COVID-19 by the numbers
New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 647 new COVID-19 cases reported over a three-day period (the weekend and Monday), bringing the statewide total so far to 193,987. The health department has designated 175,380 of those cases as recovered. Bernalillo County had 227 cases over the reporting period, followed by Doña Ana County with 83 and San Juan County with 75. Santa Fe County had 17 new cases and has now had 9,924 cases all together, 9,358 of which have been designated as recovered.
The state also announced three additional deaths. There have now been 3,979 fatalities. As of yesterday, 101 people were hospitalized with COVID-19.
Currently, 52.7% of New Mexicans 16 years and older have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 34.8% are fully vaccinated. In Santa Fe County, 51.8% have had at least one dose and 32.5 % are fully inoculated.
Gov signs cannabis bills
In a windy outdoor ceremony yesterday afternoon, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed two cannabis bills recently passed by the Legislature: one setting up the regulatory and legal framework for adult-use cannabis, and another to expunge criminal records related to past possession and potentially release people currently incarcerated for low-level cannabis offenses. "This is a celebration," Lujan Grisham said before putting pen to paper. "Cannabis is another game changer. It is good for workers; it is good for entrepreneurs; it is good for consumers; and it brings about social justice in ways that we have been talking about and advocating for for decades." The state estimates sales from the new industry could bring in $318 million in the first year and, over several years, create more than 11,000 new jobs. According to the governor's office, preliminary estimates project the excise tax will raise at least $20 million for the general fund in the first full fiscal year. As for when, the Cannabis Regulation Act will regulate the sales of cannabis starting no later than April 2022; reviews of currently incarcerated individuals must be done within 30 days of the effective bill date, and prior conviction reviews must happen by Jan. 1, 2022. Drug Policy Alliance Senior Director of Resident States and New Mexico Emily Kaltenbach, who has worked closely on this issue for many years, described the law's passage of the law as hard fought. "Everyone went to the mat to make sure that equity and justice and public health, safeties and protections for medical cannabis patients were front and center in their legislation," she said. "I think today New Mexicans can finally exhale."
Carjacking ends in second train station shooting
Santa Fe Police say a carjacking yesterday morning at the NM 599 Rail Runner Station ended with a 73-year-old man being shot in the face. As of yesterday afternoon, the victim remained in critical condition at University of New Mexico Hospital. Police recovered the victim's stolen Black 2020 Chrysler 300 Monday afternoon in Albuquerque, following a tip. The shooting follows last week's shooting at the Rail Runner's South Capitol Station, which killed 24-year-old David Hernandez, and left another man, Elijo Trujillo, in critical condition. In that shooting, SFPD arrested and charged 22-year-old Matthew Arellano. In yesterday's carjacking and shooting, police have not yet named the victim nor identified a suspect. Rio Metro Regional Transit Communications Manager Augusta Meyers tells the Albuquerque Journal a second shooting in one week after 15 years with no such incidents has prompted the agency to consider adding more security at its stations. SFPD asks anyone with information to contact Detective Rebecca Hilderbrandt at 505-955-5265.
Sen. Luján invites Buttigieg to NM space launch
US Sen. Ben Ray Luján, D-NM, has invited former presidential candidate and US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg to visit New Mexico for one of Virgin Galactic's upcoming launches of its SpaceShipTwo, expected to begin this summer. After noting New Mexico's traditional infrastructure needs (trains, planes, roads for automobiles), Luján also notes New Mexico's "growing space infrastructure," writing: "The expansion of commercial space exploration holds huge promise and benefits for our country. It will help support government-backed research and programs, provide a platform to conduct cutting edge research and lend inspiration to the next generation of engineers, scientists, artists and mathematicians. I am also optimistic that the launches you will see out of the state this year will support the expansion of commercial space tourism, R&D, and operations in New Mexico, which all starts with Spaceport America." Virgin Galactic's summer launches this summer, Luján writes, "will make New Mexico only the third state ever to have sent humans to space. This effort will not only set the stage for a high cadence of future commercial spaceflights, but it will also highlight the full private astronaut experience Virgin Galactic has created."
The invitation comes as President Joe Biden launches discussions with Congress about his $2.25 trillion infrastructure and jobs plan. Yesterday, the White House released fact sheets describing each state's infrastructure needs. In the case of New Mexico, those include 207 bridges and over 3,822 miles of highway in poor condition; 126,000 renters in the state who are rent-burdened (aka, they spend more than 30% of their income on rent); and 22% of New Mexico residents live in areas where, by one definition, there is no broadband infrastructure that provides minimally acceptable speeds, and 68.9% live in areas where there is only one such internet provider.
Tonight at 6 pm, the Center for Contemporary Arts and the Santa Fe Public Library will host local award-winning author and historian Johnny Boggs and Rambo creator David Morrell to discuss the history of the American Western on screen, in conjunction with the National Endowment for the Arts' Big Read program. "I'm the generation from when Westerns were popular," Morell tells SFR. "Some of the first films I saw were The Last Wagon and The Searchers in their original runs. It was the formative genre for me. When I became a novelist, a lot of my references came from that. When I wrote First Blood, I imagined it as a kind of Western." Register for the free Zoom event here.
Keep on truckin’
A New Mexico truck stop ranked in the top 10 for a USA Today roundup on, yes, truck stops to consider on a road trip. Russell's Truck & Travel Center in Glenrio, New Mexico (also sometimes spelled Glen Rio, such as on the truck stop's website). First, the town itself straddles New Mexico and Texas and is, at least according to the internet, a ghost town on historic Route 66. According to USA Today, Russell's Truck Stop "…lures travelers with a free vintage car museum. Its old-fashioned diner serves classics like chicken-fried steak, burrito plates and all-you-can-eat fried catfish platters. "This is one of my favorites," Steven Lopez of Trucker Path says. "It's a must-see for anyone hauling through New Mexico."
Exploring the CLOE project
At 3 pm today, the Santa Fe Historic Foundation will present its April Salon El Zaguán with Victor Yamada, who has led many key project activities in the New Mexico Japanese American Citizens League, on the Confinement in Land of Enchantment project. The multi-year CLOE project aims to reach a wide and diverse audience in New Mexico and nationally in order to educate the public about the history of Japanese Americans' internment in New Mexico, and inspire thought and conversation. The project also includes research of sites in Santa Fe, Lordsburg, Old Raton Ranch (Baca Camp) and Fort Stanton, with later phases looking to create markers at these sites; build a project website; and organize a traveling exhibition, among other goals. The program is free to members and $10 to non-members; register here.
Today will be mostly sunny, with a high near 66 degrees and a breezy southeast wind 15 to 25 mph, with gusts as high as 35 mph. Tonight brings another slight (20%) chance for showers. Overall, temps will stay in the high 60s for the rest of the week and begin to dip into the 50s and bring chances for rain and snow this weekend.
Thanks for reading! The Word had not heard of the man who spent 89 days in O’Hare Airport because he was afraid of flying during the pandemic until she read it in the April Harper’s Index (from which she also learned the surprising statistic that only 44% of adults “would choose to know about future events if they were favorable.”)