Morning Word

Advocates Push for Prescription Drug Affordability Board

Famed art critic Dave Hickey dies at 82 in Santa Fe

COVID-19 by the numbers

New Mexico health officials on Friday reported 1,844 new COVID-19 cases—the highest single-day of cases since the end of last December—bringing the total number of cases to 301,937; DOH has designated 256,770 of those cases as recovered. Bernalillo County had 488 new cases, followed by San Juan County with 257 and Doña Ana County with 224. Santa Fe County had 104.

The state also announced 25 new deaths, 23 of them recent, including three more in Santa Fe County: a female in her 50s, a female in her 70s and a male in his 80s—all had been hospitalized and had underlying conditions. Santa Fe County has now had a total of 180 fatalities; there have been 5,263 statewide. As of Friday, 548 people were hospitalized with COVID-19. DOH is expected to provide a three-day update on cases, deaths and hospitalizations this afternoon.

Currently, 84.7% of New Mexicans 18 years and older have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 73.9% are fully vaccinated. Among that age group, 19.2% have had a booster shot. In the 12-17-year-old age group, 64% of people have had at least one dose and 55.3% are fully inoculated. Among children ages 5-11, 10% have had at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine. In Santa Fe County, 95.4% of people 18 and older have had at least one dose and 83.6% are fully vaccinated.

New Mexicans can register for a COVID-19 vaccine here, schedule a COVID-19 vaccine booster here and view a public calendar for vaccine availability here. Parents can add dependents to their vaccine profiles here.

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

Advocates push for prescription drug affordability board

State lawmakers on the Health and Human Services Committee will hear recommendations today on how to control the cost of prescription drugs, which advocates say rose more than 5% last year. Colleen Becker, a senior policy specialist with the National Conference of State Legislatures is expected to present a policy briefing and recommendations to legislators at 9:15 am today (watch the webcast here). At 1:30 pm, the committee will hear testimonies from Health Action New Mexico Executive Director Barbara K. Webber; Katelin Lucariello, director of state policy in the Rocky Mountain region for Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America; Jonathan Buxton, the director of state affairs for the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association; and Kris Hathaway, vice president of state affairs for America’s Health Insurance Plans.

According to NCSL—citing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data—one in three Americans report taking at least one medicine annually with an estimated 19.1% of adults between the ages 45 to 64 taking five or more. In addition, the US Government Accountability Office reports retail prescription drug spending accounts for nearly 11% of all personal health care spending, with one study finding 36% of patients said they don’t take their medications as prescribed in order to save money. In New Mexico, that number rises to 44%, according to a news release from New Mexico Consumers for Affordable Prescriptions. NCSL’s top recommendation is to create a prescription drug affordability board, as Colorado did earlier this year. “It is past time for a change,” Sara Manns, campaign director of NMCAP said in a statement. “New Mexico needs an independent body that can evaluate drug costs and set reasonable rates for consumers to pay. With the establishment of the Prescription Drug Affordability Board, New Mexicans will have an advocate to ensure they are not being price gouged by drug companies.”

Sec. Haaland moves against derogatory place names

On Friday, US Interior Secretary Deb Haaland declared “squaw” a derogatory term and ordered the US Board on Geographic Names, the federal body that names geographic places, to begin plans to remove the term from federal usage. She also a created a Reconciliation in Place Names advisory committee to identify and replace other derogatory names. “Racist terms have no place in our vernacular or on our federal lands,” Haaland said in a news release. “Our nation’s lands and waters should be places to celebrate the outdoors and our shared cultural heritage—not to perpetuate the legacies of oppression. Today’s actions will accelerate an important process to reconcile derogatory place names and mark a significant step in honoring the ancestors who have stewarded our lands since time immemorial.” Squaw, the news release explains, “has historically been used as an offensive ethnic, racial and sexist slur, particularly for Indigenous women.” A database maintained by the Board of Geographic Names shows more than 650 federal land units that contain the term (New Mexico would appear to have 13). The new advisory committee will include representatives from Indian Tribes, Tribal and Native Hawaiian organizations, civil rights, anthropology and history experts, as well as members of the general public.

Famed art critic Dave Hickey dies in Santa Fe

Saturday’s sold-out programs at SITE Santa Fe in conjunction with the opening for the exhibition Helen Pashgian: Presences began with Phillips Executive Director Louis Grachos paying tribute to renowned art critic Dave Hickey, who died Nov. 12 at the age of 82 in his home in Santa Fe. “Dave and I became very close,” said Grachos, who returned as the museum’s director this summer, after previously serving the same role from 1996 to 2003. It was during his earlier stint at the museum when Grachos asked Hickey to curate SITE’s fourth biennial that opened in July 2001: Beau Monde: Toward a Redeemed Cosmopolitanism. “It turned out to be one of the great exhibitions we staged here at SITE Santa Fe,” Grachos said. “And, many of you out there have told me, by far not only the most accomplished but the most inspired biennial.” Two of Hickey’s books, 1983′s The Invisible Dragon: Essays on Art and Beauty and 1997′s Air Guitar: Essays on Art and Democracy, Grachos noted, had indelible influences on him and “many of us in our generation.” As Christopher Knight writes in an appreciation on Hickey for the LA Times, Air Guitar is “easily the most widely read book of art criticism to appear in our time.”

