Morning Word

NM Abortion Providers See Surge from Texas

NM congresswoman visit Afghan refugee site at Holloman Air Force Base

COVID-19 by the numbers

New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 2,510 new COVID-19 cases for the four-day period of Sept. 4-7, bringing the total number of cases to 237,889. DOH has designated 205,886 of those cases as recovered. Bernalillo County had 709 new cases, followed by Doña Ana County with 189 and Lea County with 176. Santa Fe County had 94 new cases.

The state also announced 10 additional deaths, including the 157th from Santa Fe County: a female in her 50s who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions; there have now been 4,562 total fatalities. As of yesterday, 388 people were hospitalized with COVID-19.

Currently, 78.2% of New Mexicans 18 years and older have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 68.3% are fully vaccinated. In the 12-17-year-old age group, 61.3% people have had at least one dose and 49.4% are fully inoculated. In Santa Fe County, among those 18 years and older, 89.7% have had at least one dose and 79.2% are fully vaccinated.

Acting Health Secretary Dr. David Scrase, DOH Deputy Secretary Dr. Laura Parajón and state epidemiologist Dr. Christine Ross will hold a news update on COVID-19 at 1 pm today on the NMDOH Facebook page.

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

NM abortion groups grapple with Texas surge

Leaders of reproductive and health care organizations say the surge of patients coming to New Mexico in the wake of Texas’ ban on most abortions is quickly draining their financial resources. The law, Senate Bill 8, which went into effect Sept. 1, bans all abortions at six weeks and allows private citizens to sue abortion providers as well as anyone who helps a woman access an abortion. The fall-out from the bill, which the US Supreme Court has let stand, has been ongoing in the last week. In the business sector, Uber and Lyft announced they would cover legal costs for any driver who is sued for transporting a customer to an abortion clinic, and some believe the bill will cost the state millions annually in lost business. Politically and legally, Democrats and others are pressuring President Joe Biden to take action against the bill.

Locally, abortion providers and others braced last week for an influx of women seeking abortions. “Every time Texas passes some kind of bill restricting abortion, we see more people seeking care here in New Mexico,” Joan Lamunyon Sanford, executive director of the New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, told NBC News. “And this time, with S.B.8., the worst, most restrictive we’ve ever seen, we’re definitely preparing to serve a significant number of additional patients seeking refuge from the new Texas law.” One Albuquerque clinic told the Texas Tribune that the day before the law went into effect, every patient who had booked an appointment online came from Texas, and the clinic was booked for weeks by Sept. 2. As the story points out, however, only those with the means to leave Texas will be able to seek out an abortion here. “That’s the people that have a working car, that can get time off, who have somebody who can take care of their kids,” Vicki Cowart, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, which covers New Mexico, Colorado and Las Vegas, Nevada, said. “There are going to be thousands of individuals who don’t have that wherewithal, and it’s really particularly going to impact women of color, young women, rural women.”

The New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and Indigenous Women Rising are two state organizations that help people pay for lodging, gas, childcare and other expenses. Both have seen a rise in applications, with Indigenous Women Rising co-founder Rachel Lorenzo telling Source New Mexico that “It has been really stressful to make sure that we have enough money to accommodate, that we have the infrastructure in place that is culturally responsible, that we’re getting the word out to as many funds and clinics and patients as possible.” Lamunyon Sanford tells Source she has a “gut feeling that New Mexico will need to absorb more patients from Texas than other states.”

Holloman to house 5,000 Afghan refuges

US Reps. Melanie Stansbury, D-NM, and Yvette Herrell, R-NM, visited Holloman Air Force Base yesterday, which began receiving refugees from Afghanistan on Aug. 31. So far, 2,000 people have arrived, with the base intending to ultimately serve 5,000. In a news release, Stansbury said she toured the site to learn about how the base is serving the Afghan refugees, and how the federal government can help both the evacuees and the base’s service members. “I am proud that New Mexico and our service men and women are continuing to play a critical role in evacuating and helping to resettle our Afghan allies,” Stansbury said in a statement. “I will be doing all I can to support this mission and those needing help and support as they are receiving vital services on their way to new lives in the United States.” Herrell, the state delegation’s only Republican, prior to the tour raised concerns about “vetting, numbers and resettlement plans.” Both representatives spoke with KVIA-TV about their visit. According to a news release from Holloman, service members built Douglas Village at the base as a temporary lodging area, with Halal dining, religious and recreation areas available, as well as medical personnel to assess and assist anyone with injuries or needing medical care.

