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New Mex man acquitted in US Capitol riots

Judge acquits NM man in Jan. 6 riots

US District Judge Trevor McFadden yesterday acquitted Matthew Martin, the second New Mexican to appear in court facing charges related to the Jan. 6 riot at the US Capitol. Like Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin, Martin appeared before McFadden without a jury. However, McFadden last month found Griffin guilty of entering a restricted area during the riots, one of two charges he had faced. In the case of Martin, McFadden yesterday acquitted him on all four misdemeanor charges, saying Martin’s actions were “about as minimal and non-serious” as anyone who was at the Capitol that day, the Associated Press reports, and described Martin’s testimony as credible. Martin, whose trial began Tuesday, had said he believed Capitol Police had allowed him to enter the building. He also testified that he had “enjoyed” the day, describing it as “magical,” while acknowledging “some bad things happened.” According to the prosecutors, Martin, an engineer, worked for a contractor at Los Alamos National Laboratory at the time (although Martin said he worked at a different facility). He is the first Jan. 6 defendant to be found not guilty on all charges and told CBS following the trial he was grateful and hoped he would get his job back.

End of an era

The first issue of the Rio Grande SUN was published on Oct. 5, 1956 by four owners: Robert E. and Ruth Trapp and Bill and Hollie Birkett. Lots of New Mexico journalists passed through its doors over the years, many—including this newsletter author many decades ago—cut their teeth working for Bob Trapp Sr. covering Española and Rio Arriba County. Yesterday, Editor and Publisher Robert B. Trapp announced he had sold the paper co-founded by his parents to El Rito Media LLC, a group of investors that includes prominent members of the GOP, including two former New Mexico Republican Party chairmen, Ryan Cangiolosi and Harvey Yates, Jr. Yates is an oil executive who also served as the party’s national committeeman from 2016 through 2020, the president of Cibola Energy Corporation and Jalapeño Corporation, the latter of which is also a named partner in the new media company. Cangiliosi, meanwhile, was deputy chief of staff to former Gov. Susana Martinez. According to the SUN, Trapp will help the new owners with the transition over the next few weeks and Richard L. Connor will replace Trapp. Connor, according to the paper, “has overseen newspaper operations in 10 states across the country, owning and operating a number of dailies and weeklies as well as working as editor and publisher for publicly owned media companies.” Robert B. Trapp noted in the SUN’s story that he watched his parents “come to work every day, literally until the day they died. No one owns a weekly newspaper. It owns you. I’ve got too many things I want to do before I die and I can’t do them and run a weekly newspaper.” The story of the hard-hitting, award-winning newspaper was captured in the documentary, The Sun Never Sets. You can watch a clip from it here.

To your health

We’re running late mentioning National Public Health Week, which started on Monday and runs through April 10. How might one celebrate? The state Department of Health is doing so by “urging” New Mexicans to learn more about public health clinics and services to tie into this year’s theme of “Public Health is Where You Are.” (Kind of a Zen motif, but also reminds us of a scene from Buckaroo Bonzai Across the Eighth Dimension). At any rate, to that end, a health department news release notes New Mexico has more than 50 public health offices located throughout the state with services such as family planning, immunizations (available for children through age 18 and limited for adults), and vital records (birth and death certificates). “New Mexicans need to know that there are public health resources available to support them throughout our state,” Jeff Lara, acting Public Health Division director said in a statement. “DOH works diligently to provide residents with the tools and information they need to make informed choices to lead healthier lives and build stronger communities. This is the core value of public health.” Other programs include Women, Infants and Children; Children’s Medical Services; and preventive medicine clinics.

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported April 6:

New cases: 160; 518,705 total cases

Deaths: 18; Santa Fe County has had 265 total deaths; there have been 7,333 total fatalities statewide. Hospitalizations: 78; Patients on ventilators: 13

Breakthrough cases: According to the weekly vaccination report, over the four week period of March 7 through April 4, 38.5% of COVID-19 cases in New Mexico were among people who had not completed a primary vaccination series; 24.5% were among those who had completed the series but had not received a booster; and 36.9% were among those who were fully vaccinated and boosted. For hospitalizations, those figures change to 61%,18.6% and 20.4%. The percentages shift to 54.5%, 20% and 25.5% for fatalities.SFR asked DOH why breakthrough cases were reported as higher among people who had received boosters versus those who had not. According to Health Equity Communications Manager Katy Diffendorfer, who replied via email with a response from the department’s epidemiology department, the data “does not tell us the effectiveness of the booster vaccine.” Rather, she wrote, “as more and more people get the primary series and booster we expect them to test positive as the vaccine does not protect people 100% of the time. We also believe people who are getting the booster doses are more likely to be engaged with healthcare and have conditions that place them at higher-risk for severe outcomes. We also recognize that the results reported to us tend to be in people with access to testing and are likely more vulnerable than those not getting tested. So when you have a highly transmissible virus (Omicron) that causes less severe disease overall, testing will be biased to the population most likely to be sick enough to request testing and be boosted.”

