Morning Word

NM Film, TV Workers Head Back to Work as Strike Averted

Gov: COVID-19 indoor mask mandate extended as hospitals remain full

COVID-19 by the numbers

New Mexico health officials on Friday reported 801 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total so far to 263,755; DOH has designated 233,773 of those cases as recovered.

Bernalillo County had 200 new cases, followed by 114 in San Juan County and Otero County with 69. Santa Fe County had 36 new cases.

The state also announced 11 additional deaths, 10 of them recent; there have now been 4,930 total fatalities. As of Friday, 332 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, 37 fewer than the day prior.

Currently, 81.1% of New Mexicans 18 years and older have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 71.6% are fully vaccinated. In that same age group, 5.3% have had a booster shot. In the 12-17-year-old age group, 62% of people have had at least one dose and 53.5% are fully inoculated. In Santa Fe County, among those 18 years and older, 91.8% have had at least one dose and 81.7% are fully vaccinated.

New Mexico on Friday extended its indoor mask mandate through at least Nov. 12 in response to ongoing high occupancy at hospitals. “Many of us just assume that if we develop a serious illness, there will be an ICU bed available for us,” Acting Health Secretary Dr. David Scrase said in a statement. “That has not been the case for every New Mexican over the past six weeks. It is not time to abandon basic precautions. Our hospital and health care partners remain incredibly, incredibly concerned about the serious illnesses they are dealing with, and the pressure placed upon their institutions and personnel by these continuing infections.”

Also on Friday, First Judicial District Judge Jason Lidyard denied plaintiffs’ request for an injunction against Los Alamos National Laboratory’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policy; more than 100 LANL employees have filed a lawsuit challenging the policy. “It is not that their circumstances are not compelling but that the law is simply not on their side,” Lidyard said. “As to the constitutional claims, the Courts have held for over a century that mandatory vaccination laws are a valid exercise of state police power and such laws have withstood constitutional challenges.”

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

IATSE strike averted

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees struck a tentative three-year agreement on Saturday with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, averting a strike that would have begun today and impacted 2,000 film and television workers in New Mexico—60,000 nationwide—and shut down seven productions. According to an IATSE news release, the proposed contract addresses the core issues raised in negotiations, such as reasonable rest periods and meal breaks; providing living wages for workers at the low end of the pay scale; and significantly increasing compensation from new-media companies. “This is a Hollywood ending,” IATSE International President Matthew Loeb said in a statement. “Our members stood firm. We are tough and united.” In New Mexico, Liz Pecos, president of IATSE Local 480, says the agreement reached does not cover New Mexico workers who, nonetheless, called off their plans to strike and will now be negotiating a deal of their own along comparable lines. “There’s still a few more processes that need to happen to make sure film workers in New Mexico will also get those same conditions met,” Pecos told KQRE. “That’s what we’re going to be preparing for in the next few days. The most important thing is we get to head back to work.”

FBI and SFPD say India Palace case still active

On Friday, the Santa Fe Police announced the FBI has assumed the lead in its investigation of the June 2020 vandalism at India Palace Restaurant. According to a news release, SFPD began sharing information with the FBI over the course of the investigation. Based on that info, “Santa Fe Police have not ruled out that persons associated with the restaurant may have been involved in the damage,” and will continue to work with the FBI on the case. “This crime has attracted considerable local and national attention,” Special Agent in Charge Raul Bujanda of the Albuquerque FBI Division said in a statement. “I want to thank the Santa Fe Police Department for all the work they have done on this case. We are determined to find whoever is responsible for what happened at the India Palace and bring them to justice.” For its part, SFPD Deputy Chief Paul Joye said the department is mutually grateful to the FBI and is “committed to continuing our work with the FBI, to ensure that the person or persons responsible for this vandalism are brought to justice.” Anyone with information on the case is asked to call the FBI at 505-889-1300 or SFPD at 505-955-5257. Tips can also be sent to the FBI online.

How would you spend $15 mil?

