Morning Word

Third Ethics Complaint Filed in Santa Fe Mayor’s Race

NM health officials suspect first death from improper ivermectin use

COVID-19 by the numbers

New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 543 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of cases to 238,430. DOH has designated 206,242 of those cases as recovered. Lea County had 108 new cases, followed by Bernalillo County with 88 and Doña Ana County with 74. Santa Fe County had 10 new cases.

The state also announced 15 additional deaths, including the 158th from Santa Fe County: a male in his 60s who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions; there have now been 4,577 total fatalities. As of yesterday, 394 people were hospitalized with COVID-19.

Currently, 78.3% of New Mexicans 18 years and older have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 68.4% are fully vaccinated. In the 12-17-year-old age group, 61.5% people have had at least one dose and 49.8% 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.

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

DOH: Cases dropping while deaths, hospitalizations remain high

COVID-19 cases may be leveling off in New Mexico. “It’s my job to worry, so I certainly don’t want to celebrate too early,” state Epidemiologist Dr. Christine Ross said during a weekly COVID-19 update yesterday, “but I am happy to see this semblance of a plateau.” While cases have been rising among youth ages 5-17, New Mexico has not had the high pediatric hospitalizations seen in some other states. Acting Health Secretary Dr. David Scrase said new data indicates the state’s high vaccination rates among adults is helping children too young to receive a vaccine. “We all need things we can feel good about in this pandemic,” Scrase said. “Every single person today who got a vaccination: You’ve protected yourself, your family and you’ve also protected children in New Mexico.”

In less heartening news, Scrase said the state may have seen its first death from someone using ivermectin to treat COVID-19, which is not authorized for such use and can be lethal. The case will need to be investigated before more information will be released, he said. “It’s mainly a veterinary medicine for parasite infections,” Scrase said, noting there is, nonetheless, “a cult following for this drug.” The state’s Medical Advisory Team, he said, “has looked at it three times. We don’t think there’s evidence to be effective in treating COVID by any stretch of the imagination.” Authorized monoclonal antibody treatments, however, may be keeping hospitalizations lower than projected, although Scrase said hospitals remain beyond capacity and likely will be stretched thin for several weeks; death rates also are expected to remain high, he said. Finally, the health and education departments yesterday also announced a new initiative, backed by a $63 million federal grant, to provide funds and direct assistance to help New Mexico schools pay for and execute mandated COVID-testing programs.

Third ethics complaint filed in mayor’s race

The City of Santa Fe Ethics and Campaign Review Board meets at 3 pm today and will review a complaint brought by Mayor Alan Webber’s re-election campaign against Union Protectíva de Santa Fé for unreported political activity via advertisements in SFR, Facebook posts and other forms of dissemination. For its part, Union Protectíva yesterday filed another ethics complaint against Webber’s campaign (this is the third ethics complaint filed in the mayor’s race, for those keeping count), alleging “bullying, campaign finance violations, ethics violations, exerting unjust influence and general abuse of power.” The new complaint recycles allegations from challenger Alexis Martinez Johnson that the mayor used city resources for political gain by including his campaign logo on flyers for a “Cool Down” event hosted by the city Fire Department. The ethics board dismissed Johnson’s complaint several weeks ago. Union Protectíva newly cites a recent campaign email from Webber that claims “MAGA and QAnon are real in Santa Fe, and they will stop at nothing to take over the Mayor’s office” as examples of bullying. The complaint additionally suggests Webber’s legal defense team, Egolf, Ferlic, Martinez and Harwood LLC, could “exert unjust influence” on the ethics board, and seeks the removal of members Ruth Kovnat and Kristina Martinez for alleged conflicts of interest.

Bad campers

Labor Day brought crowds to the Santa Fe National Forest as expected. However, according to a news release, district rangers reported “not all of our visitors were on their best behavior.” SFR asked Forest Service Public Affairs Officer Julie Anne Overton if she could be more specific regarding locations and incidents, but Overton declined via email. She did, however, write: “I would say that we’ve seen a decrease in people’s basic consideration for their neighbors and hosts. So we wanted to remind folks about some common-sense behaviors that will help make everyone a happy camper.” As the news release notes, “a handful of inconsiderate and/or belligerent campers can pose a safety threat and ruin everyone else’s experience” (this observation seems applicable to all of life). Some of the simple rules to remember in the forest include: not arriving too early or too late; observing quiet time between 10 pm and 6 am; and keeping campsites clean. All-terrain vehicles are not permitted in developed campsites (but you can find a map of where they are allowed here).

Listen up

Summer weather aside, the most important indicator of New Mexico’s fall season has arrived: roasted green chile. Just the sight, let alone the smell, is enough to spark twin Pavlovian responses of joy and hunger ‘round these parts (our pride helps explain the 2019 New Mexico/Colorado chile war). But between COVID-19 and immigration policies, our state’s beloved crop’s future is far from assured. Today’s episode of KUNM’s Let’s Talk New Mexico digs into the issues, and wants to hear from you: What’s your favorite variety of fresh-roasted green chile? What won’t you put it on? And what kind of sacrifices would you make to ensure that small farmers can continue growing chile into a bright green future? The show airs at 8 am. Send comments to or call in live to 505-277-5866. Listen here or at 89.9 FM.

NM welcomes Trigger Warning

The state film office yesterday announced Netflix’s action film Trigger Warning has begun production in New Mexico, with filming take place in September and October in Santa Fe, Lamy, Española, Los Cerrillos, Madrid and Albuquerque. Directed by Mouly Surya and starring Jessica Alba, Mark Webber, Anthony Michael Hall and others, the story revolves around an active-duty Special Forces officer who takes ownership of her grandfather’s bar shortly after he dies, and soon ends up in conflict with the violent gang that killed him. According to a news release, the production will employ approximately 180 New Mexico crew members and 240 New Mexico background and extras. “We are thrilled that our film partner, Netflix, has chosen to bring Trigger Warning to New Mexico, which will feature so many beautiful and photogenic areas in and around Santa Fe,” Film Office Director Amber Dodson said in a statement. “In addition, New Mexico, and particularly the Santa Fe area, offers a place of respite with access to the outdoors for cast and crews when they aren’t working, which is why it is a favorite location for so many productions.”

Capturing Madrid

A New Mexico visitor received an honorable mention in the Washington Post’s annual travel photo contest for her shot of a house in Madrid, which she snapped on an iPhone 11 Pro. Carolyn Miller of Madison, Wisconsin tells the Post she purchased four plane tickets after she received her first COVID-19 shot, one of which was for a June trip to New Mexico. “While traveling with her mother and sister, she contacted a local friend she hadn’t seen in years and took her on a country drive. ‘It was kind of a rainy day, and we went for a walk and I saw this house,’ Miller says. The house, numbered 13, struck Miller for both its simplicity and integer, as she was born on Friday the 13th. “I always consider it a lucky day—any 13th—but especially Friday the 13th,” she said. She plans to print the image on birthday cards for friends who also were born on the 13th day of the month. The winning image, by the way, came from Yosemite National Park.

Hazy daze

Today should be hot and hazy, the National Weather Service says: Widespread haze, to be precise, and sunny, with a high near 90 degrees and northeast wind 5 to 10 mph becoming west in the afternoon.

Thanks for reading! The Word can appreciate Hawaii’s governor wanting to curtail visitors, so the Waimea Bay live cam in Oahu will have to suffice for now.

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