COVID-19 by the numbers
New Mexico health officials on Friday reported 86 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total so far to 205,715. The health department has designated 194,687 of those cases as recovered. Bernalillo County had 22 new cases, followed by Santa Fe County with 11 and Doña Ana County with nine.
The state also announced one additional death: a female in her 90s from Doña Ana County. As of Friday, 67 people were hospitalized with COVID-19.
Currently, 71% of New Mexicans have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 62.5% are fully vaccinated. In Santa Fe County, 78.3% have had at least one dose and 69.5% are fully inoculated.
Also on Friday, the state’s Vax 2 the Max Sweepstakes produced its next four prize winners of $250,000 each from Santa Fe, Tijeras, Ruidoso and Las Cruces. The next $1 million drawing is scheduled for July 16, followed by drawings scheduled for July 23 and July 30. A grand prize drawing of $5 million is scheduled for early August.
State Police shoot man in Santa Fe
In the third police shooting in Santa Fe in the last two weeks, State Police yesterday shot a man following a foot chase in a residential area. According to a news release, at approximately 9:20 am, State Police went to help Santa Fe Police Department officers with a man sitting on the Rail Runner tracks near Interstate 25 milepost 275 who brandished a firearm at the officers and then fled. Officers chased the man across 1-25 and into a residential area near Calle Pardo and Chaparral, during which time the suspect fired at least one shot at officers, who then discharged their duty weapons, striking the suspect at least once. No officers were injured, and the suspect was transported to an area hospital for non-life-threatening injuries. The State Police investigations bureau will lead the investigation of the shooting; neither the names of the officers involved—who have been placed on standard administrative leave—nor the suspect will be released until interviews have taken place and a positive identification has been made, respectively. Both the city police and the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s department fatally shot suspects in Santa Fe in the prior two weeks.
City: In-person services start this week
The City of Santa Fe recommences in-person services this week, with both the Main and Southside libraries reopening on July 7 and maintaining hours of 10 am to 6 pm, Tuesday through Saturday (the LaFarge branch will only have curbside pickup, 12 to 5:30 pm, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday). Starting July 12, city office buildings will be open to the public from 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday, with the Land Use Department providing in-person services by appointment only (and the Building Division will stop accepting permit applications on Aug. 2). The Parking Division continues being open from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. All three of the city’s recreational facilities: Fort Marcy, Salvador Perez and Genoveva Chavez Community Center will be open, with reservations required for specific activities, such as swimming. Under the city’s current health order, which expires July 12, facial coverings are required for members of the public to receive in-person services regardless of vaccination status.
Health secretary announces departure
ICYMI, Health Secretary Dr. Tracie Collins announced on Friday she will be leaving at the end of July to return to academia at the University of New Mexico, where she served as dean of the College of Population Health prior to joining DOH in December. “We were fortunate enough to have the chance to steal Dr. Collins for a few months, and we will keep working together in whatever context,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement. “We’d be delighted to have her forever.” Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase—who provided regular epidemiology and medical updates throughout the pandemic in public briefings—will “step in” to lead the department upon Collins’ departure while continuing to also lead HSD. Scrase served a comparable role after former Health Secretary Kathyleen Kunkel announced her retirement last summer. In a statement, Collins expressed gratitude to her DOH colleagues and the governor: “Our partnership has been the foundation of an incredibly successful vaccination drive. I’m proud of the work we’ve done to protect New Mexicans, especially with our emphasis on equity and reaching underserved populations.” Information Technology Secretary John Salazar, who began his position in March 2020, also will be retiring at the end of July.
NM offers cash to return to work
Starting this week, New Mexico will provide supplemental payments for New Mexicans receiving unemployment benefits when they return to work. According to a news release from the governor’s office, the program will run through Aug. 28, with some workers receiving up to $1,000 via federal stimulus money “as a means of accelerating the recovery of the state’s workforce.” Specifically, if an unemployment claimant reports a new job this week and remains employed, they will receive a one-time $1,000 supplement from the state Department of Workforce Solutions upon the conclusion of the nine-week program; those reporting a new job during the week starting July 11 will receive $800; $600 for the week of July 18; and $400 for a new job the week of July 25. “The state will continue doing what it can to help workers and businesses get back on their feet,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement. “If we can make it even just one degree easier for someone to get back to work, helping offset transition costs, then we’ve got to do that—and we can and we will.”
