COVID-19 by the numbers
New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 116 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of cases to 206,666. The health department has designated 195,751 of those cases as recovered. Bernalillo County had 35 cases followed by Doña Ana County with 18 cases and Sandoval County with 11. Santa Fe County had five new cases.
The state also announced one additional death in Otero County, bringing the total number of fatalities to 4,359. As of yesterday, 83 people were hospitalized with COVID-19.
Currently, 71.7% New Mexicans 18 years and older have had at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine and 63.6% are fully vaccinated. In Santa Fe County, 82% have had one dose and 73.3% are fully vaccinated. Among New Mexicans aged 12-17, 43.5% have had one dose and 34.7% are fully vaccinated.
Health Secretary Dr. Tracie Collins and Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase will provide a COVID-19 update at 1 pm today that will stream live on the DOH Facebook page, and with a Spanish language interpreter on Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s YouTube page.
You can read all of SFR’s COVID-19 coverage here.
Santa Fe County considers restricting cannabis growth
Growing cannabis for personal use became legal in New Mexico on June 29. But Santa Fe County commissioners are considering requiring growers to keep their plants indoors. Commissioners discussed the proposal during their meeting yesterday as the county prepares an ordinance governing cannabis in its jurisdiction; the City of Santa Fe also is slated to work on its ordinance this week, and both local governments have been criticized for lagging in setting some necessary zoning parameters. Potentially restricting plant growth to indoors is something the county came up with on its own. “The production of cannabis creates a strong odor that can create compatibility issues with surrounding uses,” Growth Management Department Director Penny Ellis-Green writes in a a memo. “It is, therefore, recommended that indoor producers be required to use industry standard techniques to minimize odorous matter, toxic or noxious matter.” Commissioners had numerous questions for Ellis-Green, such as whether the indoor-requirement is part of the state law (no). “We are a big county and we have a lot of people who live in remote areas who might want to grow something outside,” Hansen noted. “I feel like this is too restrictive. The last thing I want is for us to send the sheriff out...and say ‘You can’t grow this with your corn.’” The county will ultimately have a public hearing on its ordinance.
Family: Slain man attempted suicide before police shot him
Family members of the man shot and killed by Santa Fe County sheriff’s deputies in Tesuque last week are questioning whether officers needed to take such action. According to the State Police, which is investigating the shooting, Edward Daniel Santana, 45, was behaving aggressively toward officers and ignoring their commands in the wake of stabbing his mother, 67-year-old Delia Cervantes. But family members tell the Santa Fe New Mexican that Santana’s aunt, who was at the home, said her nephew slit his own throat after he stabbed his mother and they believe he was actually bleeding to death. “I went and saw the site, and there was all this blood,” Santana’s aunt, Josie Santana, told the New Mexican. “These officers, were they really in danger? Why do they always have to shoot to kill?” A sister who witnessed both the attack and shooting would not comment, but Santana’s father, Edward Gene Santana, said when he arrived on the scene he asked an officer about his son and the officer responded: ‘Oh, he’s been shot. He’ll never bother anybody again.’” Family members say Edward Daniel Santana had struggled with crystal methamphetamine addiction.
US Surgeon General visits NM
US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy visited New Mexico yesterday, taking part in a ceremony at the New Mexico History Museum that honored eight New Mexico scientists and healthcare officials for their roles in helping the state during the COVID-19 pandemic. The honorees included Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist Paul Fenimore, who helped develop the state’s COVID-19 modeling; Vice Chancellor of Clinical Affairs at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center Dr. Michael Richards, who helped lead the state’s Medical Advisory Team; and former Medical Director of the Infectious Disease Bureau for the New Mexico Department of Health Dr. Aja Sanzone, who led the creation of the state’s COVID-19 testing program. All three will also be honored by the state this month with special days recognizing their contributions. Murthy, whose visit here was his first official travel since his reappointment, came at the request of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, according to the Albuquerque Journal, in part to honor health care workers, as well as caution about the toll the pandemic has taken. “We’ve got to really focus in on mental health in this next phase of the pandemic response and recognize that this is part of the broader recovery we do,” Murthy said.
In advance of the Santa Fe Opera’s final opera this summer, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, by composer Benjamin Britten, based on Shakespeare’s play, the Santa Fe Opera Guild is offering three two-hour Zoom sessions that will allow participants to choose and read character parts from the play, facilitated by Shakespeare educator Robin Williams. The second of the free series takes place at 3 pm today (the first was Monday) and again at the same time on Friday, July 16. Reading is not required (nor is attending all three Zooms); no experience necessary to read, though, and the meetings will include discussions of the play and language. Any edition works, but you can buy the one Williams edited at Collected Works. Register here.
Just days after southern New Mexico celebrated Richard Branson’s launch into space, Northern New Mexico will also herald another groundbreaking event. At 1 pm, today, the City of Santa Fe will break ground on the city’s first downtown public restroom (100 Water St). “This is a big deal,” Director of Tourism Randy Randall says in a statement (we don’t disagree). Following today’s ceremonial event, he notes, as of January 2022, “Santa Fe will for the first time be able to provide public restroom facilities in our historic district for the comfort and convenience of the 2.5 million visitors we receive each year.” Why has it taken so long to provide public facilities? According to a statement from Mayor Alan Webber, it took a long time to find “the right design and the right funding.” Now, however, the new restroom will not only...provide people a place to use a bathroom, but “add to Santa Fe’s well-deserved reputation as a place where everyone is welcome.” While the event is public, no watch parties have been announced.
Drought threatens acequias
The New York Times examines the Southwest drought’s impact on New Mexico’s acequias. In Ledoux, for example, they have begun to run dry. “I never thought I’d witness such a crash in our water sources,” farmer Harold Trujillo, 71, tells the Times. Trujillo’s production of hay has diminished annually from 6,000 bales to approximately 300. “I look at the mountains around us and ask: ‘Where’s the snow? Where are the rains?’” As Simon Romero writes, the state’s storied acequias have survived for centuries, with Spanish colonists in the state “digging the canals in the 1600s, building on water harvesting techniques honed by the Pueblo Indians.” Even then, the practice reflected earlier blending of cultures, with “Muslims introducing acequias in Spain after invading the Iberian Peninsula in the eighth century.” Now, though, the megadrought in the region is impacting acequias; In Ledoux, Trujillo says, this has led both to rising tensions and an increasing “exodus” to larger cities and towns. Paula Garcia, executive director of the New Mexico Acequia Association, says the river in Mora is “chronically dry,” and she receives regular calls from farmers about acequias running low or completely dry. “It’s the same in one community after another,” Garcia says.
Ready, set, rain
In addition to more widespread haze, Santa Fe is slated to receive showers and thunderstorms today after noon, with a 70% chance for precipitation, according to the National Weather Service. When it’s not hazy and raining, it will be partly sunny, with a high near 81 degrees and north wind 5 to 15 mph becoming west in the morning. More storms likely tonight, mostly before midnight.