Morning Word

PED Releases Back-to-School COVID-19 Guidelines

City of Santa Fe solicits cannabis feedback

COVID-19 by the numbers

New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 632 new COVID-19 cases for the three-day period of July 24-26, bringing the statewide total to 209,118. DOH has designated 196,641 of those cases as recovered. Bernalillo County had 232 new cases, followed by Eddy County with 59 and Sandoval County with 42. Santa Fe County had 26 new cases.

The state also announced three additional deaths, two recent and one from more than 30 days ago, bringing the total number of fatalities to 4,400. As of yesterday, 89 people were hospitalized with COVID-19.

Currently, 72.5% New Mexicans 18 years and older have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with 64.4% in that age group fully vaccinated. Among those 12-17 years old, 46.8% have had at least one dose and 37.4% are fully vaccinated. In Santa Fe County, 82.9% are partially vaccinated and 74.2% are fully vaccinated. You can register for a vaccine here and view available vaccine events by area here.

You can read all of SFR’s COVID-19 coverage here.

PED releases COVID-19 school re-entry protocols

Yesterday, the state Public Education Department released its back-to-school reentry guide, or “toolkit,” for the 2021/2022 school year, requiring masks for everyone in an elementary school while in a school building, on school transportation or at an indoor school-sponsored event. At secondary schools, however, students, staff, volunteers and visitors who are fully vaccinated and provide documentation don’t have to wear masks. Anyone who is unvaccinated (or lacking documentation of vaccination) will have to wear masks in all those places (here’s a PED FAQ on masks). The plan also requires social distancing for unvaccinated students and staff in schools, with adults required to maintain 6 feet of social distance from others and unvaccinated students required to maintain 3 feet of social distance “to the extent possible, except when eating, exercising, taking mask breaks, playing wind instruments and singing or shouting, in which case 6 feet of social distance is required.” As for determining the vaccination status of students, individual schools are required to come up with plans for doing so, as well as new disciplinary measures for mask-wearing violations. In the case of Santa Fe Public Schools, classes start Aug. 6. According to the district’s website, it is in the process of reviewing the state guidance and will publish a guide for the district in the coming days and hold community and staff meetings prior to students’ return.

City solicits cannabis feedback

The City of Santa Fe has some decisions to make regarding zoning and the like as it relates to the newly enacted state Cannabis Regulation Act. And the City Council will hear from the public during its 7 pm petitions-from-the-floor segment at the July 28 meeting. Attendees can participate live via Zoom (two-minute limit for comments) or through written comments, and are being asked to weigh in particularly on a variety of questions. Here’s a few of them: Should the density of cannabis establishments be limited, in all or part of the city? Should the city adopt operating times for cannabis establishments? Should cannabis uses be located a minimum distance from schools, daycare centers, religious institutions and/or residential neighborhoods? You can read the full list of questions the city has posed for input here. To submit written comments, go to:, click on the comment button and type in your message by 1 pm on Wednesday. Details for participating by Zoom or watching on YouTube available here. Meanwhile, the state continues to prepare for sales next April, with Linda Trujillo, superintendent of the Regulation and Licensing Department, telling lawmakers yesterday the state will likely run out of cannabis at first, but should have diminished demand over time.

NM Public Defender settles more suits

The Public Defender’s Office in New Mexico paid $345,000 to settle two lawsuits from 2019 that alleged sexual harassment by former investigator Javier Diaz. In the case of Kathy Genao, who had worked as a senior secretary in the PD’s Las Cruces office, the Law Offices of the Public Defender paid $215,000 to resolve Genao’s claims of “hyper-sexualized workplace conduct,” which included Diaz standing with his crotch in front of Genao’s face (while she was seated) with “an obvious erection that was visible through his pants to her.” Genao also says she experienced retaliation when she spoke to human resources about Diaz’ behavior. In the case of Raymond Hernandez, another investigator in the office, the Public Defender’s Office and its attorneys settled for $130,000. Hernandez accused Diaz of “body shaming, badgering and name calling,” and of rubbing his genitals against Hernandez’s back and requesting oral sex. According to the Albuquerque Journal, Diaz released a statement through his lawyer denying the allegations in the lawsuits (and lawyers for the Public Defender’s Office also denied them in their legal filings). In November, the Public Defender’s Office paid $750,000 to settle a third lawsuit that alleged sexual harassment, violations of the Fair Pay for Women Act and other claims.

Listen up

New Mexico In Focus takes a recent look at some of the top headlines, with “The Line” panel discussing the New Mexico Supreme Court’s recent decision that potentially holds gas stations liable for selling fuel to drunk drivers, along with the ethics complaint filed against Attorney General Hector Balderas regarding Public Service Company of New Mexico’s proposed merger. The group also discusses the challenges around public financing of political campaigns.

Break it down

SFR’s cover last week delves into the recent and distant past for Santa Fe’s 3HC breakdance crew, a group of athletes you may have spotted at a public event (the ones doing gravity-defying moves as the rest of the audience stares in wonder). While individual members have changed over the years, these days the group features Ricky Rodriguez Sr., Alejandra Avila and Tyrone Clemons. For Rodriguez, the journey began in the late 1990s when he would go to the short-lived Harambe rave and dance venue on the Southside. “The impact it had in those years was permanent,” he says (3HC stands for Harambe Hip-Hop Crew). In addition to performing around town, 3HC’s members “have kept the beat alive,” the story notes, “by endlessly honing their own craft, training up new generations of breakers and, during the height of COVID-19, founding and operating the Hip-Hop University project, a combination dance, arts and education program for youths grappling with inactivity, an uncertain future, and a town that has not always embraced them as its most vulnerable and underserved denizens.”

Spotlight on Studi

Award-winning novelist Tommy Orange (Cheyenne and Arapaho), an MFA graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts, writes about Native actor and Santa Fe resident Wes Studi (Cherokee), for GQ in a profile titled “The Untold Stories of Wes Studi.” Orange first encountered Studi at the age of 8 when he saw Dances With Wolves with his family. “There’d been nothing close to that moment in my lifetime,” Orange writes. “We were used to Italian Americans playing crying Indians in anti-litter PSAs. Otherwise, I’d seen no Native people onscreen.” Studi has since become “the biggest star we’ve ever had in the Native acting world,” but recognizes how much farther there is to go when it comes to Native representation. “But to hear his story is to know where we’ve come from,” Orange notes, “despite the setbacks Native people encounter when even dreaming of making it onto the screen. And that’s a narrative that fills me with hope.”

Come rain, come shine

Another day and another 50% chance of showers and thunderstorms after noon (some of the storms could produce heavy rain, according to the National Weather Service). Otherwise, it will be mostly sunny, with a high near 83 degrees and north wind 5 to 10 mph becoming south in the afternoon. Chances for rain decrease to 30% this evening.

Thanks for reading! The Word does not have any international travel planned in the immediate future, but thinks this heat map where you can search for COVID-restrictions and such by destination is/will be useful.

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