COVID-19 by the numbers
New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 166 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total so far to 185,297. The health department has designated 147,446 of those cases as recovered. Of the state's 33 counties, 21 had reported new cases: 55 in Bernalillo County, followed by Doña Ana County with 38 and Sandoval County with 10. Santa Fe County had two new cases.
The state also announced 13 additional deaths; there have now been 3,729 fatalities. As of yesterday, 186 people were hospitalized with COVID-19.
Sen. Wirth loses temper
Tensions rose at the Roundhouse yesterday after Sen. Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque, asked for "a call of the Senate," requiring all members be physically present at the Roundhouse. Candelaria planned the move, he said via Twitter, after Senate Democrats refused amendments on Senate Bill 71, the Patients' Debt Collection Protection Act. Candelaria then announced on social media that in response, Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, told him to sod off, except instead of using the word "sod," Wirth allegedly dropped the f-bomb and then everyone's heads exploded. OK, not the last part, but Wirth, generally known for even-temperedness rather than hurling profanity, doesn't appear to be denying the interaction, although a spokesman said he wouldn't be commenting on its specifics. The conflict wasn't the first between Wirth and Candelaria: the latter resigned in 2018 as the Senate's caucus chairman, saying at the time he did so due to disagreements between himself and Wirth.
Egolf denounces “veiled threats”
Meanwhile, yesterday on the House floor, state Rep. Daymon Ely, D-Corrales, and House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, castigated New Mexico Counties President and Otero County Assessor Steve Boyle for an email Boyle wrote regarding Egolf's law firm's history of suing government agencies and an alleged ethics dispute about his sponsorship of a proposed Civil Rights Act, which would eliminate some barriers to such suits. "Why doesn't this surprise me," Boyle's email says. "Another democrat getting rich off of the people rather than serving them. This is why New Mexico fights an uphill battle all the time. If I had a list, he would be on it." The last line prompted censure from Ely and Egolf, and a statement from the latter, which reads in part: "The use of veiled threats by the President of New Mexico Counties is unacceptable. These threats echo the violent rhetoric and incitement of violence that has invaded public discourse nationwide. This and other fear tactics by the counties to foment opposition towards the New Mexico Civil Rights Act amount to nothing less than bullying and intimidation. I call on New Mexico Counties President Steve Boyle to retract these dangerous words and tone down the rhetoric, and for the board and staff of New Mexico Counties to take appropriate action." Boyle told the Albuquerque Journal he didn't mean the message as a threat and had, in fact, sent a follow-up message in which he acknowledged his language had been inappropriate.
Station to station
After a year of suspended service, the New Mexico Rail Runner Express plans to resume service March 8, operating at a reduced schedule of five trips a day at 25% capacity. Rio Metro Regional Transit District spokeswoman Augusta Meyers tells SFR officials planned the limited schedule—which will accommodate weekday workers—based on peak boarding and de-embarking data. Weekend service remains suspended. Other COVID-19 safety measures include: no cash sales; on-train security to ensure safety guidelines such as mask wearing; signage enforcing social distancing; and on-board hand sanitizer. Passengers also will return to a new $60 million federally mandated safety system installed last year, which operators have been testing out during the shutdown.
An early bird March 5 deadline approaches for the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival, which will take place Oct. 13-17 (May 5 is the regular deadline). Santa Fe Independent Film Festival Artistic Director Jacques Paisner talks with MK Mendoza, host of KSFR's Wake Up Call, show about what to expect from the 2021 festival.
Northern New Mexico author Jamie Figueroa will discuss her debut novel Brother, Sister, Mother, Explorer at 6 pm tonight via a virtual event from Collected Works Bookstore (register here). The novel tells the story of two siblings who return to their hometown of Ciudad de Tres Hermanas after their mother's passing, taking on a bet that they can make money performing for tourists on the local plaza. In so doing, they "reckon with generational and ancestral trauma, set against the indignities of present-day prejudice" as "other strange hauntings begin to stalk these pages." Figueroa, who received an MFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts, will discuss her book with former State Historian Estevan Rael-Gálvez. Figueroa's writing has appeared in Epoch, Yellow Medicine Review, Sin Fronteras, McSweeney's and other publications.
NM pop quiz
NPR's Ask Me Another program recently quizzed Modern Family star and New Mexico native Jessie Tyler Ferguson, co-author with chef Julie Tanous of a new cookbook, Food Between Friends, which includes lots of local flavor, as well as hybrids of New Mexico and Southern cuisine in a nod to Tanous' roots. The show's hosts chose to test Ferguson on New Mexico trivia, asking him to identify as true or false various bits of New Mexico lore. Spoiler alert: New Mexico's northwest corner is the only place in the country where four states touch each other (aka the Four Corners), but we are not home to the world's largest peanut. And unbeknown to us, Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston had to beg fans to stop throwing pizzas off the roof of the house where his character lived in homage to a scene from that show.
Today will be sunny with a high near 56 degrees and north wind around 10 mph becoming west in the afternoon. Temps head into the 60s tomorrow, with some potential rain starting Wednesday night into Thursday.
Thanks for reading! Despite her lack of interest in astrology, The Word read this entire story recommending books based on Zodiac signs.