COVID-19 by the numbers

New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 202 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total so far to 200,432. The health department has designated 185,567 of those cases as recovered. Bernalillo County had 73 new cases, followed by San Juan County with 32 and Torrance County with 18. Santa Fe County had 10 new cases.

The state also announced two additional deaths, including a man in his 60s from Santa Fe County, the county’s 145th fatality. There have now been 4,112 total deaths statewide. Hospitalizations continue to decrease, with 106 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19.

Yesterday, the health department announced that more than 50% of New Mexicans have been fully vaccinated: 51%, to be precise, with 62.3% of eligible New Mexicans receiving at least one dose. At the end of April, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said the state would end its red-to-green rules and completely reopen if able to fully vaccinate 60% of residents. “We’re well on our way to 60% fully vaccinated,” Health Secretary Dr. Tracie Collins said in a statement, “and a long-awaited reopening.”

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.

Will NM un-mask?

New Mexico’s health department is reviewing new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, announced yesterday, eliminating the need for fully vaccinated people to wear masks in most indoor and outdoor settings. The governor’s press secretary, Nora Meyers Sackett, tells SFR via email that the state expects “adjustments to the state’s public health order to be made imminently after a thorough evaluation of the new information.” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky announced the new guidance during a news conference yesterday afternoon, noting that COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations continue to decline nationwide, while mounting “data and evidence” show the vaccines’ real-world efficacy, their ability to ward off COVID-19 variants and “our growing understanding of the low risk of transmission to others.” Those factors, combined with “universal access” to vaccines for people 12 years and older following the CDC’s endorsement yesterday of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 12-15, led the CDC to update its guidance. “Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physically distancing,” Walensky said. “If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic. We have all longed for this moment where we can get back to some sense of normalcy.”

Southside neighbors see plans for teen center

Designs for a long-awaited teen center on Santa Fe’s Southside will include multiple spaces for young people to hang out; play sports and games; do their homework; and create arts and crafts. But under the current plans, it won’t have a soccer field. “The need for soccer space has been identified for years and years and years,” Bianca Sopoci-Belknap, co-director at community group Earthcare, which is located next to the teen center site. In March, the city received $3.9 million in state appropriations and plans to break ground later this year and potentially open the doors by the end of 2022. Last night, the center’s design team presented their plans during an early neighborhood notification meeting intended, Project Manager Sam Burnett says, to provide the community with an overview of the architectural plan, rather than detailed discussion about programs or services. Southside City Councilor Roman “Tiger” Abeyta, who also serves as chief professional officer of the Boys and Girls Club located next to the teen center site, says those detailed discussions also need to happen. “It’s important that we discuss everybody’s vision,” he said.

Union sounds alarm on wastewater plant

Union members say a series of “dangerous and life-threatening” safety issues have taken place at the Santa Fe Wastewater Treatment Plant. In a letter sent yesterday, the local chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees asked the state Occupational Health and Safety Bureau to intervene, noting that the issues raised “have been addressed by our Union repeatedly but appear to fall on deaf ears.” Their letter includes 45 images and descriptions showing alleged slipping hazards, sludge leaks, open wires and other issues; the letter also claims the Paseo Real treatment plant’s daily records have been falsified. City spokesman Dave Herndon tells the Santa Fe New Mexican that the city takes workplace safety issues seriously, and will immediately fix them if the state determines problems exist.

Listen up

Most folks—expert and otherwise—anticipate a difficult fire season. Local firefighters already have concerns due to the extreme drought in Santa Fe County and throughout New Mexico, not to mention all the dry foliage blowing around. Bryce Dix recently spoke with Santa Fe County Fire Department Fire Prevention Specialist Jeffrey Folgate about how his department will be tackling the season, and advice on how Northern New Mexicans can help. For one, remember that “fire season,” once considered roughly May through the summer monsoons, can increasingly be any time as a result of climate change. Folgate also pointed homeowners toward the Santa Fe County’s “Ready, Set, Go” guide, which can help them create a home defensible home for firefighters should the worse occur.

Currents’ current moment

Ready to attend a gallery opening in the real world? CURRENTS 826—the Canyon Road arm of the annual festival—will hold a special evening event from 5 to 11 pm on May 15—UNESCO’s International Day of Light—for its current exhibition, Altered Light, a seven-artist group show featuring a bevy of light, laser, projection and holographic arts. “We kept putting it off and putting it off,” Mariannah Amster, co-executive and artistic director for CURRENTS, tells SFR. “And the more we kept putting it off, the more we realized how appropriate it is for the moment we’re in right now—the transition out of the pandemic.” And the season, Co-Director Frank Ragano, notes: “It’s this idea of spring and light and the altering of spring.” A limited number of visitors will be allowed into the gallery’s interior during the show, but the real draw will be the outdoor holographic and projection elements, many of which will remain a surprise until they’re unveiled.

Lucky rabbit

Generally speaking, we avoid stories about bunnies who have to have their legs amputated (we all have our emotional limits), but this one has a happy ending. Yo-Yo the house rabbit had a fractured spine and paralyzed legs when she was found as a stray a few months ago and taken to Albuquerque Animal Welfare. She ended up being fostered and cared for by the folks at New Mexico House Rabbit Society but, sadly, also will need to have both her legs amputated. That’s where Santa Fe-based tech company New Collar Network stepped in and designed a bunny wheelchair of sorts using 3D-printing. “You just hate to see them suffer and she’s a tough cookie,” New Collar Network CEO Sarah Boisvert, herself an owner of house bunnies, told KRQE ( you can read more about Boisvert’s own house bunnies here). Yo-Yo will be fitted for her wheelchair next month after her second amputation; you can contribute to her medical bills here (and, yes, she will eventually be available for adoption).

Some like it hot

Expect much warmer weather today and throughout the weekend. According to the National Weather Service, Santa Fe is looking at a high near 81 degrees, sunny, with east wind 5 to 10 mph becoming southwest 15 to 20 mph in the afternoon, and just about the same temps on Saturday (80) and Sunday (79). Fingers crossed, the forecast currently shows chances of rain starting Monday and continuing on through next Thursday!

Thanks for reading! The Word almost ran late today because she was mesmerized (enviously) watching the sea lions sleep.