Morning Word

Redistricting Legislative Session Kicks Off Next Week

Baldwin reveals new details on “Rust” prime-time interview

COVID-19 by the numbers

New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 2,054 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of cases to 318,135; DOH designated 268,279 of those cases as recovered. Bernalillo County had 610 new cases, followed by Doña Ana County with 298 and Sandoval County with 137. Santa Fe County had 95. DOH reported the statewide test positivity rate at 14.2%, well above the 7.5% target.The state also announced 14 recent deaths; there have been 5,393 total fatalities statewide.

As of yesterday, 655 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, 12 more than the day prior. Currently, 86% of New Mexicans 18 years and older have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 74.5% are fully vaccinated. Among that demographic, 23.8% have had a booster shot. In the 12-17-year-old age group, 64.7% of people have had at least one dose and 55.6% are fully inoculated. Among children ages 5-11, 17.4% have had at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine and 1.5% are fully vaccinated. In Santa Fe County, 97.1% of people 18 and older have had at least one dose and 84.3% are fully vaccinated.

Officials yesterday amended New Mexico’s emergency public health order to require certain workers to receive a booster shot when eligible to protect against the ongoing spread of COVID-19. The state has for months required that many workers in higher-risk environments—including workers in all health care and congregate-care settings—be vaccinated.The amendment calls for those workers to receive a booster dose no later than Jan. 17, 2022, or within four weeks of becoming eligible.

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.

Redistricting session kicks off Monday

Lawmakers will convene Monday in a special legislative session on redistricting. Though she had earlier signaled the plan, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued the official proclamation on the session yesterday. Now that it’s gone out, legislators who are running for office are prohibited by state law from collecting campaign donations until after the session ends. Another blackout period on fundraising will include the regular session, which begins on Jan. 18. The state’s Citizen Redistricting Committee chose three maps each for New Mexico’s US House, both chambers of the Legislature and the Public Education Commission, but lawmakers can also propose their own maps or amend those recommended by the committee. Find the Legislature’s DIY redistricting files here. “A fundamental part of our American democracy is ensuring that all voters are represented, and the redistricting effort will make sure that the right of all New Mexicans to vote is complemented by fair representation through their elected officials,” Lujan Grisham wrote in a news release. “I look forward to a productive and collegial session and know lawmakers and legislative leadership will as always carry out the people’s business thoughtfully and respectfully, in a way that honors this important work.” Proof of vaccination is required for Roundhouse visitors; sessions will be webcast here.

Baldwin says he cocked hammer on gun before bullet flew

Actor Alec Baldwin’s hourlong prime-time interview on ABC News with George Stephanopoulos revealed some so-far unknown details of what happened in the accident that killed Halyna Hutchins on the set of Rust and his own response. Perhaps of critical importance is his explanation that he was following instructions from Hutchins as the cast and crew worked to set up a scene. “Halyna and I both had something profound in common, and that is that we both believed the gun was empty other than those dummy rounds,” he said. Baldwin told Stephanopoulos he partly cocked back the hammer on the Colt .45-caliber revolver as he pointed it in the direction Hutchins instructed—aimed in the general area of her own armpit. “I let go of the hammer of the gun, and the gun went off,” he said. Baldwin also said he didn’t know that Hutchins had died until he was told by Santa Fe County sheriff’s deputies while he made a statement following the incident.

While attorneys who have filed civil suits against the production and others have claimed sabotage on the set, Baldwin discounted that theory. “That’s an enormous charge to make, that someone came and did something, for what purpose?” Baldwin said. “To attack who? To discredit who? To harm me? The production? What was their motive in doing that, if somebody did that?” No criminal charges have been filed in the case. Baldwin also speculated that if they’re filed, he won’t be the target. One possible target is Hannah Gutierrez Reed, the film’s armorer responsible for weapon safety. While Gutierrez Reed has said she believed the bullets loaded in the gun Baldwin used were blanks, witnesses and the investigation so far indicate the presence of multiple rounds of live ammunition during the production. Asked whether there were red flags about Gutierrez Reed’s performance, Baldwin said “I assumed because she was there and she was hired, that she was up for the job.” Watch the program in three segments on the ABC News YouTube channel.

