COVID-19 by the numbers
New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 685 new COVID-19 cases over the three-day reporting period of May 1-3. Those cases bring the statewide total so far 198,372; the health department has designated 183,656 of those cases as recovered. Bernalillo County had 228 new cases, followed by San Juan County with 119 and Doña Ana County with 54. Santa Fe County had 30 new cases.
The state also announced six additional deaths; there have now been 4,073 fatalities. As of yesterday, 132 people were hospitalized with COVID-19—13 fewer than Friday.
Currently, 58.5% of New Mexicans have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 44.5% are fully vaccinated. In Santa Fe County, more than half of residents are now fully vaccinated: 50.1%, to be exact. And 69.2% have had at least one dose.
Intel, state announce $3.5 bil expansion
Intel announced yesterday it plans to invest $3.5 billion in its Rio Rancho plant and hire more than 700 new workers as it modernizes its facilities to accommodate its new “advanced 3D packaging” Foveros technology. The expansion will also support 1,000 construction jobs and an additional 3,500 jobs in the state. The governor’s office says the recent expansion of the state Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) “solidified” the Intel expansion. The bill allows for a portion of construction-related gross receipts tax to be rebated back to companies for large, significant, job-creating projects. The state expects the GRT on this project to total $14 million with both state and local sharing, and the state has pledged $5 million from its regular LEDA fund, which will be paid out after Intel meets specific economic development goals. Sandoval County has pledged an additional $500,000, which carries specific job goal requirements, and will serve as the fiscal agent for the project. “With this exciting development, we are already seeing the benefits of this year’s legislation expanding LEDA, generating high-quality and high-paying jobs for New Mexicans,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement. “The state and Intel have a 40-year partnership, and today, with innovative economic development tools and global demand for this technology, we can celebrate a new generation of workers and job growth at Intel’s New Mexico manufacturing plant.”
Champion racer Bobby Unser dies at 87
Racing legend Bobby Unser died Sunday at the age of 87 at his New Mexico home, leaving behind a personal and dynastic legacy in the state and beyond. “New Mexicans were proud to call him one of our own,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement. “The Unser family has left an undeniable footprint on the New Mexico community.” Unser won the Indianapolis 500 three times: in 1968, 1975 and 1981, one of just 10 drivers to do so, according to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which announced Unser’s death yesterday in a news release that details his long and accomplished career. He was one of six members of the Unser family to race in the Indianapolis 500; he and his brother Al, a four-time winner, are the only brothers to have ever won the race. Unser’s family moved to Albuquerque when he was 1 year old, and he began racing at Roswell Speedway in 1949 and, the following year, raced at Speedway Park in Albuquerque and won his first championship in Southwestern Modified Stock Cars. After serving in the US Air Force from 1953-55, Unser and his brothers Jerry and Al decided to pursue racing careers in United States Auto Club competition.
Lawmakers clash over agenda
Republican lawmakers yesterday tried to keep the first Legislative Council meeting of the year from ending as they clashed with Democratic leaders over the meeting’s agenda. House Republican leaders say they wrote to House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, and Senate President Pro Tem Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque—the committee’s co-chairs—last month requesting a discussion of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s veto of a spending plan for $1.1 billion in federal funds. “I think at the very least we need to have a discussion about this,” Republican Whip Rep. Rod Montoya of Farmington said at the end of yesterday’s meeting. “If we’re not going to deal with it today, I would like to once again formally request that we bring this up in our upcoming Legislative Council meeting.” Egolf said he would consult with Stewart about including the issue on a future meeting’s agenda, but didn’t set a specific date. Republicans then tried, and failed, to vote to put the issue on the next council meeting’s agenda. “This is total abuse of power,” House Minority Leader Rep. Jim Townsend of Artesia said in a statement afterward. “We requested that the Governor’s vetoes be discussed weeks ago, to protect the separation of powers, yet the Speaker has gone out of his way to not only ignore the request, but also deny the public justice in the billions that Lujan Grisham is blocking from being spent.”
On the most recent episode of New Mexico In Focus from NM PBS, correspondent Antonia Gonzales speaks with President Biden’s top tribal affairs adviser, PaaWee Rivera, son of former Pojoaque Pueblo Governor George Rivera, who is working to advance Native interests as tribal communities emerge from the pandemic. The episode also features a Line panel discussion of recent US census data and legislative analysis showing New Mexico’s slow population growth, among other topics.
Library launches laptop lending program
The Santa Fe Public Library launches its Tech Connect program today, which will make laptops and hotspots available to check out for free to SFPL cardholders 18 and older (with SFPL library card, photo ID and proof of a Santa Fe County address). Laptops and hotspots can be checked out for two weeks and must be returned to a staff member at the library branch from which they are borrowed. Two Express Checkout laptops at each location can be used for up to one hour within the vicinity of the library. The program is free, but users will be charged for late, damaged, lost or stolen equipment, and borrowers must sign an agreement assuming full responsibility for the equipment and any accessories. To place a hold on a laptop and/or hotspot, call the Main Library at 955-6785; La Farge: 955-4860; or the Southside branch at 955-2810.
Outdoor Equity Fund open for apps
Now in its second year, New Mexico’s Outdoor Equity Fund began accepting applications yesterday, with four times as much funding—$860,000—available than it had last year. Created alongside the state’s Outdoor Recreation Division, the equity fund supports programs geared at providing equitable access to the outdoors. Last year’s recipients included the Mil Abrazos Community Land Trust to educate and train a new generation of parciantes, commissioners and mayordomos; Hermit’s Peak Watershed Alliance, for a youth outdoor recreation program focused on long-lasting revitalization effort of the Gallinas river; and the Silver Stallion’s Mobile Bike Center, a van-based bike shop that drove around the Navajo Nation repairing hundreds of kids’ bikes. Applications for this year’s grant must be received by 5 pm, June 30. Read more here. Apply here. “The first-of-its-kind Outdoor Equity Fund now has more than four times the funding to award in 2021, enabling us to meet the phenomenal demand we saw for the grant last year,” ORD’s first director, Axie Navas, said in a news release. “This innovative program will get thousands of young New Mexicans outside over the next 18 months. They’ll fly-fish, hunt, ride bikes, go birding, ride ATVs and much more.”
Forecasts call for a 20% chance of showers before 9 am today, and mostly cloudy thereafter, but gradually becoming sunny with a high near 63 degrees and south wind 5 to 15 mph becoming west in the afternoon.