COVID-19 by the numbers
New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 578 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of cases to 239,006. DOH has designated 206,925 of them as recovered. Bernalillo County had 119 new cases, followed by both Chaves and Lea counties with 61 and San Juan County with 42. Santa Fe County had 16.
The state also announced eight additional deaths; there have now been 4,585 total fatalities. As of yesterday, 397 people were hospitalized with COVID-19.
Currently, 78.4% of New Mexicans 18 years and older have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 68.6% are fully vaccinated. In the 12-17-year-old age group, 61.7% people have had at least one dose and, as of yesterday, more than half—50.1%—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. President Joe Biden yesterday unveiled several new federal vaccine mandates, including one for companies with more than 100 employees.
You can read all of SFR’s COVID-19 coverage here.
Tesla partners with Nambé Pueblo
Federal, state and Nambé Pueblo leaders yesterday heralded a new partnership between Tesla and Nambé Pueblo, where the electric car company will locate a sales and service center, marking the first agreement of its kind with a tribal nation. “I hope that this is just the start of partnerships like this to bring economic opportunities to Tribal communities,” US Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-NM, said in a statement. “I can’t wait to see how Tesla and the Pueblo will build on this partnership in the months and years ahead to train workers and employees for good-paying, long-term careers right here in Nambé.” Citing previous green initiatives in her administration, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued a statement applauding the announcement, noting: “Automakers the world over acknowledge that low-emission and zero-emission vehicles are the future—New Mexico is on board, and has been on board, and the rest of the country is going to get on board, too. I welcome any and all good ideas from Tesla and the Pueblo of Nambé about how we can do even more.” At the event announcing the facility with Heinrich and US Sen. Ben Ray Luján, Nambé Pueblo Gov. Phillip Perez described the new project’s location on tribal land as representative of a “historic moment.” Certainly it’s pivotal, as doing so bypasses a state law that bars vehicle manufacturers from selling directly to consumers versus through a franchise dealership.
Meow Wolf job posting indicates anti-union stance
A recent job posting by entertainment behemoth Meow Wolf for an HR director contained what could easily be construed as anti-union language, further straining already tense relationships between the company’s leadership and the Meow Wolf Workers Collective. The job description originally included as a job responsibility: “effectively manage labor union relationships and implement effective union avoidance campaigns in union-free parts of the organization” (verbiage that was removed after SFR inquired about its intent). Neither company nor collective leaders would comment on the ad, but the latter has been publicly critical on social media regarding ongoing contract negotiations, saying management has been “reluctant to discuss proposals that they aren’t legally required to. They have outright refused discussion on certain topics.” Company leadership disputed this characterization in a written statement to SFR and said it has been “bargaining in good faith with the union since March” and will continue to do so in October following the Sept. 17 opening of its new Denver installation, “Convergence Station.” As for the ad, New Mexico labor lawyer Shane Youtz says while the union language might not qualify as union busting, “on its face, it sounds like they’re trying to do everything they can to avoid more organizing within the company.”
Board dismisses mayor’s ethics complaint
The City of Santa Fe Ethics and Campaign Review Board yesterday dismissed the second of three ethics complaints filed thus far in the Nov. 2 mayoral race, in this case allegations from Mayor Alan Webber against Union Protectíva de Santa Fé and other groups alleging illegal political action committee work. The complaint, which the board said lacked sufficient claims “upon which we could grant relief or have jurisdiction,” also accused the organization of “coordinated expenditures” with mayoral candidate and City Councilor JoAnne Vigil Coppler. The board will next consider a Union Protectíva complaint against the mayor’s campaign filed earlier this week, which mostly rehashes allegations from candidate Alexis Martinez Johnson, which the board rejected last month, but also newly accuses the mayor of bullying public employees and leveraging his legal defense team’s connections to the ethics board. That hearing is scheduled for Sept. 28.
Cannabis division enacts emergency rules for manufacturers
Emergency rules for manufacturing cannabis in New Mexico have gone into effect. The Cannabis Control Division of the Regulation and Licensing Department filed the rules on Wednesday, citing worker safety concerns. “Last year two workers were seriously injured in a cannabis manufacturing facility because the company was not following safety best practices,” Regulation and Licensing Superintendent Linda M. Trujillo said in a statement. “To ensure that current workers in medical cannabis facilities and future workers in adult-use cannabis facilities are always safe, the CCD has with the unanimous support of the Cannabis Regulatory Advisory Committee issued emergency manufacturer rules.” The rules create four classes of manufacturing facilities, specify what processes each class of licensee can undertake and what establishes safety procedures. The public will have a chance to comment on the new rules during a hearing in October, but they are in effect immediately under an emergency process. “When workers’ safety is at risk, there is no time to lose,” Trujillo said. “Overwhelmingly cannabis manufacturers in New Mexico are good players. They follow the rules and support their workers. But any chance that another business might flout the rules and put lives in danger is not worth taking.” Under the new Cannabis Regulation Act, the CCD was required to finalize manufacturing rules before Jan. 1, 2022. Producer rules were put in place last month and the division began accepting applications last month.
