Morning Word

New Mexico Reinstates Work Search Requirement for Unemployed

SFCC eliminates solar and other programs

COVID-19 by the numbers

New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 137 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total so far past 200,000: 200,037, to be exact. The health department has designated 185,249 of those cases as recovered.

Among the 19 counties with reported new cases, Bernalillo County had 56, followed by San Juan County with 13 and Guadalupe County with 12. Santa Fe County had seven new cases.

The state also announced three additional deaths; there have now been 4,108 fatalities. As of yesterday, 141 people were hospitalized with COVID-19.

Currently, 60.1% of New Mexicans have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 48.2% are fully vaccinated. In Santa Fe County, 70.8% have had at least one dose and 56.9% are fully inoculated.

Yesterday, DOH announced that businesses, nonprofits, religious congregations, community centers and other organizations can now request on-site vaccination events via Organizations must bring a minimum of 25 people to a vaccination event, which can be a combination of employees, family and community members. In some cases, DOH says it may combine multiple requests or reroute organizations to pre-existing events.

Also yesterday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham participated in a virtual White House event with President Joe Biden and five other governors to discuss states’ COVID-19 statuses. The governor said New Mexico would meet or exceed the White House’s goal of having 70% of residents with at least one shot by the start of July. She also said some of the state’s tribal nations had already fully vaccinated 95% of their populations.

You can read all of SFR’s COVID-19 coverage here. If you’ve had experiences with COVID-19, we would like to hear from you.

Back to work

As of this week, New Mexicans receiving unemployment must once again start looking for work. According to the state Department of Workforce Solutions, residents receiving unemployment must document at least two work search activities each week starting this week and every week thereafter. “With the decline in COVID-19 spread and the successful rollout of the vaccine, we have the tools to move New Mexico forward,” Acting Secretary Ricky Serna said in a statement. “As a result, more employers are now able to increase their reopening efforts, including bringing more staff back to work and hiring new positions.” Those receiving unemployment also can fulfill their work search requirements by attending different various workshops offered by New Mexico Workforce Connection Centers across the state. New Mexico suspended the federal work search requirement at the onset of the pandemic in March 2020. At the end of last month, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham told Albuquerque business leaders the state would be adopting new policies to encourage people without jobs to return to work: “We need to both incentivize employees to go back to work and we’re going to need some accountability aspects,” Lujan Grisham said. However, labor rights advocates and others maintain that worker shortages also stem from concerns about workplace safety and adequate wages.

Lights out for SFCC’s solar program

New Mexico’s solar industry may be growing, but prospective workers won’t be learning about it at Santa Fe Community College. The school will be eliminating the program at the end of this year, and recently laid off its director Xubi Wilson after 11 years with the program. The school says it will allow current students to finish the program, but won’t take on new ones or retain full-time faculty. The school announced myriad reductions in force and cuts May 3, all stemming from COVID-19′s financial challenges, President Becky Rowley said in a statement announcing the changes. The architectural and interior design; exercise science; hospitality and tourism management programs also will stop taking new students, carrying the loss of five other staff and faculty. On the subject of the solar program, Rowley says: “The bottom line for us is that people are not coming to our program.” Wilson points to reports from the Santa Fe Institute and the University of New Mexico that bolster the program’s importance. “I’m worried for the community, and the program and my students,” Wilson says.

Garbage out

The state transportation department yesterday reintroduced its ’90s era ‘Toss NO Mas’ litter campaign, the original version of which included a theme song from Santa Fe songwriter Jim Terr. “Somebody told me that it was the longest-running jingle in New Mexico,” Terr told SFR close to a decade ago. “I remember it came to me,” Terr said. “I just wrote it.” The litter problem has not improved since the ’90s, and appears to have worsened during the pandemic, officials say. “Roadside litter has become a persistent issue for the department and New Mexico,” Transportation Secretary Mike Sandoval said in a statement. “We have 886 boots on the ground picking up litter and roadside debris throughout the year, but the problem is ongoing. The day after a stretch of road is cleaned, new trash starts to accumulate. During the pandemic, the problem seemed to get worse. PPE was found everywhere. We are asking for everyone’s help.” The new campaign includes a “fun, new jingle spoofing a song from the 80s,” that will play on the radio (how’s that for retro?), billboards, social media advertising and a new website, which includes, among other resources, trash facts and tips.

Listen up

New Mexico’s pending new adult recreational cannabis industry has created a lot of excitement. For one woman, it’s creating a whole lot of work. Linda Trujillo, superintendent of the state’s Regulation and Licensing Department, is overseeing all the new regulations and processes that need to be put into effect. She spoke about what’s ahead in a recent interview on KSFR with Dennis Carroll. “It is kind of a whole new industry in the United States and even the world,” Trujillo says. “We’re blessed that we have the medical cannabis [which] has been in functionality for so long, so there’s a lot of good information available. Our job really is to oversee the regulation of the industry,” she says, and “if necessary enforcement actions.”

Exotic Albuquerque

Truth be told, we rarely, if ever, think of Albuquerque as exotic, per se, but Forbes magazine makes a compelling argument in its story, “Why Albuquerque, New Mexico, Is the Most Exotic American Big City.” Exhibit A: Wildlife spotting at Ted Turner’s vast and highly luxurious Vermejo Park Ranch. Exhibit B: Santa Fe and Taos’ gallery scene. Exhibit C: The chance to immerse oneself in ancient civilizations at Chaco Canyon. Lest you think the article’s author encountered Albuquerque as a stranger, writer Ann Abel was born and raised there, but returned from abroad for six weeks to be vaccinated. She encountered a city that contained much she remembered—mountains and wildflowers, for example—along with rising businesses and industries that instilled a new appreciation for her hometown.

County seeks Health Commission members

Want to help Santa Fe County serve residents’ health needs? The county is seeking members for the Health Policy and Planning Commission in districts 2, 3 and 5, as well as countywide (you can view a district map here). County commissioners appoint the volunteer HPPC members, who then work with the County’s Community Services Department and the community regarding the health needs of residents, and assist the BCC by researching health and related issues. Current priorities include: increasing Santa Fe County residents health insurance enrollment and consumption of healthy foods; and reducing alcohol abuse, drug abuse, low birth weight and suicides. Learn more here or call Health Services Division Director Patricia Boies at 505-995-9538 for info. Anyone interested in appointment to the committee (background checks will be required) should submit a letter of interest and resume to Boies at

Head in the clouds

Today will begin as a mostly cloudy experience, but then gradually become sunny with a high near 68 degrees and southeast wind around 15 mph.

Thanks for reading! The Word mostly finds Zoom tedious beyond measure, but nonetheless found photographer Thomas Dworzak’s documentation of a year on Zoom fascinating.

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