COVID-19 by the numbers
New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 297 new COVID-19 cases—the highest number of new cases since March 5. There have now been a total of 191,945 cases; the health department has designated 173,824 of them as recovered.
Bernalillo County had 112 new cases, followed by Doña Ana County with 51 and Sandoval County with 21. Santa Fe County had 12 new cases.
The state also announced five additional deaths; there have now been 3,942 fatalities. As of yesterday, 96 people were hospitalized with COVID-19.
DOH announces self-serve for COVID-10 vaccine boosters
New Mexicans registered through the health department's vaccineNM.org site can now schedule their own COVID-19 booster shots. The option is available to anyone who has had a first dose either within the state system or without (but requires registration). "Our goal has always been to make registration and vaccination as easy as possible," DOH Cabinet Secretary Dr. Tracie Collins said in a statement. "Given an increase in vaccine supply, we are now able to offer New Mexicans the ability to self-schedule their booster appointments." The state's vaccine dashboard reports 45.9% of New Mexicans have had at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, and 28.8% have been fully inoculated. In Santa Fe County, 44.3% of people have had at least one dose and 24.7% are fully vaccinated. The health department yesterday also launched a stand-alone website with information on the vaccine and testimonials from New Mexicans who have received it.
Council supports $1.8 mil housing outlay
Santa Fe city councilors earlier this week agreed to invest $1.8 million in the city's Affordable Housing Trust Fund—a move driven by the current housing crisis as well as an expected wave of post-COVID evictions. The measure was first introduced earlier this month and will raise the fund up to the recommended $3 million annual sum. Most of the investment—$1.5 million—will come from gross receipt tax revenues, made possible by the city's improved financial situation. The trust will need to spend the money by the end of the fiscal year. "The intention is to deploy the funds as quickly as possible to deflect or mitigate what we see coming before us, which is a huge eviction crisis," Office of Affordable Housing Director Alexandra Ladd said, who added that the city is already working with local nonprofits to identify a second property for a hotel-to-housing conversion modeled on the success of the Santa Fe Suites conversion late last year. The decision to invest directly in the fund represents a sea change for the council, which has never done so before, and follows recommendations by affordable housing advocates, such as the Santa Fe Housing Action Coalition. Mayor Alan Webber said public support for doing so at the city's March 10 budget hearing also played a factor. "We listened and now with this budget adjustment we are responding, taking action," he said.
The race is on
ICYMI, the Democratic State Central Committee on Wednesday elected state Rep. Melanie Stansbury as the party's nominee for the special election to fill the now-vacant seat in the 1st Congressional District, previous held by now Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. Under the party's rules, Stansbury faced off with fellow Albuquerque Democrat state Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez after none of the initial eight candidates exceeded 50% of the first-round vote. Stansbury will now face Republican Mark Moores and Libertarian Chris Manning in the June 1 special election. The race has already intensified with a group of Libertarians filing suit to remove Manning from the ballot. Dems' choice of Stansbury prompted Axios' race and justice reporter Russell Contreras to write a piece titled, "Dems pick white woman over Latinas, Native American for Haaland seat," which speculates that the party's choice of "Stansbury to replace one of the nation's first Native American female U.S. House members could put a relatively safe Democratic seat in play for a special election in the heavily Latino central New Mexico district." The piece itself sparked an interesting thread on Twitter, including a testy exchange with former Lieutenant Gov. Diane Denish.
In its new podcast series, The Wild Files, Outside Online explores "true tales of epic trips, bad luck and the struggle to survive." Why? "Because the most difficult and surprising journeys teach us the greatest lessons." Sounds timely, yes? In the first episode, "Embracing a Fear of Falling," trail runner and Semi-Rad creator Brendan Leonard delves into facing his fears as a climber when he was in his 20s.
All the buzz
Truth be told, this New York Times story yesterday about the Las Cruces man who found 15,000 bees in his car after grocery shopping sounded like more April Fools' nonsense, but it appears to be an actual thing that happened, aka something new to worry about. The unnamed man had stopped at Albertsons for just 10 minutes and was already driving when he noticed the swarm in his back seat. He called 911 (a smarter move than driving off the road screaming). Off-duty fireman and amateur beekeeper Jesse Johnson got the call and showed up to help remove the bees. "I'll do anything to keep people from killing the bees," Johnson said. The job took 20 to 30 minutes. Johnson said it could have been done in five or 10 as bees are apparently "docile" when swarming, but he wanted to take his time. The driver reportedly kept his distance and was worried because he'd borrowed the car from a friend.
Don’t be a drip
While Earth Day won't happen for a few more weeks (April 22), all of April is Earth Month and kicks off the 10th Annual Wyland National Mayor's Challenge for Water Conservation, in which Santa Fe will once again participate. According to a city news release, all April "residents of Santa Fe are invited to make a series of simple pledges at mywaterpledge.com to use water more efficiently, reduce pollution, and save energy." Doing so is fast (we did it and it takes a minute). Participants can win $3,000 toward their home utility payments, water saving fixtures and hundreds of other prizes in daily drawings, and you can also nominate a local charity to receive a 2021 Toyota Highlander Hybrid to serve the community. Nationwide, last year people pledged to reduce annual consumption of water by over 1 billion gallons, with Santa Fe placing fourth in its population category. Needless to say, the city would like to win first place this year. "We love our way of life in Santa Fe, and we want to pass it down to successive generations. That means making sustainability a part of everything we do, especially where water is involved," Mayor Alan Webber said in a statement. "While we have some of the best water conservation rates in the country, challenges like this are about finding ways to get even better, and I know we have it in us." In addition to taking the pledge, residents can also monitor their homes for water leaks with the city's Eye on Water app.
Today's forecast indicates a slight chance of "sprinkles" after 3 pm on an otherwise mostly sunny day, with a high near 68 degrees and east wind 5 to 10 mph becoming west in the afternoon. Another slight chance for "sprinkles" tonight. As for the weekend, it appears sprinkle-free: Saturday will be sunny with a high near 71 degrees and Sunday, aka Easter, will also be sunny with a high near 75 degrees.
Thanks for reading! The Word does not personally believe in astrology, but supports using horoscopes to make book recommendations nonetheless.