Morning Word

New Mexico Ends COVID-19 Restrictions

State Police ID Santa Fe Police shooter

COVID-19 by the numbers

New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 66 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total so far to 205,542 since recording its first cases on March 11, 2020. The health department has designated 194,553 of those cases as recovered.

Bernalillo County had 21 new ones, followed by San Juan County with 10 and McKinley County with six. Santa Fe County had two new cases.

The state also announced two additional deaths, one recent, from Otero and Curry counties; there have now been 4,340 fatalities. As of yesterday, 64 people were hospitalized with COVID-19.

Currently, 70.7% of New Mexicans have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 62% are fully vaccinated. In Santa Fe County, 78.3% have had at least one dose and 69.5% are fully inoculated.

Instances of the COVID-19 Delta variant—aka B.1.617.2—continue to grow in New Mexico. This week’s epidemiology report on such variants of concern shows 33 sequenced cases, 30 of which investigators matched to specific cases in seven counties. Last week’s report showed 18 Delta variant specimens in four counties. Santa Fe County has not had any documented instances of the Delta variant yet, and 55 of the Alpha variant. Guadalupe County has had the most instances of the Delta variant last week and this week.

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.

NM concludes pandemic restrictions

As of today, New Mexico has ended all pandemic-related occupancy restrictions on all forms of commercial activity and mass gatherings: Be it a restaurant or a concert, businesses and organizations can operate at 100% maximum capacity. Say goodbye to the turquoise map as well: The state also ends its county color-coded framework for restrictions today and has issued a new public health order. According to a news release from the governor’s office, the state will continue to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance regarding face coverings, with masks required for unvaccinated people (face masks haven’t been required for fully vaccinated people in New Mexico since May 14). Businesses, workplaces and tribes may continue to require masks at their discretion, and most health care facilities will continue to require masking, screen for COVID-19 symptoms and take other COVID-19 precautions. “I am incredibly proud of New Mexico,” the governor said in a statement. “We stepped up. We looked out for one another. We sacrificed, and we saved lives. And now we’re all ready for a safe and fun summer. Lord knows New Mexicans have earned it. Please, get your shot if you haven’t already—don’t risk these dangerous new variants that present incredible risk to unvaccinated and even young people. Go to vaccineNM.org and help protect yourself and your family.”

State police ID SFPD shooter

State police have identified Sgt. Bradley Lopez as the Santa Fe Police Department officer who fatally shot a man last week during a downtown foot pursuit. Lopez, who has been with the department 7 1/2 years, remained on paid leave Wednesday, a week after the June 23 shooting, while parallel investigations proceed into whether the shots he fired violated department policy or New Mexico law. According to the State Police news release identifying him, Lopez had been sent to investigate a fight that ended in gunfire at De Vargas Park, joined in a foot pursuit of suspect 29-year-old Francisco Javier Lino-Gutierrez and fired one shot when Lino-Gutierrez pointed his weapon at police. Lopez had fired a weapon while on duty one previous time, according to SFPD Deputy Chief Paul Joye: In May of 2019, when state Game and Fish officials authorized him to shoot and kill a deer that had been severely injured by a vehicle. Both SFPD and State Police will be conducting investigations into the shooting, with the latter’s investigation then heading to First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies for review and potential prosecution. The DA spoke with SFR this week about how she plans to approach police shooting cases.

Drink up?

Today also, as it happens, marks the day New Mexico’s new liquor law takes effect (along with approximately 40 other laws), banning sales of minis at liquor stores and paving the way for home alcohol deliveries. HB 255 also ends the ban on Sunday alcohol sales and creates a cheaper license that theoretically will allow more restaurants to serve more than beer and wine. Previously, full liquor licenses could cost $350,000 and higher. Now, the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Division will accept applications for restaurant-specific $10,000 licenses allowing them to sell cocktails and such, with a cheaper license if they want to sell locally distilled liquors. Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, described the changes as an “unprecedented” breakthrough at the Roundhouse. “The liquor lobby,” he tells the Albuquerque Journal, “has fought every expansion of alcohol sales by the drink for decades.”

State Supreme Court: Legislature not required to meet in person

While the state ends its occupancy restrictions today, the state Supreme Court yesterday issued an opinion detailing a bench ruling last June that allowed the Legislature to meet remotely during the pandemic. Writing for the majority, then-Justice Judith K. Nakamura said the New Mexico Constitution—Article IV, Section 12—is ambiguous on whether it requires the Legislature to allow the physical attendance of the public at its sessions, and it rejected arguments that not doing so deprives New Mexicans of due process. “Nothing in the textual language of the public sessions provision clearly conveys the drafters’ intent to provide the public with a right of in-person attendance at legislative sessions,” the Court’s majority writes. The suit had been brought by a group of mostly Republican lawmakers and former State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn.

