Morning Word

Health Officials: Crowded NM Hospitals May Have to Ration Care

Gov. Lujan Grisham enacts 2030 conservation goals

COVID-19 by the numbers

New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 770 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total so far to 227,636. DOH has designated 200,471 of those cases as recovered. Bernalillo County had 235 new cases, followed by Lea County with 106 and Eddy County with 57. Santa Fe County had 18 new cases.

The state also announced five additional deaths; there have now been 4,488 fatalities. As of yesterday, 433 people were hospitalized with COVID-19.

Currently, 76.4% of New Mexicans 18 years and older have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 66.9% are fully vaccinated. In the 12-17-year-old age group, 57.9% people have had at least one dose and 45% are fully inoculated. In Santa Fe County, among those 18 years and older, 87.7% have had at least one dose and 77.2% are fully vaccinated. You can read all of SFR’s COVID-19 coverage here.

Health officials say hospitals approaching crisis care standards

On its current trajectory, New Mexico will continue to see rising COVID-19 cases, with hospitals surging toward enacting crisis levels of care in which hospitals may have to ration care. New Mexico health officials in a news conference yesterday shared a wealth of data reinforcing that rising cases and hospitalizations in the state are mostly among unvaccinated residents, with the state also tracking among those in the US with diminishing ICU capacity. “New Mexico, as of this morning, our ICU beds are well over 100%,” Acting Health Secretary Dr. David Scrase said, noting that currently there are 50 people on waiting lists to be admitted to the Intensive Care Unit—an unprecedented situation. “It’s a very harsh and grim reality,” Scrase said. “It’s going to be a very uncomfortable next two weeks for folks needing hospital care in New Mexico.” Vaccination remains front and center, as the state’s rising cases, hospitalizations and deaths—spurred by the highly transmissible Delta variant—remain primarily among unvaccinated people, state Epidemiologist Dr. Christine Ross said. “The take-home message is we have a very, very highly effective countermeasure or tool to use to fight this pandemic,” Ross said.

Gov signs 2030 conservation measure

Yesterday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed an executive order to conserve at least 30% of all lands in New Mexico by 2030. The move to adopt a “30 x 30” framework follows a nationwide effort to protect the nation’s lands and waters (former US Sen. Tom Udall, D-NM, co-sponsored a federal Thirty by Thirty Resolution, which SFR wrote about last year). New Mexico’s plan is state-specific, the governor’s office says in a news release, and “tailored to honor New Mexico’s traditional land uses while promoting biodiversity, encouraging recreation opportunities and protecting watersheds.” The executive order directs several state departments and agencies to “support and implement programs that conserve, protect and enhance our lands and natural environments” using “the best available science,” while taking “a broad view of conservation” that includes “contributions from working lands” and demonstrates “a commitment to equity, including respect for and consideration of tribal sovereignty and self-determination.” In a statement, the governor said the order sets “the wheels in motion to conserve our state’s incredible natural resources and ensure that New Mexico remains, forever, the Land of Enchantment.” Demis Foster, executive director of Conservation Voters New Mexico—one of several conservation groups supporting the bill—noted in a statement that “throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our local public lands and open spaces have proven to be invaluable for the health of our communities across the state.” The new order, she said, “will help ensure equitable access to our public lands and open spaces, address the need for climate resiliency and provide sustainable opportunities to boost our local economies.”

In the weeds

The first rule for living in New Mexico: Never complain about the rain. Weeds? That’s another story. The City of Santa Fe says it’s stepping up efforts to address the “proliferation” of weeds on city medians. “It’s been wonderful to get a good, solid monsoon season, but needless to say, the weeds were as happy as we were to get rain, so we get more weeds in our medians and at intersections,” Melissa A. McDonald, acting Parks Division director and River and Watershed manager, said in a statement. “As a result, we have redirected resources and put more crews in problem areas.” Crews eliminate “unsightly” weeds during routine maintenance on four-week cycles, while “dangerous” weeds (ones that grow quickly and reduce visibility for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians) are the department’s “highest priority,” she said. “In an effort to prevent this game of whack-a-mole in the future, crews will be digging out elms in the fall, winter and spring,” McDonald’s statement continues. “We’ll also be seeding with native pollinators that don’t grow too tall. By allowing certain flowering native species to grow, we keep dust levels down while simultaneously beautifying our streets and providing pollinators for the bees. There have been advancements in availability of effective non-toxic treatments on broad-leafed weeds, and we plan on using them next spring.” Crews are hitting some of the city’s largest intersections in the next few weeks (think St. Francis, Cerrillos, St. Michael’s); residents can view the median maintenance schedule here.

