Morning Word

Santa Fe Public Schools Return on Monday to In-Person Learning

LFC: Changing pre-trial detention won’t curb crime

COVID-19 by the numbers

New Mexico health officials yesterday reported yet another record-breaking number of new COVID-19 infections: 6,010, bringing the statewide total so far to 431,887; DOH has designated 329,179 of those cases as recovered. The statewide test positivity rate rose slightly from 28.3% to 28.7% (the target is 7.5%).

Bernalillo County had 1,549 cases, followed by Doña Ana County with 615 and Santa Fe County with 515—237 of them in the 87507 ZIP code, which ranked third in the state for the most new cases among ZIP codes.

The state’s most recent vaccination report shows over the four-week period between Dec. 20 and Jan. 17, 57% of cases were among those not fully vaccinated, as were 80.7% of hospitalizations and 93.8% of deaths.

The state also reported 24 additional deaths, 17 recent, including a Santa Fe County woman in her 60s who had been hospitalized and had underlying conditions. Santa Fe County has now had 218 deaths and there have been 6,229 statewide. As of yesterday, 712 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, a nearly 14% increase from the day prior.

Yesterday, the number of New Mexicans over the age of 18 with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine reached 90% (90.1%, to be exact). “This is an incredible milestone for our state, and I want to thank every New Mexican who has helped to make this possible,” DOH Deputy Secretary Dr. Laura Parajón said in a statement. Among the same demographic, 76.5% have completed their primary vaccination series and 39.9% have had a booster shot. In the 12-17-year-old age group, 68.6% of people have had at least one dose and 58.5% have completed their primary series. Among children ages 5-11, 33.3% have had at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine and 22.1% have completed their primary series. In Santa Fe County, 99% of people 18 and older have had at least one dose and 86.2% have completed their primary series.

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 the updated guidelines for quarantine and isolation here.

You can order free at-home COVID-19 tests here and access the DOH testing directory here.

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

SFPS returns to in-person learning

Santa Fe Public Schools announced yesterday students and teachers will return to in-person learning on Monday, Jan. 24. “We believe it’s in the best interests of students to return to school given that we are seeing a downward trend in positive cases reported to the district,” Superintendent Hilario “Larry” Chavez said in a statement, noting that when the district decided to shift to remote learning for this past week, cases were averaging 80 to 90 a day. “Since the pause, this average is down to 30 cases per day,” Chavez said. “Going remote helped slow the spread of COVID in our schools. Given this improvement, we’re pleased to welcome students back to classrooms on Monday.” In addition to a decline in cases, Chavez said he had been assured that the health department’s school testing contractor, Premier Medical Group, will have sufficient rapid antigen tests to ensure student and staff safety. Per the state Public Education Department’s recent toolkit updates, SFPS on Monday will reduce self-isolation and quarantine from ten days to five days. A news release says students and staff should wear 3-ply disposal or KN95 masks to school and that masks can be obtained at all SFPS school and district sites. “While we are continuing to see large numbers of vacancies due to COVID-related absences, we will continue to make the best decisions possible with the tools at hand and will pivot if necessary when new information becomes available,” Chavez said.

LFC says pre-trial detention bill won’t deter crime

One of the big ticket-items on the governor’s criminal justice agenda received pushback this week from Legislative Finance analysts, who say changing the state’s pre-trial detention law won’t decrease crime. HB5, sponsored by state Rep. Marian Matthews, D-Albuquerque and state Rep. William Rehm, R-Albuquerque (among others) would create a rebuttable presumption in some cases to prevent people from receiving pre-trial release. In response to the critical LFC study, the governor’s spokeswoman told the Albuquerque Journal if “a rebuttable presumption saves even one life, prevents one family from losing a loved one—and it will—then we will support it.” In other leg news, proposed legislation, SB108, sponsored by Sen. Michael Padilla, D-Albuquerque, would exempt Social Security income from income tax and has backing from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who said in a statement yesterday that ending it would lift “one more burden from the shoulders of New Mexico seniors living on fixed incomes.” SB49, sponsored by Albuquerque Democrats Sen. Bill Tallman and Martin Hickey also proposes lifting the Social Cecurity income tax in a bill that would increase taxes on tobacco products. Think New Mexico, which has been working on issues related to retirement security in the state for several years, backs Tallman’s bill. Another bill supporting the governor’s agenda this session is in the Senate Indian, Rural and Cultural Affairs Committee; SB39, sponsored by Democrats Sen. Benny Shendo of Jemez Pueblo and Rep. Harry Garcia from Grants, the so-called “Buy New Mexico” initiative, proposes changes to the state procurement law to increase preferential bidding for New Mexico businesses. The House reconvenes this morning at 11:30 am; the Senate will be back on Monday.

