentine's-inspired Spotify playlist crafted by Lost Padre Records. Back Road Pizza has heart-shaped-cookie boxes (and will also make you a heart-shaped pizza). And be sure to grab some flowers at Mini Falls Farm's pop-up flower shop at Chainé Gourmet Cookies (131 W. Water St.) noon to 4 pm on Sunday. Yes, there will be cookies. Very delicious cookies. And for Valentine's Day events that don't (necessarily) involve cookies, don't miss the annual Love Your River Day from the Santa Fe Watershed Association Feb. 12-14, where you can show the Santa Fe River some love and win prizes.
Weather whether you like it or not
Santa Fe has a 20% chance of showers today after 2 pm, but will otherwise be mostly cloudy with a high near 50 degrees and east wind 5 to 15 mph becoming southwest in the afternoon. Saturday looks pleasant with partly sunny skies and a high near 52 degrees. The rain starts Saturday night before 11 pm, transmogrifies into "patchy blowing snow" after 11 pm, by which point the 52-degree day will plummet to an 18-degree low night. Saturday night's 80% chance of precipitation rises to 90% on Sunday, when the blowing snow continues to be patchy, the high temp reaches 25 degrees and the wind blows to the southeast 20 to 25 mph, sometimes gusting as high as 35 degrees. Sunday night might bring more snow (a 30% chance) and a low of 2 degrees. And then it will be Monday, also Presidents Day, where the sun will partly re-emerge and temps will rise to 30 degrees, but look for chances of snow straight on through Wednesday.
Thanks for reading! The Word could use a new way of signing her emails and is seriously considering one of these. That's it for now.