COVID-19 by the numbers

New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 411 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total so far to 181,739. The health department has designated 126,446 of those cases as recovered. Bernalillo County had 125 cases, followed by Doña Ana County with 96 and Sandoval County with 24. Santa Fe County had 19 new cases, 11 from the 87507 ZIP code, which ranked eighth in the state yesterday for ZIP codes with the most new cases.

The state also announced 18 additional deaths, including one from Santa Fe County: a woman in her 70s who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions. There have now been 131 deaths in Santa Fe County and 3,580 statewide. As of yesterday, 284 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.

Hypertension leads among vaccinated people

Under New Mexico's vaccination plan, people aged 16 and older with certain qualifying conditions are currently eligible—as a subgroup in Phase1B—to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The list includes 10 conditions that create an increased risk of severe illness, as well as 10 that might. According to public records requested and inspected by SFR, 358,993 of the more than 631,000 people who have registered for a vaccine have a qualifying condition—nearly 57%. The state's most recent epidemiology report on mortality, which delineates underlying conditions among people who died of COVID-19, shows hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular disease as the most common throughout the pandemic. Among people who have received the vaccine, hypertension thus far is the highest-occurring condition, according to health department records, with 46,013 people with hypertension receiving the vaccine. Also in the top three: 22,015 with obesity (as well as an additional 4,559 identified as severely obese) and 18,807 with Type 2 diabetes.

SFPS Superintendent: Low Number of Students Want to Return

Santa Fe Public Schools passed site inspections this week and will open in hybrid learning on Monday, SFPS Superintendent Veronica García told board members during last night's meeting, saying it had taken "heroic efforts" by district staff. "We already had everything set up in the fall, but more requirements came in and how they wanted things inspected and whatnot," she said. According to the superintendent, approximately 4,000 of the district's roughly 12,500 students have indicated they want to return to some in-person learning, and 1,990 of them will be on a waiting list due to inadequate staffing. "I was surprised because I thought the number would be much higher," García said, regarding the number of students opting to return. Reasons for students and families not wanting to return include students learning they would no longer be in the same cohorts as their friends; parents wanting to wait until their teachers were on campus; and concern about teachers not being vaccinated against COVID-19 yet. The district's waiting list does not include high school students, whose eligibility for school sports hinges on opening in hybrid mode.

Zia Station moves to City Council

After hours of discussion last night, the Santa Fe Planning Commission voted 6-2 to recommend the City Council approve Zia Station's preliminary development plan. The project, which the commission postponed voting upon earlier this month, has drawn myriad complaints from neighbors, who cite safety, traffic and affordable housing concerns as reasons for their opposition. The Commission last night recommended the project, which spans 21 acres on both sides of Zia Road, just west of St. Francis Drive, move forward with five changes. Those include classifying the northern 12.1-acre parcel from low density residential to high density residential, and 2.2 acres in the southern parcel from low density residential to transitional mixed-use. Building height comprised a significant portion of the discussion, with debate over rezoning the development out of the South Central Highway Protection Corridor along with changing the entire northern parcel to planned unit development. Commissioners praised Zia Station LLC and SF Brown's affordable housing component, which will include 39 affordable units for 10 years and a fee-in-lieu of $148,814 paid to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. "If we don't use infill as a way to spread affordable housing throughout the city…the result is affordable housing goes in one certain area of town and it can create a lot of social injustice and it actually is dangerous for cities," Commissioner Pilar Faulkner said.

Listen up

Earlier this month, AMP Concerts, in collaboration with the National Hispanic Cultural Center, hosted a discussion and watch party for composer and vocalist Magos Herrera and composer Paola Prestini's Con Alma project: an album and live digital experience of original works. Through this weekend, you can check out a discussion between the artists and KUNM Radio's Cristina Baccin, along with the full "Tree of 40 Fruit" video.

Black History Month 101

Writer Darryl Lorenzo Wellington unpacks Black History Month in his most recent essay for SFR, noting that he does so feeling less compelled than in the past to explain or defend the annual month-long celebration of Black lives and culture. Wellington explains the origins of Black History Month and discusses the various ways in which it is commemorated: "You'll see it on television and in special (but limited-time-only) streaming service sections or in Facebook lists of the names and dates behind Black firsts—sometimes minor and sometimes quite important historical accomplishments: a Black individual who broke a glass ceiling, who strongly influenced some major historical event or who pioneered a field of study," he writes. "It's a month of lists, facts, lists, facts." Yes, learning these facts is worthwhile, he says, as "You will, with slow aggregation, begin incorporating something deeper into your worldview." After reading Wellington's shrewd observations, you can also celebrate Black History Month with him at his online poetry and play reading, sponsored by Teatro Paraguas, at 5 pm, this Sunday, Feb. 21 (free, but donations welcome).

Omega Mart opens its doors

Meow Wolf's Las Vegas Omega Mart opened yesterday— "the culmination of 13 years of work as a group and…a generational leap forward in our work from our first project," Meow Wolf co-founder Corvas Brinkerhoff, executive creative director for the Las Vegas site, tells The Hollywood Reporter. THR provides a nutshell description of Meow Wolf's latest as "250 unique projects that invite discovery, showcasing contributions from more than 325 art, music and digital creators including artists Alex and Allyson Grey, known for the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors; musician Brian Eno; pop group Beach House; and singer Santigold." Brinkerhoff tells the Las Vegas Weekly that Meow Wolf also sought out and worked with numerous Las Vegas artists in addition to its own core group. "There's such a wealth of artists and performers here, and just so many people for us to collaborate with," Brinkerhoff said. "We're always actively trying to undermine our own biases and find new ways to bring artists into the fold." As for opening an indoor interactive exhibit during a pandemic, Meow Wolf co-founder and Omega Mart Creative Director Emily Montoya breaks it down for the Los Angeles Times. Omega Mart's face scanners don't work with face masks. So: "We came up with an analog solution," Montoya says. "You hold up a ping-pong paddle with the lower half of a face printed on it, and then it works. Then it perceives you as having a face." An enclosed slide sounds risky, but Montoya says "our facilities team came up with what is basically a sled, with sanitizer mist guns strapped to it. They send it down the slide, on a rope, and it sanitizes the entire surface as it slides down." Opening weekend sold out, but you can buy tickets for future dates here.

Drying out

Today's weather forecast looks sunny and cold, with a high near 36 degrees and wind chill values as low as -1. Saturday should be warmer, with a mostly sunny day, a high near 45 degrees and some wind. Sunday will have a high near 38 degrees. No more snow in the immediate future, but if you have some left in your yard, SFR's food newsletter, The Fork, has some suggestions on how to…eat it.

Thanks for reading! The Word may have spent a little too much time yesterday reading about the cold-stunned Sea Turtles in Texas and the people who are trying to save them from the storm, and the jet stream responsible for all this weird winter weather.