COVID-19 by the numbers

New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 247 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total so far to 185,542. The health department has designated 148,641 of those cases as recovered. Bernalillo County had 100 cases, followed by Doña Ana County with 36 and Sandoval County with 18. Santa Fe County had nine cases.

The state also announced 11 additional deaths; there have now been 3,740 fatalities. As of yesterday, 199 people were hospitalized with COVID-19.

Health Secretary Dr. Tracie Collins and Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase will provide an update on COVID-19 and vaccination efforts today at 1 pm on New Mexico Human Services Department's Facebook page.

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.

NM Gov talks vaccines, politics

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham spoke with the Washington Post yesterday about New Mexico's vaccine distribution—the state has remained consistently in the top 3 for the percentage of vaccines it has administered—discussing the county-level framework for adjusting restrictions; the health department's nascent equity plan; as well as the need for better coordination with the federal government to distribute vaccines to tribal communities. Washington Post reporter Eugene Scott also asked the governor, who serves as chair of the Democratic Governors Association, whether the DGA would be releasing a statement about mounting calls for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign in the wake of sexual harassment allegations. Lujan Grisham said she anticipated DGA would be commenting on the situation. "We have to take seriously all these allegations," she said. "I'm frankly in that group of elected leaders that you believe the individual. You give…credibility there. If you don't, we're re-victimizing brave men and women who come forward." Earlier this week, the Republican Governors Association kicked off what a news release says will be a five-figure digital ad campaign targeting Lujan Grisham.

To run or not to run?

The Albuquerque Journal reports that various people are wondering if Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber plans to run for re-election come November (The Word also can confirm various people seem to be wondering this). His decision will likely impact the number of candidates in the coming election, as he significantly out-raised his opponents in the 2018 race. That impact could result in a two-way race—rather than ranked-choice voting—a prospect Santa Fe Public Schools Board President Kate Noble, who ran against Webber, says should be avoided. "I'm concerned that we are heading for a two-person, us-or-them, type of election," Noble said. Supporter JoAnn Balzer said Webber recently reached out to see if she would support him the second time around if he chose to run, and she said she would. As for Webber himself, he's yet to say what he's doing, but told the Journal an update is coming soon.

Judge: Criminal charges warranted in obelisk case

Santa Fe County Magistrate John Rysanek ruled yesterday that two criminal charges against Santa Fe gallery owner Stephen Fox, 73, filed in the October destruction of the Plaza obelisk should be prosecuted in District Court. Rysanek found probable cause for the two fourth-degree felony charges levied against Fox: criminal damage to property over $1,000, and conspiracy to commit criminal damage to property over $1,000. A petty misdemeanor charge against Fox of unlawful assembly also will be prosecuted in district court. Fox faces up to 3 1/2 years in prison if convicted of all three charges. "I'd like to remind everyone that the standard of probable cause is the lowest standard in the judicial system," Fox's attorney, Marcus Lucero, said, noting that "We are still working to preserve Mr. Fox's rights and looking forward to his day in District Court on these charges."

Spaceport Authority names new director

The New Mexico Spaceport Authority's board of directors yesterday announced it had appointed Scott A. McLaughlin as Spaceport America's executive director. McLaughlin has been serving as interim director since last July, after former Executive Director Dan Hicks was placed on leave following allegations of mismanagement and abusing his power (a subsequent state audit codified those complaints and Hicks was let go permanently). "Scott brings deep knowledge and extensive experience to the management of New Mexico's Spaceport America," Economic Development Secretary Alicia J. Secretary Keyes said in a statement. "He has proven himself as a skilled administrator who can collaborate with employees, the state and our innovative business partners to ensure Spaceport America operates safely and continues to drive job growth in Southern New Mexico."

Listen up

Catch up on a new podcast from New Mexico State University's Black Programs: Black Excellence in Higher Education, launched in February for Black History month. Co-hosted by Black Program Interim Director Kimberly York and Ignacio Alvarado, the program's student engagement specialist, the podcast's goal is to serve "as a bridge that connects students with Black faculty and staff," and provide a platform to showcase their work. "I think it's really impactful to, you know, as a person of color, to meet other people like me who are leading in higher education, who are employees in a university and know the system, and can assist me and even be a mentor to me," Alvarado said in a news release on the program.

City: Southside rec center has its funding

The City of Santa Fe announced yesterday it will break ground by early fall for a new 17,000-square-foot multi-use Southside Teen Center, which it expects to open in fall 2022. According to a news announcement, the state released $3.9 million in funding last week that was appropriated last year for the project, which will be located across from the Southside Public Library and adjacent to the Boys & Girls Club, and in District 3. "A teen center has been much needed on the Southside where most of our children live and play," District 3 Councilor Chris Rivera said in a statement. "I'm thankful to all involved for helping to make this a reality." Teens were surveyed regarding potential uses for the space and prioritized: a gym; game room; arts and crafts space; a dance and performance studio; and an outdoor sports area/soccer field. The building also will be LEED-certified Silver; the city anticipates soliciting construction bids in late spring or early summer.

You gotta read this

Make time for this Outside Magazine long-read from author and Santa Fe resident Hampton Sides: "We Had Marlon Brando's Island Utopia to Ourselves." Sides—a contributing editor at Outside (and board member for SFR's nonprofit partner)—tells the tale of traveling to Tetiaroa atoll, celebrity paradise and home of what he describes as the world's "most exclusive eco-resort," the Brando. "Yes, Brando, as in that Brando: the greatest actor of his generation; the Oscar-winning star of such landmark films as On the Waterfront, The Godfather, and Apocalypse Now. Marlon Brando bought this atoll in 1967, and for the rest of his life it remained his abiding love and fondest obsession," Sides writes. Sides went there just before COVID-19 shut down the world to meet with the scientists who also gather at Tetiaroa—another one of Brando's legacies. "His dream for Tetiaroa is our dream," Frank Murphy, executive director of the Tetiaroa Society, tells Sides. "We've just carried on, in agreement with Marlon's ideas."

World view

The Santa Fe Council on International Relations hosts two talks this week focused on issues of international interest. At 5 pm today, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and Washington Post national security reporter Joby Warrick will discuss his book, Red Line: The Unraveling of Syria and America's Race to Destroy the Most Dangerous Arsenal in the World, in a talk moderated by CIR board member Jim Falk and presented in partnership with the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth (tickets are free, but registration required). At 10 am on Thursday, Bloomberg Editor-in-chief John Micklethwait and Economist columnist Adrian Wooldridge chew over their book, The Wake-Up Call: Why the Pandemic Has Exposed the Weakness of the West, and How to Fix It. (Tickets are $10; register here).

Right as rain

Today will be sunny with a high near 60 degrees and north wind approximately 10 mph becoming southwest in the afternoon. We have a 30% chance of showers tonight, primarily after 11 pm, and those would be rain showers, which could continue into Thursday morning, accompanied by thunder.

Thanks for reading! The Word respects science, but didn't need a scientific study to believe most conversations don't end when people wish they would.