Listen up

KSFR offers its final interview in its mayoral candidate series: Mayor Alan Webber. The incumbent says his top priority if re-elected in the Nov. 2 election, “unfortunately,” is “we continue to battle COVID because of the threat it represents right now. It changes the way our folks live, it changes our economy, it changes kids going to school, it changes parents’ ability to have jobs when their kids are perhaps more at home than before. So, we still have to be focused on COVID.” Webber also discussed climate change, the economy and the city’s new Alternative Response Unit. The interview did not touch on the touchy topic of public monuments. ICYMI, here’s KSFR’s interviews with candidates City Councilor JoAnne Vigil Coppler and former GOP congressional candidate Alexis Martinez Johnson.

A stylish Indian Market

Vogue Magazine clearly has been spending some time in Santa Fe of late, as yesterday it published its third story on the city in the last week or so (one a preview for Indian Market; another a list of reasons to visit). Yesterday, the magazine provided a review, of sorts, of the most recent Indian Market, at which, “community and style thrived.” Writer Christian Allaire (Ojibwe) notes that while Indian Market is a big tourism event for Santa Fe, it “represents something much more important for the participating artists and artisans. Business aside, it’s a time for the Native American community to come back together, visit with friends and family, and get inspired by each other’s creativity.” That was the case for Jamie Okuma, a Luiseño and Shoshone-Bannock fashion artist, who showcased her new collection at the market’s fashion show. “There is nothing like interacting with fellow creatives in person,” Okuma tells Vogue. “Meeting collectors and enjoying being in the presence of other humans outside of family, was something I really didn’t realize I needed.” Sad you missed it? Santa Fe photographer Shayla Blatchford’s fantastic photos accompanying the story capture many of the stylish moments.

Laughing matters

While the headlines in 2021 have been slightly less grim than The Year Whose Digits Shall Not Be Mentioned, let’s face it: Things could be better. Still, always better to laugh than cry when possible, and one can find no better outlet than the annual Santa Fe Fiesta Melodrama, which opens tonight at the Santa Fe Playhouse and runs through Sept. 19, with Thursday through Saturday evening shows and Sunday matinees. This year will also feature a run of shows Sept. 2-5 at Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery (look for a special 4 pm show that weekend on Sept. 3 to avoid conflicts with Zozobra). Directed by Annie Liu and Andy Primm, A Streetlight Named Santa Fe will carry on the Melodrama tradition—begun in 1919—of poking good-natured fun at the local absurdities we’ve come to depend upon from our local news cycles and our politicians. This year’s show will include broad comedy, improvisation and audience participation, so come ready to cheer, boo and hiss. Be sure to grab tickets for this Santa Fe tradition, one of this week’s SFR Picks.

Rain or shine

Another hot day on the way, but this one carries at least a smidgen of hope for rain. According to the National Weather Service, we’ve got a 30% chance for scattered showers and thunderstorms after 3 pm, and about the same likelihood tonight before 9 pm. Otherwise, the day will be sunny with a high near 91 degrees and south wind 10 to 15 mph.

Thanks for reading! As previously noted, The Word has zero craft skills, but is in extreme need of another two gloom boxes to collect local woe at this year’s Zozobra. Help a sister out? The first two people to bring decorated gloom boxes to SFR’s office (1512 Pacheco St., Ste. D105) will receive a pair of tickets to the Sept. 3 burning courtesy The Morning Word. Boxes should be about book-box size—big enough for many glooms, but not so big The Word can’t carry them through a crowded field and up some stairs. Here’s an example of a few boxes of yore and here’s a few more.

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