COVID-19 by the numbers
New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 181 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total so far to 192,773. The health department has designated 174,338 of those as recovered. Bernalillo County had 81 cases, followed by Doña Ana County with 25 and Sandoval County with 13.
Santa Fe County had six new cases and, according to SFR's napkin math, appears on track to continue meeting both criteria in the state's red-to-green COVID-19 framework update today, which would mean remaining "turquoise," with the least restrictions available under the public health law.
The state also announced eight additional deaths; there have now been 3,960 fatalities. As of yesterday, 82 people were hospitalized with COVID-19.
Currently, 48.2% of eligible New Mexicans have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 30.8% are fully vaccinated. A health department news release yesterday said 99% of people in Phase 1 of the state's vaccination plan have received invitations for vaccinations. Phase 2—any New Mexican 16 years and older—began Monday. The state also is encouraging people who have had a first dose already to update their vaccine registrations and to self-schedule their booster shots.
New Mexico Department of Health Secretary Dr. Tracie C. Collins, Human Services Department Secretary Dr. David Scrase and Aging and Long-Term Services Secretary Katrina Hotrum-Lopez will provide a COVID-19 and vaccine update at 1 pm today, which will stream live on the New Mexico Human Services Department's Facebook page, SFR's homepage, and stream with Spanish language interpreter on Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's YouTube page.
Soaring real estate prices hinder locals
Santa Fe real estate prices continue to rise, with out-of-state buyers creating even more competition over limited inventory. According to the Santa Fe Association of Realtors, median home prices rose to $560,000 in the first quarter of 2021, a 22% jump from a year ago and a new record. Within city limits, the median home price rose 9.5% year-over-year for the same time period. The number of available houses declined to a record low. Prices in areas of the city with historically more affordable housing also have risen, making it challenging for residents to qualify for adequate financing, real estate agents say. "I've seen sellers say, 'I'd like to get $390,000,' and a week later they are under contract for $450,000," SFAR Board President Roger Carson, an agent at Keller Williams Realty Santa Fe, tells the Santa Fe New Mexican. "It changes the flavor of who lives here. We're seeing more out-of-state people." Coldwell Banker Trails West broker/owner Beverly Chapman says local buyers are having to forego home inspections, take on sellers' closing costs and have ample cash to be competitive. "If you have a loan, you will probably lose out to someone with cash," she says. SFAR's statement on quarterly indicators notes that "existing home seller and new construction activity remains well below levels necessary for housing supply to come into balance with demand, so expect the soaring housing market to continue unabated in the coming months."
Gov signs tax breaks, redistricting bills
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham yesterday signed another 50 bills as Friday's deadline for action on legislation passed in the last regular session—which ended March 20—approaches. The governor's office highlighted enactment of House Bill 291, which expands the Low-Income Comprehensive Tax Rebate and the Working Families Tax Credit, both making more New Mexicans eligible for the benefits and increasing those benefits. "After decades of unfairness in the tax code and one of the toughest financial years on record, this $100 million per year relief bill implements proven poverty reduction programs that will uplift our low-income communities," lead sponsor Rep. Javier Martínez, D-Albuquerque, said in a statement. "By creating a fairer tax system that allows hardworking New Mexicans to keep more of their hard-earned dollars, we are making a direct investment not only in New Mexico's families but also in our local economies." Lujan Grisham also signed Senate Bill 304, which essentially overhauls the state's redistricting process, creating a seven-member committee that will propose three maps for New Mexico's congressional and legislative districts. All told, the governor has signed 117 bills and vetoed one, and has 40 more to go, including high profile legislation that would: require businesses to provide sick leave; allow citizens to file civil rights lawsuits in state court; and allow aid-in-dying for the terminally ill.
SFPD ID shooting victim
Santa Fe Police yesterday identified one of two victims from the April 5 shooting at the South Capitol Rail Runner Station, but continue to seek information on the suspect. SFPD said the homicide victim was 24-year-old David Hernandez, while the second shooting victim, a 38-year-old-male, remains unnamed and in critical condition at a local hospital. SFPD Capt. Anthony Tapia declined to identify the surviving victim, though families of both men have been notified. Citing an active investigation, he also wouldn't say how many times and where each victim was shot, and wouldn't reveal whether police have any suspects. Detectives have determined the shooter was on foot on the uncrowded platform before he opened fire on Hernandez and the second man, Tapia tells SFR. Law enforcement is still investigating whether there were multiple guns or shooters and if nearby surveillance cameras caught the crime. Anyone with information on the incident should contact Detective Rebecca Hilderbrandt at 505-955-5265 or SFPD at 505-428-3710. Nearby employee Leo Schwenn, who called 911 and rendered aid to the victims, described the suspect to the Santa Fe New Mexican as having "poofy, curly hair," and said he had both a gun and a knife and was pacing by the bodies. "He went to his car, then back to the bench where the dead guy was, then back to his car, and then he took off," Schwenn said. Hernandez's death was the city's fifth homicide of the year.
Did you know sandhill cranes fly north overhead each spring in Northern New Mexico? Did you know they don't have vocal cords? Rather, they have something called a syrinx, which allows them to make sounds more akin to whistles. KSFR's Deborah Begel talks with Leonard Gannes, head of Santa Fe Community College's Biological and Physical Sciences Department and a long-time student of bird migration about these beguiling birds (yes, sounds are part of the show).
Pretty in gloom
For some of us, it's never too early to think about Zozobra. And so it is: This week the The Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe launches its annual call for artists for the official 2021 Zozobra Adult and Student Poster and T-shirt images. While the COVID-19 pandemic brought the Zozobra Decades Project to a temporary halt last year, it's back for 2021 (Sept. 3 to be exact), so prepare for a full-on '80s Zozobra. Submissions for both poster and T-shirt images are due by 5 pm, April 30. Images must be primarily of Zozobra, natch. Find specs and entry forms here. Both are open to all artists and all ages. "Everyone in Santa Fe wants to be involved in Zozobra," Zozobra Event Chairman Ray Sandoval said in a news release. "What better way is there than an art contest for New Mexico artists, the young and young at heart, to create their vision of Santa Fe's favorite malcontent for our official 2021 adult and student posters and T-shirts." A panel of judges will judge the entries.
Our enduring appeal
As you may have noticed, Santa Fe ranks high as a popular visitor destination, and it appears a 2021 tourism season is in the offing. So says Condé Nast in a story published yesterday: "Leaning Into the High-Desert Charm of Santa Fe." The piece provides tips for travelers that include the first-time visitor must-sees, such as the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum and Canyon Road, but also makes note of don't-miss staples such as SITE Santa Fe and IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts. The story recommends both the Santa Fe Farmers' Market and the Santa Fe School of Cooking for food experiences, along with restaurants Modern General Feed and Seed, Paper Dosa and Zacatlán, to name a few. As for accommodations: the Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi, Inn of the Turquoise Bear and newly restored Bishop's Lodge all make the list.
Gone with the wind
If you're wondering when the wind might die down, the answer, as of now, is Saturday. Today, on the other hand, will be sunny with a high near 69 degrees and northwest wind 15 to 20 mph increasing to 25 to 30 mph in the afternoon, with winds potentially gusting as high as 40 mph.
Thanks for reading! As may be obvious, The Word has no love for The Wind, but sort of loved reading "A Brief Eerie History of How the Wind Makes Us Crazy."