Community transmission: According to the health department’s community transmission report for the two-week period of March 22 through April 4, only DeBaca County has low transmission. Nineteen counties have moderate transmission; 11, including Santa Fe County, have substantial transmission; and two have high rates of transmission. According to the report, Santa Fe County had 177 new cases during that two-week period and has a daily case per 100,000 population of 8.4. According to the most recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “community levels” tracking system—which uses case rates along with two hospital metrics in combination to determine the state of the virus on a county level—31 of New Mexico’s counties—including Santa Fe County currently have “green”—aka low—levels, whereas McKinley and Harding counties have yellow, or medium, levels. The CDC updates its map on Thursdays.

Vaccinations: 91% percent of adults 18 years and older have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 77.8% have completed their primary series; 46% of adults 18 years and older have had a booster shot; 12-17-year-old age group: 71.3% of people have had at least one dose and 61.7% have completed their primary series; Children ages 5-11: 39.3% have had at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine and 31.5% have completed their primary. SFR noted that the vaccine dashboard recently reported partial vaccinations for children ages 5-11 had decreased to 32.8%; According to Health Equity Communications Manager Katy Diffendorfer, that reporting was in error. Santa Fe County: 99% of people 18 and older have had at least one dose and 87.4% have completed their primary series.

Resources: Vaccine registration; Booster registration Free at-home rapid antigen tests; Self-report a positive COVID-19 test result to the health department; COVID-19 treatment info: oral treatments Paxlovid (age 12+) and Molnupiravir (age 18+); and monoclonal antibody treatments. Toolkit for immunocompromised individuals. People seeking treatment who do not have a medical provider can call NMDOH’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-855-600-3453.

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

Listen up

Where were you on April 1 when recreational cannabis sales began in New Mexico? The hosts of the Growing Forward podcast, New Mexico Political Report journalist Andy Lyman and New Mexico PBS correspondent and KUNM News Director Megan Kamerick were visiting dispensaries, naturally. On the podcast’s most recent episode, Lyman and Kamerick discuss opening day and the long-term potential for the cannabis industry.

In hot water

Dedicated readers of this newsletter (and/or the New York Times) may have perused a recently shared story about hot springs in the US (including New Mexico), and their “21st-century revival” as part of a renewed interest in “wellness tourism.” A current exhibition at the New Mexico History Museum plunges into New Mexico’s specific history with such hot springs: Curative Powers: New Mexico’s Hot Springs (through Sept. 4) includes close to 90 photographs of the state’s many hot springs—ranging from the late 19th Century through the mid 1980s that document their evolution. New Mexico Magazine examines the exhibition, noting “the progression of photos through time highlights the growing infrastructure surrounding the state’s mineral watering holes, as well as changes in the types of visitors to them.” Curator of Nuevomexicana/o History Alicia Romero says “the ownership of these hot springs can determine their patronage,” pointing to contrasts between “the boutique spa experience offered by Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa and the free hot springs available to hikers in the Jemez National Forest.”

Spotlight on deBuys

The UK Independent continues highlighting participating authors in May’s Santa Fe Literary Festival, this time talking with author and conservationist William deBuys, who will be on a panel with the renowned Buddhist teacher and activist Roshi Joan Halifax, for a discussion on deBuys’ latest book, The Trail to Kanjiroba—Rediscovering Earth in an Age of Loss, which emerged when Halifax invited deBuys to join the Nomads Clinic on its extended medical expeditions into remote Tibetan regions of northwestern Nepal. The author talks with the Independent about New Mexico’s ecological diversity, as well as its existential battle with drought. “We’ve gone into a very deep dry period of what climatologists would call a mega-drought, and there doesn’t seem to be an exit point from it,” deBuys says. “More heat means more evaporation—not even the United States Senate can repeal the law of evaporation. That added evaporation guarantees that the drought stress resulting on the trees, animals, and on human society, will be much more, much greater.” Existential crisis notwithstanding, deBuys is looking forward to the literary festival, which he anticipates will “bring a lot of terrific people to Santa Fe and energize and light up a side of our community that hasn’t perhaps had the attention that it deserves.”

High and dry

Overnight temperatures in Santa Fe dipped to the 20s last night, but today’s forecast calls for another sunny one, with a high near 59 and northeast wind of 5 to 10 mph becoming northwest at 10 to 15 mph in the afternoon. Tonight’s lows should be higher, around 31 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. The US Drought Monitor shows all of New Mexico continues to suffer moderate to extreme drought, along with much of the Southwest.

Thanks for reading! The Word thinks this red chile, honey and lime-shrub cocktail, courtesy Edible New Mexico, sounds delicious.

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