COVID-19 by the numbers
On Friday, New Mexico health officials reported 161 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total to 203,472. The health department has designated 190,279 of those cases as recovered. Bernalillo County had 43 new cases, followed by Doña Ana County with 23 and San Juan County with 15. Santa Fe County had 10, five from the Southside 87507 ZIP code, which ranked eighth in the state on Friday for the most new cases.
The state also announced seven additional deaths, five of which were recent and two from more than 30 days ago. As of Friday, 102 people were hospitalized with COVID-19. The health department will provide a three-day update later today.
Currently, 66% of New Mexicans have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 56.3% are fully vaccinated. In Santa Fe County, 74.5% have had at least one dose and 64.1% are fully inoculated.
Feds announce Valley of the Spirit Ranch purchase
The Santa Fe National Forest will be acquiring two parcels of land on both sides of the Jemez River—the Valley of the Spirit Ranch—adding more than 2,000 acres to the forest and expanding public access to areas currently difficult to reach. According to a statement released Friday, last year’s Great American Outdoors Act made the acquisition possible; the legislation included the permanent reauthorization and full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which provides money to federal, state and local governments to purchase land, water and wetlands for the public’s benefit. US Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-NM, who cosponsored and championed the Great American Outdoors Act and helped secure the LWCF funding for the Jemez property, said in a statement this acquisition signifies why he did so. “Protecting this land ensures public access to outstanding outdoor recreation, contributes to the important tourism economy of New Mexico and preserves cultural sites of great significance to the valley’s Tribal and Hispanic heritage,” Heinrich said. Representatives from the Pueblo of Jemez and the Village of Jemez Springs say both entities also support the purchase. “This is a great opportunity for the Pueblo of Jemez to work together with the United States Forest Service to protect and conserve the natural and cultural resources in the Jemez Ancestral Homeland,” Pueblo of Jemez Gov. Michael Toledo, Jr., said. The property, located within the congressionally designated Jemez National Recreation Area, includes hiking trails; an undeveloped hot spring; one of the largest peregrine falcon nesting areas on the SFNF; as well as habitat for endangered or threatened species such as the Mexican spotted owl, the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse, the Rio Grande chub and the Rio Grande sucker.
SEC, House Speaker appoint redistricting members
The state Ethics Commission on Friday appointed retired New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Edward L. Chavez to serve as chairman for the state’s new Citizen Redistricting Committee, created during the 2021 regular legislative session. The ethics commission also appointed state demographer Robert Rhatigan, along with public school teacher and community organizer Joaquin Sanchezto, to seats on the redistricting committee reserved for members of minor parties or non-affiliated voters. According to an SEC news release, its commissioners interviewed applicants via Zoom during the commission’s bi-monthly meeting, appointed Chavez unanimously and reached a consensus on the two non-major-party members in the first round of voting. On July 1, 2021, when the Redistricting Act takes effect, the SEC’s general counsel will administer the oath of office for appointee. House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, also appointed his pick, former state Sen. Michael Sanchez, a Democrat, to the commission on Friday. Under the redistricting law, the Senate President Pro Tem and minority leaders in both chambers will also each appoint a member. All members must be announced by July 1, and no more than three members can be affiliated with the same political party.
Up in the air
ICYMI, the Albuquerque International Sunport recently announced updates and additions to flights lost during the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the weekend, Delta Air Lines resumed direct, nonstop service between the Sunport and Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport in Minnesota, and last week jetBlue increased the frequency of its popular nonstop flight to JFK Airport in New York City from two to four times a week. That flight will move to daily service from mid-June to July, then back to five times per week through the end of summer. “These updates are perfect examples of what we’ve been working towards with respect to our COVID recovery,” City of Albuquerque Aviation Director Nyika Allen said in a statement. “We’re now back to offering 21 direct flights to destinations throughout the country, which is great news for everyone who’s ready to book a long-awaited summer vacation.” In other New Mexico/air-traffic news: On Friday, Delta diverted a Los Angeles/Nashville flight to Albuquerque due to an unruly passenger; numerous Santa Feans spotted, identified and complained about military aircraft circling the city last week, but the source of said craft has yet to be identified; the drone/dildo incident that interrupted Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales III’s Albuquerque mayoral campaign event made the national news but does not appear to have reached the late-night talk-show circuit.
Numerous businesses say they are having trouble hiring employees as the state emerges from the pandemic. On the most recent episode of Enchanting Economics, the podcast from the University of New Mexico Bureau of Business and Economic Research, BBER Director Michael “Mo” O’Donnell explains the current struggle plaguing New Mexico’s workforce and why people are hesitant to return to work; why businesses are struggling to hire staff; what industries are still hurting; and which are recovering.
On Friday, the Santa Fe Public Library announced all three branches—Main, LaFarge, and Southside—will reopen Wednesday, July 7 at 10 am and operate from 10 am to 6 pm Tuesday through Saturdays. While patrons will be allowed to browse, use the computer stations, print documents, use restrooms and, of course, shop at the Friends of the Library bookstores, the library also asks patrons to make their visits as brief as possible, preferably one hour or less. Staff and library users will be required to wear masks inside, regardless of vaccination status. Curbside pickup will still be available for those unable to come inside. Other rules to consider: In-person library programs will be held outdoors; meeting rooms will not be available to the public; book returns will only take place outdoors, with the exception of interlibrary loan books, which can be returned directly to staff at the circulation desks. “We’d like to thank the Santa Fe community for your patience, resilience and kindness since COVID-19 restrictions closed our doors in March of 2020 and prompted us to explore different ways of serving you,” a news release from the library reads. “We look forward to seeing your smiling eyes very soon!”
Reconsidering Mabel Dodge Luhan
What’s with the revival of Mabel Dodge Luhan, the New Yorker asks? It’s a “strange” moment for such a revival, Rebecca Panovka writes. After all, Luhan ended up in New Mexico because she “considered herself divinely appointed to ‘save the Indians’ in order to restore the spiritual and sexual life of a white American society in decay,” which is to say “her racial beliefs sit somewhere on the spectrum between troubling and deranged.” Once in New Mexico, she left her third husband for Taos pueblo resident Tony Lujan and also launched an artist colony, wrote multiple volumes of her memoirs and famous guests, and hosted famous guests, including novelist DH Lawrence. Two new books focus on Luhan’s relationship with Lawrence: Frances Wilson’s Burning Man: The Trials of D. H. Lawrence, and Rachel Cusk’s Second Place, inspired by Luhan’s memoir Lorenzo in Taos. Luhan, Panovka posits, resists an easy feminist reading, and her own memoirs...”peppered with occult vernacular and accounts of unhinged behavior, are essentially harmless.” Nonetheless, “plucking her out of oblivion is a fraught endeavor: to mine the archive for characters to rediscover is to engage in a kind of revisionism, casting elements of the past as contemporary fables. Sometimes, that process is a cautionary tale all its own.”
The heat is on
Today’s forecast—as well as the current outlook for the rest of the week—bids farewell to the weekend’s sputtering rain and darkening clouds. Instead, today will be sunny with a high near 85 degrees and northeast wind 5 to 15 mph becoming southwest in the afternoon.
Thanks for reading! The Word thought reading this essay on the concept of wasting time qualified as a good use of her time.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story gave the wrong date for the library reopening.