If Sunday sounds like a good day to curl up with a good writer, Collected Works Bookstore has you covered via a Zoom discussion with celebrated author Sandra Cisneros (The House on Mango Street), who will be talking about Marita, I Remember You: a story in English and Spanish. The story centers on Corina who, as a young woman “leaves her Mexican family in Chicago to pursue her dream of becoming a writer in the cafés of Paris. Instead, she spends her brief time in the City of Light running out of money and lining up with other immigrants to call home from a broken pay phone.” Cisneros will discuss the book with author Carmella Padilla. You can order Martita from CW here or call the store at 505-988-4226; register for the event here.
Fiesta de Santa Fé is nigh, with an early morning Mass this morning, followed by a full weekend of food, music, art markets and more. According to the Santa Fe Fiesta Council, the weekend commemorates “Don Diego De Vargas’ peaceful reoccupation of the City of Holy Faith in 1692,” and marks his reported prayers and promises to La Conquistadora. That conquest also involved bloodshed of the region’s Indigenous people and set the stage for centuries of conflict that continue in present day (in 2018, stakeholders agreed to retire the Entrada, a reenactment of the “peaceful” version of events). As SFR writer William Melhado notes, this year’s Fiesta arrives at a delicate juncture, given a slew of recent events, namely the city’s removal of the De Vargas statue last year and the public destruction of the obelisk a few months later. This week, Melhado spoke with members of the Fiesta Court: Doug Nava, who is portraying Don Diego De Vargas; Christina Isabel Lovato Perea, La Reina; and Desiree Roybal (San Ildefonso Pueblo), who will serve as the Native Princess. Nava has been waiting 24 years to portray De Vargas and tells SFR his plans to use the opportunity to “stop that stigma that the Spanish people were bad people 400 years ago…My purpose of this role is to make the Spanish people proud of who they are. I hear so many times when they say, ‘they’re taking our culture away,’ and I want the Spanish community to understand they really aren’t…I want people to realize you can’t take away 300 years. It’s a matter of just remembering.”
Currier on art and empathy
One of SFR’s favorite artists, Erin Currier (she designed our 2020 Best of Santa Fe cover, which some of us wear on a shirt most days on our morning constitutional), premieres new work today from 5 to 7 pm at her longtime gallery Blue Rain (544 S Guadalupe St.). SFR caught up with Currier to ask her a few questions (three, to be exact) about her new work, her residency in New York last year and the pandemic’s impact on her artistic practice. Currier reflected on the resounding importance of community, which, though already paramount to her, “is now abundantly clear and should be to everyone at this point…There’s been this spirit of, ‘we’re all in this together,’ and pretty much all of us know someone who has been sick or died or lonely or suffering depression or financially insecure. We’ve also seen the opposite: the people in our lives who’ve made huge changes with health or spending time with family or building gardens, and I think it’s really clear, as a collective, that we really need each other.” As for the new work in Passion, Pathos, and the Human Potential, it thematically explores transformation through portraits of iconic figures such as Swedish environmentalist Greta Thunberg, Nigerian ultimate fighter Israel Adesanya and American mycologist Paul Stamets.
Hot take on chile
The Houston Chronicle undertook what we would politely characterize as a fool’s errand to determine whether or not New Mexico’s Hatch chile is “worth the hype.” Specifically, the magazine set out to test one editor’s contention that “Hatch chiles are basically just poblanos and not worth all the banners and specially made products.” To that end, writer Abigail Rosenthal made this recipe from Food & Wine for a Hatch chile salsa, preparing one batch with Hatch chile and another with poblanos. The resulting salsas, Rosenthal writes, “had subtle differences, but among the Chron staff tasters, they were almost indiscernible (and in need of some jalapeños). Our social media editor Sarah Pearce summed it up best: ‘If I was given the salsas separately at a taco truck, I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.’” New Mexico Magazine summed up best our response in a Facebook reply to the article that declares: “This. Means. War.” While some commentators were sanguine about the conflation of Hatch chile with any other, one reader succinctly zeroed in on the crux of the issue: “Obviously, they have no taste.” The Chronicle did nail one truth: Hatch chile season is short, so get it while you can. And be sure to consult New Mexico Magazine’s “Ultimate Guide to New Mexico Chile” for recipes, history and facts about why New Mexico’s chile is better than everyone else’s. Period.
Sometimes a short week feels long, particularly when it’s hot. So it has been and so it shall continue to be, according to the National Weather Service, which forecasts a clear, hot day today in the low 90s and more of the same over the weekend, with temps dipping just slightly to the high 80s. The health department yesterday also issued a safety reminder encouraging New Mexicans to drink lots of water, rest and seek shade when they are outdoors to reduce the risk of heat-related illness. If you’re reading this in a region that reaches triple digits, DOH advises people to remain in cooled indoor places as much as possible. According to the state, data analysis by the New Mexico Environmental Public Health Tracking Program found 86 degrees to be the temperature at which people go to the hospital for heat-related health problems.
Thanks for reading! To mark tomorrow’s 20th anniversary, The Word plans to read this Smithsonian magazine story that examines 31 artifacts “that help unravel the complex story of 9/11 and its aftermath.”