Shortly after curating SITE’s biennial, during his time as a professor of art theory and criticism at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Hickey received the MacArthur “genius” grant. In addition to being an “amazing artist” and musician himself, Grachos noted, Hickey “really inspired all of us. He really changed the discourse of the discussion around critique in contemporary art.” As reported in the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s obituary, Hickey left Nevada in 2010 when he and his wife, art historian Libby Lumpkin, came to New Mexico for positions at the University of New Mexico, from which Hickey retired approximately seven years ago. Hickey discussed both Las Vegas, Nevada and Santa Fe in this essay on “dialectical utopias,” but he was a native Texan, a state with which he had a complicated relationship, Daniel Oppenheimer—author of the Hickey biography Far From Respectable: Dave Hickey and His Artwrites in a remembrance for Texas Monthly. As news spread of Hickey’s death over the weekend, social media began to fill with critics’ and fans’ favorite quotes and memories. But speaking to the Journal on Saturday, Lumpkin said Hickey “would primarily want to be remembered as a teacher. He loved his students. Let me tell you, it’s been an outpouring for him. I’m getting calls from students I’ve never even known.” Grachos had also just spoken with Lumpkin—both she and Hickey had planned to attend SITE weekend’s events—who told him Hickey’s burial service will take place at 1 pm, Nov. 30 at Rosario Cemetery, and all are welcome.

Listen up

As daylight diminishes and nighttime temperatures plummet, our thoughts turn to slippers, sweaters and, yes, stew. Cold-weather comfort food, such as stews and soups, can also be a semi-easy undertaking for those starting a plant-based diet. The latest episode of Animal Protection New Mexico’s podcast Teach Me How to Vegan is all about veganizing childhood favorites such as broccoli cheese soup, Irish beef stew, posole and more. Plus, you’ll find vegan recipes for green chile stew, minestrone, ramen and the list goes on.

Bring the heat

As long as we’re discussing warming cuisine, perhaps mole will make an appearance on one of your upcoming holiday menus? If so, be sure to peruse Edible New Mexico’s winter edition, which includes a feature titled “Cooking with Chiles, from Cuicatlán to Chimayó.” Writer Willy Carleton says he first asked himself whether he could make a good mole in New Mexico several years ago, noting “I would have never known how far down a meandering path this question would take me.” The short answer, he writes, is yes, “but it all depends on the chiles. The longer answer, based on several years of growing chiles, traveling to their origin sites and studying their history in archives, and talking to chefs and farmers in Mexico and New Mexico, is a little more complicated.” Carleton’s investigation leads him to talk to Miguel Villalpando of Nomada Goods, which imports rare, endemic chiles from Mexico and includes conversations with chefs and farmers in Mexico about the threats facing chilhuacle negro. Carleton then turns to New Mexico’s own “rare and fiery cultural treasures.” The state’s “chile nativo, a general term for the landrace chile varieties that have developed over centuries in New Mexico and become uniquely adapted to our high-desert climate and soils, is more than simply a source of pride for many in the state. It is what gives the particular type of slow burn, the lingering smokiness, the smooth and comforting flavor to some of New Mexico’s most distinctive dishes.” The story will both expand your understanding of chiles and the importance of preserving endemic ones, as well as provide three recipes for doing so while making mole: Manchamanteles with New Mexico chile nativo; Salsa Molcajeteada with New Mexico chile nativo; and miso mushroom mole.

We’re a trip

While 2021 has brought a flood of stories about the best ways to enjoy a trip to New Mexico, Thrillist proposes the state itself is a “trip,” as in: “New Mexico Might Just Be the Trippiest State in the US.” Why? Well: “art, tent rocks and aliens are everywhere.” Everywhere. The story goes on to proclaim “New Mexico ranks in the top two weirdest states, and it sure as hell isn’t number 2.” (A great relief given how often we find ourselves at the bottom of lists.) What makes us so weird? As noted: terrestrials, along with nuclear sites, “legal weed,” Breaking Bad and an overall melding of “traditions, history, geology, and straight-up eccentricity.” This makes us, apparently, not just trippy but also “the perfect road trip.” (Gotta love homonyms). To soak up all the weirdness, Thrillist recommends visiting: Carlsbad Caverns National Park; White Sands National Park; Bisti/De-Na-Zin Badlands; plus Taos, Albuquerque and Santa Fe. As for the City Different, Thrillist recommends the usual fare of New Mexican food, margaritas and art—none of which seems particularly trippy but, of course, points visitors to Meow Wolf for its “trippy interactive art installation.”

High and dry

Today will be sunny with a high near 58 degrees and north wind 10 to 15 mph becoming west in the afternoon. Still hoping for some rain come tomorrow night; the National Weather Service forecasts potential precipitation then and Wednesday—a 40% for showers—so keep your fingers crossed or perhaps wash your car.

Thanks for reading! The Word spent quite a bit of time gazing at the moon over the weekend, and now is staring at these photos from Friday morning’s historical lunar eclipse.

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