COVID-19 by the numbers
New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 174 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total so far to 190,064. The health department has designated 172,924 of those cases as recovered.
Bernalillo County had the highest number of new cases: 75, followed by Doña Ana County with 20 cases and Sandoval County with 17. Santa Fe County had six new cases.
The state also announced 11 additional deaths from seven counties; there have now been 3,903 fatalities. As of yesterday, 127 people were hospitalized with COVID-19.
New Mexico Department of Health Secretary Dr. Tracie C. Collins, Scientific Laboratory Division Director Dr. Michael Edwards and Human Services Department Secretary Dr. David R. Scrase will provide a COVID-19 and vaccine update today at 1 pm, which will stream live on the New Mexico Human Services Department's Facebook page and SFR's website. The news conference will also be streamed with a Spanish language interpreter on Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's YouTube page.
New Mexico counties will be re-evaluated today for case and test positivity rates, with Santa Fe County appearing on track to remain green and, thus, turn turquoise and open up even further. Every other week, the health department evaluates counties' case and test positivity rates for a two-week period under its red-to-green framework. Counties with fewer than eight cases per 100,000 and test positivity rates of less than 5% are classified as green and allowed larger business capacities and other activities. Those meeting one criteria are considered yellow and those meeting neither are red and face the most restrictions. On Feb. 24, the state added an even more expansive turquoise level for those counties that maintain their green status for two consecutive evaluations. Based on an assessment of the raw data provided by the health department, Santa Fe County seems likely to open up even further after today's assessment. For instance, restaurants under the green level can have a maximum of 50% capacity for indoor dining; that will increase to 75% in the turquoise level. Bars and clubs have no indoor capacity under green and 25% of maximum capacity of any outdoor space. Under turquoise, bars and clubs can open at 33% indoors and 75% outdoors. In a significant shift, mass gatherings, limited to 20 people and 120 vehicles under green, increase to 150 people or 200 vehicles at turquoise. Find all the details for the different levels of the public health law here.
Monday's tragic and violent mass shooting in Boulder, Colo., left 10 people dead, including responding Boulder Police Officer Eric Talley, 51, who grew up in Albuquerque. "I am heartbroken and angered by yesterday's shooting in Boulder and deeply saddened to learn that the first responder killed in the line of duty was a son of New Mexico, a graduate of Highland High School," Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said via social media. Variations of the sentiment reverberated through Albuquerque yesterday, and among alumni from the city's Highland High School, from which Talley graduated in 1988. Former Albuquerque resident Kerry O'Bryant tells the Albuquerque Journal he began hearing from former classmates Monday night. "I think one of the recurring themes that I've heard from Eric's friends and our mutual friends is that if there was anyone who was potentially going to be able to go in and defuse a bad situation, it was him—because he was such a lovable person," O'Bryant said. "I know everyone says nice things about somebody after they pass away, but I'm telling you the truth: He was the most liked person in our class. He wasn't necessarily Mr. Jock or Mr. Popularity or whatever, but everybody liked Eric. There was nobody who didn't." Talley, the father of seven children, left a career in information technology in 2010 to become a police officer after one of his closest friends died in a drunk-driving accident.
Check those saved New Mexico phone numbers and make sure they include an area code. The state begins its transition to using 10-digit versus 7-digit numbers next month. The Public Regulation Commission announced the change yesterday, which follows a July 2020 Federal Communications Commission rule designating 988 as a nationwide, three-digit phone number for Americans in crisis. The rule requires all phone service providers to direct all 988 calls to the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by July 16, 2022. Subsequently, any area code using a 988 prefix assigned as a regular telephone number needs to transition to 10-digit local dialing to prevent problems with people reaching the suicide lifeline. Switching to 10-digit calling also prevents the need for people to change their phone numbers, according to the PRC announcement. Starting April 24, the PRC says people should start dialing 10-digits (area code + telephone number) for all local New Mexico calls, although calls will complete with just the seven digits. Starting Oct. 24, calls will require 10 digits and those without will not go through.
Want to hear more about vaccine distribution and ways to contemplate the larger context of limited supply, prioritization and dose-sparing? You're in luck. The Santa Fe Institute recently hosted Daniel Larremore, assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science and the BioFrontiers Institute, as well as a former Omidyar Fellow at SFI, to discuss those questions. The enlightening and accessible talk delves into mathematical and epidemiological models for SARS-CoV-2 transmission, evolution and vaccination, with a focus on the ways in which distribution models can help or hinder broader health equity. In other words: With limited vaccine supply, how can we do the most good? Watch and listen here.
Santa Fe Veterans Hall perseveres
The Washington Post highlights the pandemic's impact on veterans halls, struggling even before the pandemic, with some not surviving forced shut-downs and closing permanently. Those closures, the Post writes, mean veterans in some places have lost spaces critical for their well-being. "They can talk about things here that happened to them in the war that they'd never say to their psychiatrist or even their families," Harold Durr, commander of Santa Fe's American Legion Post 1, tells the Post. But Santa Fe's veterans hall isn't going anywhere, he says. Federal pandemic relief helped pay pay employees' salaries, while donations have covered expenses. "We've had a rough go," Durr, a 75-year-old Navy vet who served in the Vietnam War, says. "But we've got to stay open. We've existed for 100 years. There's no way we can let it close."
At 2 pm today, the Museum of International Folk Art will present a "charla" (chat) with filmmaker Cody Edison on his 2018 award-winning documentary And Those Who Dance it Surrender Their Hearts to Each Other. The documentary focuses on the Northern New Mexico string band Lone Piñon, as the group pays homage to the region's cultural roots. Edison and band members Jordan Wax and Tanya Nuñez will share stories and answer questions during the charla. The online event is being held in conjunction with the two concurrent exhibitions "Música Buena: Hispano Folk Music of New Mexico" in MOIFA's Hispanic Heritage Wing and "Música Buena: Celebrating Music in New Mexico" in the Wonders on Wheels mobile museum. Register here.
Predictions of overnight snow do not appear to have transpired (as best we can tell from this pitch-black morning). But do not abandon hope quite yet. Today's forecast says snow showers remain likely (a 60% chance for overall precipitation) before 3 pm, after which a chance remains for rain showers. Otherwise, it will be cloudy with a high near 41 degrees and "breezy," with an east wind 15 to 25 mph, as well as gusts as high as 35 mph.
Thanks for reading! The Word happily stumbled upon this story about Naiomi Glasses, a Diné skateboarder in the Navajo Nation.