Survey’s in on cannabis equity

People who want to be part of the burgeoning cannabis industry have reported back in a survey about barriers to entry, eligibility criteria for those applying for equity assistance and strategies the state should use to assist equity applicants. Income and access to capital also came up again and again. The New Mexico Cannabis Advisory Committee asked what criteria should qualify people for programs under development and some of the most popular ideas were: a household income below 80% of the average median income in the state for 2019 and residency for the past five years in a census tract where at least 17% of the households have incomes at or below the federal poverty level. For potential business owners, respondents said the biggest barrier to entry is a lack of access to capital. For workers, a lack of access to training and education were top responses. Wages were also listed as a concern.New Mexico’s legalization scheme requires the state to enact procedures that promote and encourage participation in the industry by people whose communities have been disproportionately harmed by prohibition, no later than Jan. 1, 2022.

Listen up

The (substitute) Word has dabbled with running, including past participation in the Corrida de Los Locos when it was held at the Marty Sanchez Golf Course in the bitter February cold. But given the warm weather we’re experiencing now, people who are still sort of into running can stay into it for longer. Which led us to stumble across the Running New Mexico podcast, wherein host and coach Seb Romero recently featured Sophia Torrez, a Pojoaque High School graduate and UNM cross country state champ who won the Mt. Taylor 50K this year as well as the Taos Ski Valley Up and Over race, and also an artist.

Getting to The Hill

A major intersection in Los Alamos is set to get an upgrade following an agreement for the National Nuclear Security Administration to allocate $3.5 million in new investment. Upon completion, a four-way intersection with additional lanes and safety features will improve the flow of daily traffic through the intersection of NM4 and East Jemez Road that leads west to LANL and south to White Rock. Officials expect it will reduce commute times for lab workers. Additionally, according to a news release, the work will facilitate the National Park Service’s creation of a new parking area at Bandelier National Monument’s Tsankawi unit east of the intersection. In case you were wondering, it’s nowhere close to the section of the same highway that saw a dramatic rock slide this week, however. The photos of boulders covering both lanes of traffic Wednesday are harrowing, but the road reopened soon thereafter.

Warmer winters signals trouble for NM ski areas

Christmas is still four weeks away, but the long-range forecasters at AccuWeather looked to key patterns that could favor snow in time for the holidays this winter. The upshot for New Mexico? We’ve got about the same shot at a white Christmas as recent years—a low one. So far, the cold season has been anything but—it hasn’t snowed in Denver in 225 days—and the warmer winter outlook has ski basins relying on snowmaking. Angel Fire Ski Area announced it would stall its planned opening for a week. “While this was a hard decision for us to make, the mountain is experiencing a powerful temperature inversion that is limiting the resort’s ability to make snow. Warmer than normal temperatures along the ski slopes make it challenging for the snow guns to produce quality snow,” explained Greg Ralph, director of marketing, Angel Fire Resort. “Forecasts are predicting colder temperatures and more natural snow as the storm track returns to New Mexico later next week.” New Mexico State Climatologist David DuBois, also a winter sports enthusiast, tells SFR the impact of climate change on northern New Mexico’s winters will force industries like ski resorts to adapt. “How do we still maintain, you know, our lifestyle and cultures and all the great stuff that we have in New Mexico with a changing...scenario for the winters?” DuBois says. The challenge is also an opportunity to “figure out new things and change the way we have done things in the past.”

Weekend outlook

Temperatures continue to be above normal today, with the National Weather Service forecasting weather in Santa Fe about the same as yesterday: a high near 60 degrees. The overnight low will be a bit lower at 29 degrees. Saturday and Sunday are also looking to be rather balmy, with highs reaching about 59 degrees and low winds peaking at 15 mph. But, hark! There’s a 20% chance of snow on the books for Monday night when things are supposed to act a bit more wintery.

Thanks for reading! The Pacific Garbage Patch, AKA the floating piles of garbage in the ocean, has long been fascinating and depressing, so this little tidbit on scientists who documented more than 40 coastal species clinging to the plastic trash is somehow...uplifting?

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