Listen up

New Mexico lifts mosts of its COVID-19 pandemic restrictions today. What are your thoughts? Are you excited to travel, see live music, attend Santa Fe’s summer art markets? Or is it all happening just a wee bit too fast and you’re still happier at home, cleaning the doorknobs? Either way, you’re not alone. Listen to what others have to say about a return to some sort of normal or weigh in with your own thoughts on today’s 8 am Let’s Talk New Mexico segment on KUNM. Email your views/feelings to LetsTalk@KUNM.org, or call in live during the show (505-277-5866) on 89.9 FM.

Kiwanis Club presents in-person free fireworks event

From the folks who bring you the giant burning puppet each fall and the Plaza bash every New Year’s Eve comes an in-person Fourth of July celebration. The Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe will host the city’s July 4 free celebration from 4 to 10 pm at Santa Fe Place mall. In-person viewing will take place in the north parking lot; enter via Cerrillos Road, Rodeo Road westbound or Zafarano. The event includes music from local bands Dream Noise; JJ and the Hooligans; Fun Adixx; Sol Fire; and Nosotros, along with food truck options from Andale; Jambo Café; JJs Concessions; Platero Fry Bread; and Power 5 BBQ. The event will also feature a low rider bike raffle from F4BK (Free Bikes For Kidz New Mexico), along with an early chance to snag your 2021 Zozobra T-shirts and posters. “We’re planning for a totally in-person celebration,” Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe and Event Chair Ray Sandoval said in a news release, “so attendees can bring chairs and blankets to listen to the bands, enjoy a variety of foods from our wonderful food truck partners and mingle and visit with friends and family.” And ICYMI, Pancakes on the Plaza is a no-go this year, but the annual vintage car show returns Sunday morning. For more ideas on how to spend the holiday weekend, be sure to check out this week’s SFR Picks and our trusty calendar.

Home is the thing with feathers

Vogue magazine documents designer Raquel Allegra’s purchase and transformation of Many Feathers Ranch, an 8,000-square-foot property at the base of Taos Ski Valley, which Allegra hadn’t intended to purchase until New Mexico’s Land of Enchantment qualities won her over. “She was enchanted by the river that flowed through the property’s north edge, bordered with boulders smooth enough for sunbathing; by the pond, surrounded with swallows; by the stately willow trees. She was enchanted by the view from the porch, with its open fields, forests, and sunsets,” the story reads. Eight months of repairs included fixing a leaky roof, adding new flooring and shopping for furniture. These days her home functions as a “personal wellness retreat.” To wit: “I can spend hours just sitting and watching the light play and shimmer on the leaves of the Aspens in the front yard, or lay on the giant sun-warmed bathing rocks at the river’s edge,” Allegra tells Vogue. If that sounds nice, she also lists it on Airbnb. “This home and property is not meant to be kept private,” she says. “It has so many important natural gifts to offer and deserves to be shared.”

Gov joins White House talks on wildfires

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham joined other Western governors yesterday in a virtual briefing with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to discuss the growing threat wildfires present in the region. According to a White House briefing, the Biden administration has convened a series of meetings on the topic to determine what can be done to both prevent and combat wildfires (according to a news release from the governor’s office, the meeting with the governors was not publicly broadcast, but the governor’s office has requested a transcript). Biden’s proposals include, among other initiatives, raising wildland firefighter pay; extending the firefighting season for temporary firefighters; and transitioning to a more permanent firefighting workforce. Lujan Grisham reportedly spoke about her administration’s efforts to improve forest management, such as the passage and implementation of the bipartisan Prescribed Burning Act earlier this year. She also mentioned an idea dating to her time representing the state’s 1st Congressional district for a federal insurance pool “that would enhance the US government’s ability to work with private sector partners in both fighting fire and mitigating wildfire risk.” All the governors touched upon the impact of the West’s intense drought’s, with Lujan Grisham highlighting the heightened risk some of the tribal nations face “surrounded by open space and forest, face particular risk of fires started elsewhere carrying over and into their sovereign land.”

Stay damp, NM

Chances for more rain today have decreased to 30%, according to the National Weather Service, which forecasts scattered showers and thunderstorms, mainly after noon, but otherwise partly sunny with a high near 79 degrees. Tomorrow looks likely to be wet again with a 70% chance of rain, and the July 4 weekend should be warmer—in the 80s—with a chance for rain both days.

Thanks for reading! The Word wishes you a happy Fourth of July weekend (here’s Nat Geo’s history of how fireworks came to America) and will return Monday, July 5.

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