CHART jobs attract 150 applicants

The City of Santa Fe says more than 150 people applied to work as paid facilitators for the Culture, History, Art, Reconciliation and Truth (CHART) project. Artful Life, the contractor running the project, says the applicants’ ages range from 14 to 80, and they “represent a wide range of experience and cultural backgrounds” who “live across Santa Fe’s ZIP codes.” According to a news release, CHART co-directors Valerie Martinez and Jenice Gharib have begun reviewing applications and plan to finish a preliminary review by Sept. 18, with the goal of choosing approximately 8 to 12 core team members, including high school interns. Interviews will follow those reviews, with a first meeting taking place during the last week of September and the final team in place by Sept. 30. “We are excited and gratified by the robust response,” Martinez and Gharib said in a joint statement. “The number of Santa Feans eager to participate in CHART already demonstrates an inspiring commitment on the part of the community.”

Listen up

What role will equity play in New Mexico’s cannabis industry? That’s one of many issues Growing Forward podcast co-host Andy Lyman discussed with KSFR’s Interim News Director Bryce Dix in this interview. While the state is now accepting applications for cannabis producers, and the rules governing those producers are now in effect, Lyman and Dix also touch upon the other elements of the industry—rules for manufacturers, retailers and testing facilities, for example—that have yet to be finalized. Growing Forward delves into this topic in its most recent episode as well, and talks to Shannon Jaramillo of SeedCrest LLC about the education and training elements of the cannabis industry.

Land of enchantment and dreams

SITE Santa Fe’s new director, Louis Grachos, tells SFR that in about a year, the museum will feature artist Shirin Neshat, whose project Land of Dreams was conceived and executed in New Mexico. That art project also became a film, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival last week. Neshat talks with the Hollywood Reporter about both the film and the New Mexico portion, saying of the latter that she spoke to close to 200 people in New Mexico in 2019: “from Native Americans to Hispanic immigrants, rich people, poor people, functional and dysfunctional people.” Neshat, who came to the US from Iran when she was 17, said she was trying to “show the diversity that I felt was the fabric of American society. I felt it was important now that America stands at this very important point in history where there is this total shift after Trump, and we are seeing this shift toward bigotry, seeing a rise in racism, in white supremacy, conservatism.” The film version is set in the future and, the Hollywood Reporter says, “is a combination political satire and sci-fi dystopia,” and “is not, unfortunately, all that far-fetched.”

Foraging for beer

Albuquerque Bow & Arrow brewery co-founders Missy Begay (Diné) and Shyla Sheppard (Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara) talk with Native foods historian Lois Ellen Frank in an Outside magazine story about their use of traditional Native American ingredients to produce their beers. Frank, a culinary anthropologist and the founder of the Santa-Fe-based Red Mesa Cuisine (a catering company that specializes in the revitalization of ancestral Native American food) first met Begay and Sheppard in 2020 during an online virtual panel discussion on Southwest food traditions. She met them in person at the brewery to talk, and sample beers, such as the Strange Country Dark Sour Ale and Desert Revival Blackberry Golden Sour Ale. “Shyla and I have so many stories about the ingredients we use and how we came to use them,” Begay tells Frank. “We source local ­ingredients like blue corn. We use Navajo tea, which we hand-harvest. And we use three-leaf sumac, which we purchase from the Navajo Agricultural Products Industry, and ­infuse it into the Foeder-Aged Farmhouse Ale.” Sometimes that mission leads to foraging, such as the quest for neomexicanus, a subspecies of hops that grows wild in New Mexico, the discovery of which “produced what they believe is the first commercially available beer using the wild-foraged ingredient.” The duo represent a growing number of women entering the brewing industry, and a small number of Native Americans doing so. “They have really captured the spirit of the Southwest by using local, native ingredients,” Josh Johns, a co-owner of and the beer buyer at Santa Fe’s Fire & Hops. “Their take on traditional sour beers is unique to New Mexico’s brewing scene, and I love the fact that they are woman owned.” Begay and Sheppard have just opened another tap room in Farmington and their beers brews are sold in more than 50 restaurants and stores in New Mexico.

Some like it hot, allegedly

While the National Weather Service says the state will experience record-breaking heat this week, Santa Fe’s current forecast in the pre-dawn hour predicts a high of 82 degrees today amid widespread haze and east wind around 10 mph becoming west in the afternoon.

Thanks for reading! The Word is considering joining the 100 Days of Dante event starting today and traveling down the nine levels of hell.

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