COVID-19 by the numbers
New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 242 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total to 209,356. DOH has designated 196,698 of those cases as recovered. Bernalillo County had 69 new cases, followed by Eddy County with 33 and Lea County with 24. Santa Fe County had nine new cases.
The state also announced two additional deaths from Bernalillo and Lea counties, bringing the total number of fatalities to 4,402. As of yesterday, 121 people were hospitalized with COVID-19—a nearly 36% increase from the day prior.
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, 47% have had at least one dose and 37.5% 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.
Officials review new CDC mask guidelines
New Mexico Department of Health Acting Secretary and Human Services Department Secretary Dr. David Scrase will provide a COVID-19 webinar update at 3 pm today, which will stream live on the DOH Facebook page and with a Spanish language interpreter on Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s YouTube page. Scrase is expected to discuss yesterday’s updated mask guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends, among other measures, masks for fully vaccinated people in public indoor settings in areas of substantial or high transmission, as well as universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status, due to the increased threat posed by the Delta variant.
The new guidance conflicts with the state education department’s back-to-school guidance released Monday. That document does not require masks for fully vaccinated secondary school students, staff and volunteers, and requires districts and schools to “develop a system for administrators, bus drivers and other staff members to quickly and easily verify whether an individual on campus has provided evidence of vaccination.” The guidance remains in place for now “as we review the latest recommendations from the CDC with our public health colleagues,” Education Secretary Ryan Stewart said in a statement. Officials with Santa Fe Public Schools, where students will return Aug. 6, say they will release guidelines for the district in the coming days. Grace Meyer, president of the National Education Association-Santa Fe, predicts the district will opt for the more conservative CDC recommendations. “Now that we have those guidelines, I think that our district will move towards more cautious implementation of that,” she said. SFPS Board President Kate Noble said that while administrators will make the decision, the CDC’s more uniform guidelines would probably be “easier to operationalize.”
More details released on Tesuque police shooting
Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Deputy Patrick Ficke is back on patrol duty after fatally shooting a man in Tesuque on July 7. Ficke returned to work on July 10 following three days on administrative leave. SFR identified Ficke on July 15 as the deputy who shot and killed 45-year-old Edward Daniel Santana while investigating a stabbing. After refusing to respond to questions from SFR for almost two weeks, the sheriff’s office confirmed yesterday Ficke was the shooter. The office also identified Deputy Blaine Lattin and Deputy Ian Burr as the deputies who fired Tasers at Santana moments before Ficke shot him. A department spokesman says the sheriff’s office considered Ficke’s background—which includes a 2013 arrest on suspicion of domestic violence as well as a subsequent resignation from the Albuquerque Police Department—when he was hired last fall. State Police, which is investigating the killing, yesterday also released a new statement that describes Santana as aggressively approaching officers with a wooden fence post, after stabbing himself in the neck with broken glass, undeterred even after one officer fired his Taser.
Five city candidates hope for public money
Five City Council candidates met the City of Santa Fe’s July 19 deadline to apply for public financing in the November municipal elections, including two candidates vying to represent District 4: Amanda Chavez and Rebecca Romero. To qualify for up to $22,500 in public financing, council and mayoral candidates are required to collect at least one-half of one percent of the registered voters in their districts or the city as a whole, respectively. Council candidates seeking public financing also had to submit individual $5 contributions from 150 voters in their district versus 600 voters for mayoral candidates. Candidates not seeking public financing—all three mayoral candidates this year—have until Aug. 24 to file their nominating petitions with the city clerk. In addition to Chavez and Romero, District 1 candidate Brian Gutierrez, incumbent District 2 Councilor Carol Romero-Wirth and District 3 candidate Lee Garcia also are seeking public financing. Incumbent District 1 Councilor Signe Lindell is not, nor are two of her challengers: Joe Hoback and newly announced challenger Roger Carson. “It just doesn’t seem to give you a competitive edge like it was intended to,” Carson, a Las Campanas real estate agent says. “It was intended to keep everything fair, but the way elections have evolved,” he adds, makes races a “big money game.”
The Jean Cocteau Cinema has been soliciting community feedback on what residents hope to see from the venerable space in the coming years through a Highgarden Hangout series. The final event of the series, at which future events at Jean Cocteau in the fall and winter will be announced, is scheduled for 3:30 pm, Aug. 1 and you can register here. High Garden Entertainment manager Guillermo Tilley talks about the series and the theater’s future with Film Talk Weekly host Jacques Paisner on the show’s latest episode; the segment also includes a conversation between cohost Gary Farmer and actor A Martinez.
One thing after another
No, it’s not your imagination: Between COVID-19, extreme weather and global social unrest, the world appears a little topsy turvy these days. Bloomberg Opinion columnist Niall Ferguson, the Milbank Family Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and former history professor at Harvard, New York University and Oxford, takes a historical look at, to use his words, some of the reasons “poor humanity just can’t catch a break these days.” While history provides myriad precedents for current events, Ferguson lands on research from the Santa Fe Institute as the most “systematic” attempt to understand the rise in social unrest, specifically work led by Edward D Lee that used statistics from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project that spans warfare in Africa since 1997 and hypothesizes “a kind of contagion effect.” Ferguson writes he finds the SFI-led approach “attractive” because “it captures two important realities about the historical process. First, most states and societies are complex adaptive systems, meaning that the interactions of all the multiple elements are very difficult indeed to model accurately and are characterized by emergent properties and phase transitions. Second, the most important characteristic of human societies is the way social networks cause all kinds of contagion, from the spread of novel pathogens to the dissemination of crazy memes like ‘anti-vaxx.’”
All the best
SFR’s 2021 Best of Santa Fe hits the streets and interwebs today, with readers’ picks for…well, everything! Be sure to check it out and make some notes for your dining, art-viewing and shopping endeavors (among other activities). While we aren’t throwing a big party this year, you can get to know the BOSF winners through a socially distant scavenger hunt, in which you’ll use a smartphone to complete clue missions with visits, photos, written answers and more. The grand-prize-winning team earns $100 cash and $100 in food and drinks at Second Street Brewery. You can play alone or with a team of up to three members through Aug. 3 ($10 entry fee per team to support independent journalism). Register here and then download the GooseChase app to your smartphone so you are ready to play.
A July to remember
Today’s chances for rain stand at 40%, according to the National Weather Service, primarily after noon on an otherwise sunny day with a high near 86 degrees and north wind 5 to 10 mph becoming south in the afternoon. We could see a little more rain tonight before 9 pm.