New Mexico’s new Cannabis Regulation Act went into effect last week. What happens now? In the most recent episode of New Mexico In Focus, “The Line” opinion panel discusses the public-facing aspect of the new bill, and Growing Forward podcast hosts Megan Kamerick and Andy Lyman speak with Adam Levin of the Pew Charitable Trusts, who has studied states rolling out legal cannabis industries. The show also delves into the rise in homeschooling and the troubles at the state Children, Youth & Families Department.
Committees IDs potential CHART contractor
City of Santa Fe committees this week will consider a selection committee’s recommendation that Artful Life receive a contract to oversee a long-awaited Culture, History, Art, Reconciliation and Truth (CHART) process, intended to address, among other issues, the cultural divisions surrounding public monuments. Founded in 2015 by Santa Fean Valerie Martinez (Diné and Hispanic), a former Santa Fe poet laureate, Artful Life describes itself as “dedicated to the belief that community revitalization is a collective process fueled by art, creativity, intentional action and a thoughtful approach.” During a Friday Zoom meet-and-greet with media, Martinez said Artful Life would be taking a “multi-pronged” approach to its work with the city, using surveys, one-on-one discussions and larger gatherings. “We see sometimes the way public dialogue can devolve into not very fruitful conversations,” Martinez said, “so we spend a lot of time planning these gatherings to prevent this from happening.” Co-Director Jenice Gharib said the group is “very aware of the complexity of the issue here in Santa Fe” and has “had many long conversations about this and we’re totally committed to the integrity of the project.” Three city committees will consider Artful Life for the work in the coming week or so, with the City Council scheduled to vote on the contract July 14. In March, the City Council approved spending $62,000 on the consultant, according to the city, with $326,000 allocated in the current budget for the entire CHART process.
Haaland highlighted as least wealthy cabinet member
New Mexico’s Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) continues to garner national media attention in her new role as Interior Secretary, with Forbes magazine highlighting her net worth ($0, Forbes says) as the lowest among President Biden’s cabinet members. The magazine reviewed Haaland’s financial disclosure records from last December, in which she listed only student loans worth no more than $50,000 and a $175 annual tribal payment. Haaland has spoken before about her struggles as a single mother and with homelessness. “I just feel like there has to be more people like me in office who can say, ‘I know what it’s like to be on food stamps,” she told the Today show in 2019. “I know what it’s like to find every free program to put my kid through so that she has opportunities.’”
Epstein ranch to be sold
The Wall Street Journal reports the late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein’s 8,000-acre New Mexico property will be put on the market for $27.5 million. Among its other features, the property includes a 30,000 square-foot residence and an airstrip. According to WSJ, the property is the latest sale following Epstein’s 2019 suicide while being held in a correctional facility awaiting trial on charges of sex trafficking; his Manhattan townhouse sold for $51 million and his Palm Beach, Fla., compound sold for $18.5 million earlier this year. The proceeds from the sale of “Zorro Ranch,” which is approximately 35 miles from Santa Fe and was purchased by Epstein in 1993, will go to his estate, “including as necessary to compensate claimants, tax authorities and creditors”; according to a lawyer acting on behalf of the estate, it has thus far provided more than $149 million toward the court-approved Epstein Victims’ Compensation Program since it was created in June 2020.
The National Weather Service forecasts a 50% chance for rain today and tonight, some of which may produce heavy rain. Otherwise, it will be mostly sunny with a high near 86 degrees and north wind 5 to 15 miles per hour becoming south in the afternoon. Currently, the rest of the week holds a chance for rain every day, albeit with decreasing likelihood.
Thanks for reading! The Word frequently takes comfort in the state of her desk by looking at this picture of the New York Review of Books’ office.