COVID-19 by the numbers
New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 570 new COVID-19 cases over the course of May 8-10, bringing the statewide total so far to 199,901, and likely to surpass 200,000 today. Of the current cases, the health department has designated 185,033 as recovered.
Bernalillo County had 157 new cases over the three-day reporting period, followed closely by San Juan County with 154 and Doña Ana County with 41. Santa Fe County had 20 new cases.
The state also announced eight additional deaths, one recent: a man in his 70s from Doña Ana County. The other seven deaths took place more than 30 days ago, according to a health department news release; Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase said during last week’s news conference that the Office of the Medical Investigator has been working through a backlog of cases resulting in delayed complete reporting of COVID-19 deaths. There have now been 4,106 total fatalities. As of yesterday, 143 people were hospitalized with COVID-19.
Currently, 60% of New Mexicans have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine—just over one million doses—and 48% are fully vaccinated. In Santa Fe County, 70.8% have had at least one dose and 56.9% are fully inoculated, the seventh highest full inoculation rate in the state. Los Alamos County ranks first, with 66.6% fully vaccinated, and Roosevelt County ranks last with 24.4%.
Following the US Food and Drug Administration’s approval yesterday of the Pfizer vaccine for administration to 12- to 15-year-olds, New Mexico’s health department announced it would begin registration for that age group after it also receives full approval by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the state’s own Medical Advisory Team. Vaccinations for New Mexicans under age 18 require parental consent, and Pfizer is the only vaccine available for people in that age group. SFR asked the health department for the state’s estimate on how many 12- to 15-year-olds New Mexico has, but had not received a response by this morning. According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation Kids Count Data Center, in 2019, 18% of the state’s population was between the ages of 12 and 14.
Feds: $1.75 billion coming to NM
The US Treasury Department yesterday announced the launch of the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act’s recovery funds, which will provide $350 billion in emergency funding for state, local, territorial and Tribal governments. In the case of New Mexico, that’s approximately $1.75 billion—more than anticipated. The treasury department also provided details on how the funds can be used, an issue that has been in play in New Mexico after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham vetoed legislators’ plans for the funds, sparking disputes regarding who has authority over the money. The governor’s spokeswoman, Nora Meyers Sackett, while not addressing that issue in comments yesterday, said the office is reviewing the guidelines, but said the state’s Unemployment Insurance fund remains a top priority, “as does supplementing lost revenue for state agencies, in addition to focusing on behavioral health, broadband and the recovery of economic drivers like the tourism and hospitality industry.” Meanwhile, the City of Santa Fe’s economy also is faring better than expected. At a news conference yesterday, city staff said taxable gross receipts for February surpassed pre-pandemic levels for the first time, coming in at $261.4 million. That’s 9.1% higher than February 2020 and 4.4% higher than 2018, and translates to a $48,306 increase in GRT revenue compared to last year.
PED cites progress on internet access
The Public Education Department responded yesterday to a late April 30 ruling by District Judge Matthew Wilson, which decreed the state must provide digital resources to students. The ruling built on a 2018 court decision in the Yazzie/Martinez v. State of New Mexico lawsuit, in which the court ordered the state to ensure all students receive an adequate education. Lawyers for the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty had returned to court on behalf of the Yazzie plaintiffs to ask the court to order the state to provide internet access to the same end. The state says the ruling accelerated work already underway. “We don’t need a court order to do what’s right for New Mexico students,” PED Secretary Ryan Stewart said in a statement. “We’ve been working on solutions for our students who are impacted by a lack of resources, including electricity and other needs that go beyond just the classroom.” The state cites numerous initiatives it has undertaken or completed, including: distributing 6,282 Chromebooks to students who had no digital devices; adding 1,250 WiFi hotspots; and providing an updated map to help New Mexicans find the nearest hotspots. The court also ordered the state to identify at-risk students and their teachers who lack digital access. PED says it launched a data collection system last week to do so.
State awards outdoor biz accelerator grants
Yesterday, the state Outdoor Recreation Division announced the three recipients for its 2021 Outdoor Recreation Division Business Accelerator Grants, chosen from among 14 applications aimed at growing New Mexico’s outdoor recreation industry, with each receiving a $20,000 award. New Mexico for Good, housed in the University of New Mexico’s Anderson School of Management, will offer certificate programs and pilot two courses: Introduction to the Outdoor Economy and Validating an Outdoor Recreation Business Idea. Sandoval County, in partnership with the nonprofit Creative Startups, will be using a pilot project undertaken over the last year to accelerate the county’s outdoor and leisure businesses’ use of online sales and marketing tools and platforms. And Arrowhead Center at New Mexico State University proposed an Outdoor Recreation Sprint business accelerator, which will focus on starting and growing outdoor recreation businesses in the southern part of the state.
May’s Augmented Humanity podcast kicks off a month of programming with the artists behind the University of New Mexico’s exhibition and project There Must be Other Names for the River. Dylan McLaughlin, Marisa Demarco and Jessica Zeglin discuss the interactive visual and sound experience, which guides visitors along the length of the Rio Grande where they hear songs emerge from points along its 1,800 miles.
Stop and smell the yellow Nuttall’s violets
Flowering cacti. Western dog violets. Rusby’s primrose. Spring flowers in New Mexico enhance our remarkable landscape with pockets of color and textures unlike anywhere else (well, anywhere else we can summon to mind). New Mexico Magazine offers five hikes best for taking in spring wildflowers, along with tips on when to go and how much effort the hike will require. An easy one to add to the books ASAP: La Vista Verde Trail in Carson (approximately 62 miles away), described by the magazine as a “high-desert, open-sky trail” that “leads to stunning views and possible bighorn sheep encounters on the southern edge of the Río Grande Gorge. Among the fragrant big sagebrush, find red foothills paintbrush, western wallflowers, penstemons, and evening primroses. This trail also has several varieties of flowering cacti.” For a more ambitious outing, plan to visit Agua Sarca Trail in Tres Ritos, where the end of the trail may yield yellow Nuttall’s violets, uncommon in New Mexico.
Speaking of flowers
Mention the artist Georgia O’Keeffe and one’s mind drifts immediately to flowers and vaginas. So says the New Yorker, at any rate, in “Flowers Are the Ultimate Symbols,” an essay that considers O’Keeffe’s relationships to flowers (“they became a kind of prison”), along with her relationship to their association with female sex organs: “For her entire career, O’Keeffe vehemently denied that her paintings had anything to do with female sex organs. This Freudian interpretation of her flowers originated not with her but with Alfred Stieglitz, the powerful photographer and gallerist who launched O’Keeffe’s career and who later became her husband.” Doing so may have been clever marketing and, certainly, proved lucrative: O’Keeffe’s “Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1” sold for $44.4 million in 2014 and still holds the record for the highest price ever paid for a painting by a woman. Flowers, as a painterly subject, ensnared many women artists, the story asserts, but also may contain something “that lies at the limits of human comprehension.”
Today should be sunny with a high near 71 degrees and east wind 10 to 15 mph becoming west in the afternoon. Tonight, fingers crossed, forecasts call for a 20% chance of showers between midnight and 3 am.
Thanks for reading! The Word was just slogging her way through an uninspiring Monday when she came across even more newly released footage of Prince performing, this time in Paris in 2014.