Developer pursues new subdivision near Railyard

The former Alvord Elementary School on Paseo de Peralta will become a new housing subdivision if developer David Barker receives the green light. While the western portion of the property would house the proposed 10-lot subdivision, Barker hopes the playground to the east will be zoned to allow buildings up to 48 feet tall (current zoning regulations cap building heights up to 36 feet on some parts of the property and 28 feet high on others). Plans for the portion with the proposed higher zoning, however, remain unknown. Needless to say, neighbors have concerns and questions. “Building high-end development in this part of town is going to further alienate Santa Feans and make it less affordable for people,” Lucy Foma said during an Early Neighborhood Notification meeting Wednesday evening. Barker acknowledged at the meeting the subdivision is not intended to provide affordable housing. Rather, he will contribute a fee-in-lieu to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, as allowed under the city’s Santa Fe Homes Program Ordinance. Residents also expressed concerns that Barker hasn’t specified plans for the area in which he wants higher buildings, and about a proposed exit for emergency vehicles connecting the property to the dead-end Adolfo Street. “It’s designed to keep us out and let other people who are moving here in,” said neighborhood resident RoseMary Diaz (Santa Clara Pueblo), whose daughter once attended Alvord. “That’s the bottom line.”

Listen up

What do climate change, Christian theology and white supremacy have to do with one another? To find some answers, we turn to better minds, such as Larry Rasmussen, professor emeritus at Union Theological Seminary, who discusses what both religious and secular folks might be able to learn from communities of faith in an interview with Laura Paskus, New Mexico environmental reporter, author and host of the NM PBS program “Our Land.”

Teen talk

The New York Times spotlights two New Mexico teens who participated in the newspaper’s regular Learning Network online conversations, responding to writing prompts about “if they had ever been surprised by an act of generosity” and to discuss “the things that disgust them and to share a story or memory inspired by an image taken at a candy store.” New Mexico teen Bronson responded to the first question saying he was surprised when a group of teachers contacted him after he missed a month of school: “And you may be thinking, why would you be happy? They told on me for not being here but it’s the fact that they cared enough about me to step in and try to make me better as a person. Most teachers wouldn’t even say anything, the less students the less trouble, but they cared enough to want me there and make myself better instead of running from my problems.” For the second question, Rachel said she feels disgusted by cotton balls “because of the texture and sounds it makes when it is used. It makes me anxious to touch one or even look at one so I avoid them at all costs. When removing my nail polish, I only used Q-tips, and when I open a fresh bottle of vitamins I have my family take the cotton ball used to preserve the freshness.” No New Mexico teens were quoted regarding their candy store memories.

On the wall

A recent feature from Inspire Design on inspired wall coverings clued us into “Laguna,” apparently the newest addition of wall coverings from Wolf-Gordon’s Origins collection of patterns inspired by artifacts housed in the Museum of New Mexico. “Laguna was inspired by textiles from the Museum of New Mexico, which include serapes and wool blankets,” Michael Loughlin, Wolf-Gordon design director says in the story. “The pattern’s large-scale striations and soft color palette were inspired by New Mexico’s dramatic landscape of banded rock formations, specifically the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National park.” In a news release last fall announcing the new wall covering, the company says its collaboration with the museum began in 2007. In the case of Laguna, its “large-scale striations and natural hues are reminiscent of Southwestern rock formations, but also pay homage to the region’s rich craft heritage. Laguna’s soft linear bands are inspired by traditional Navajo wool blankets, which are featured throughout the museum’s collection. The earliest examples from skilled Navajo craftspeople exhibit simple striped patterns, which were tightly woven on hand-operated looms. The pattern is named for an indigenous [Pueblo] tribe, who bequeathed this weaving tradition to the Navajo in the 17th century.”

Under a cloud

Sadly, all signs of precipitation for this evening have disappeared. Instead, the National Weather Service forecasts increasing clouds today, a high temperature near 44 degrees and north wind 5 to 10 mph becoming east in the morning. The skies will be sunnier throughout the weekend, with highs ranging from the low 40s (Saturday) to the mid 40s (on Sunday).

Thanks for reading! Until she can physically be on a beach in Greece, The Word is making do with a simulation.

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