The City of Santa Fe is slated to receive $15 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds over the next three years to help with its economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, and is taking public feedback on how best to spend the moolah. “We at the city have been hearing from partners and constituents about the greatest needs people in our community are facing in the wake of the pandemic at community meetings, committee meetings and in one-on-one conversations for many months since we learned of our ARPA award,” Community Health and Safety Director Kyra Ochoa said in a statement. You can provide your thoughts online in a survey opened through Oct. 31, available in both English and Spanish. You can attend an online “listening session” at 5 pm tomorrow here and participate in a City Council meeting session at 5 pm, Oct. 27, with a link forthcoming.

Listen up

In the most recent episode of Our Land’s fifth season, correspondent Laura Paskus explores the challenges some people face in exploring outdoor recreation areas. Most hiking trails, state parks and national parks can be difficult or impossible to access without a car and young men of color can face even greater challenges feeling comfortable in such outdoor environments. Guests include Christopher Ramírez, executive director of Together for Brothers, an organization that works on issues related to transit equity and raising young men of color to lead in their own communities, as well organization members David Grubbs, Jr. and Alejandro Villezcas.

Santa Fe in Brooklyn, Proust in Española

Yet another Brooklyn restaurant has opened touting its New Mexico cred (we previously noted Brooklyn’s Ursula, a New Mexico-inspired cafe, run by Albuquerque native Eric See, after a New Yorker write-up last year). Santa Fe BK opened last week on North Eighth Street in Williamsburg, according to Eater New York, flying the New Mexico flag, the and the culmination of years of planning by New Mexicans Melissa Klein and John Watterberg. For now, its menu is small, consisting of green chile cheeseburgers, fries, breakfast burritos and New Mexico piñon coffee. “As soon as we get our liquor license and can dispense margaritas, we’ll open up the dining room and backyard and expand the menu to include red chile and green chile,” Klein tells Eater. The story’s author, Robert Sietsema, purports to having formed an obsession with green chile cheeseburgers upon visiting New Mexico some years prior, with a particular affection for Stop and Eat’s burgers in Española, a picture from which he seems to be carrying with him as he compares the Brooklyn fare. “It looked very like Santa Fe BK’s, and the one I held in my hand was enough to kindle memories—similarly verdant, redolent of mountains, reddish earth and windblown vistas. Call it my Proustian madeleine, if you will.” We shan’t, but good to know.

Eye on Acoma artists

Smithsonian Magazine features Acoma Pueblo artists mother and daughter Rebecca and Amanda Lucario, who will be participating in the prestigious virtual Smithsonian Craft Show “Celebrating American Artistry,” Oct. 23-31. Rebecca Lucario, who has shown her work at the Santa Fe Indian Market since the late 1970s, tells the Smithsonian she learned how to make traditional handmade pottery from her grandmother when she was about 8 years old. “We used to go dig our own clay—well, we still do, but when I was little, she and I would go dig our clay, look for our paint, and gather all of the material and the cow dung that we used to fire,” she said. “We used to do all of our firing outdoors.” Amanda Lucario says while she found the process of making pottery frustrating when she was young, her mother and aunts motivated her and, today, both Lucarios’ work is widely recognized for its artistry. The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the artists, however: “We have respect for Mother Nature,” Rebecca Lucario says. “Even when we sell a piece of pottery, we don’t just leave it. We part with it. We talk with our pottery and wish them well and tell them to bring joy, happiness and good health to whoever purchases them.” For this reason, some artists stopped creating work during the height of the pandemic. “We did not want the virus to affect our artwork,” she says.

Warmer, still windy

Today should be a sunny day with a high near 70 degrees, which sounds nice, but be sure to factor in a southeast wind at 10 to 20 mph becoming southwest as the morning progresses. Looking ahead, temps may drop back down to the low and mid 60s tomorrow, but start to rise again later this week.Thanks for reading! The Word promptly began to read Nicholson Baker’s 1993 essay on the history of the comma when the New York Review of Books offered it freely from the archives, but somehow drifted away and ended up reading the backstory of Starland Vocal Band’s song “Afternoon Delight” instead.

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