Morning Word

Otero County Certifies Election Results as Griffin Fined, Sentenced to Time Served

CDC approves COVID vaccines for kids under 5

Aid-in-dying law expanded options for New Mexicans

This weekend marked one year since New Mexico adopted its medical aid in dying law allowing terminally ill patients to obtain medication to end their lives. A nonprofit advocacy group says it is aware of more than 100 people who accessed the medicine, 90% of whom were enrolled in hospice and whose deaths were attended by clinicians at the bedside. “This new law is a powerful reaffirmation of the right to self-determination that allows us to make our own healthcare decisions and have a measure of control regarding our end-of-life options,” Barak Wolff, board chairman of nonprofit End of Life Options New Mexico, said in a statement, noting, “Some seriously ill folks will want to pursue every possible treatment with the intent of living as long as possible...while others may be suffering physically and/or existentially and they may choose to hasten their death by using medical aid in dying or other available options. There is no right answer. It is for each of us to decide, if we are fortunate enough to have such choices available to us.” New Mexico was the 11th jurisdiction in the US to authorize medical aid in dying as one of the choices available to qualified individuals at the end of life.

Otero County commissioner sentenced, election returns certified

On Friday, a federal judge sentenced Otero County Commissioner and Cowboys for Trump founder Couy Griffin to 14 days behind bars and fined him $3,000 for illegally entering the US Capitol grounds on Jan. 6, charges for which he was found guilty in late March. Griffin served 20 days in pre-trail detention, so he’s already credited with time served on his sentence. He must also perform community service and submit to one year of supervision. The same day as the sentencing, Griffin appeared via telephone for an emergency meeting of the Otero County Commission. The commission, in its role as the county canvassing board, had previously refused to certify the county’s June primary election results, but voted Friday to affirm them 2-1, with Griffin voting no. Commission Chairwoman Vickie Marquardt argued that she was “being forced to approve” results under the threat of jail time or removal from office, but also said Otero County Clerk Robyn Holmes had “taken care of” many questions commissioners had posed. The state Supreme Court issued an order last week—following an emergency request from Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver—compelling the commission to certify the election results because it had “identified no deficiency in the election results, but rather made unsubstantiated claims about the voting systems in use throughout the state.” Griffin said his reason “to remain a no is not based on any evidence, it is not based on any facts, it’s only based on my gut feeling and my own intuition and that’s all I need.”

Into the woods

ICYMI, following last Thursday’s rain and ahead of forecasted storms, the City of Santa Fe on Friday let the emergency declaration closing trails expire and reopened them. According to a news release, the city will continue to “monitor the actual precipitation received, as well as proper use of the trails and adherence to fire restrictions, to determine if future closure orders need to be implemented.” Other restrictions remain in place, including: the sale or use of some fireworks within the city; smoking in any public park or area; using charcoal barbecue grills in public parks and recreation areas; open burning, including campfires, bonfires, pit barbecues; burning of weeds or trash; using ATVs or motorcycles in city open spaces, parks and trails. Firefighters on the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire say rain is slowing the fire’s progress. As of Sunday night, it had burned 341,471 acres with 72% containment. Officials predict conditions across the north zone to “remain moist, with smoldering and creeping fire behavior,” and wetting rain in the south zone. US Forest Service Operations Section Chief Jayson Coil said in a video update Sunday morning, however, that containment efforts will need to continue. “We anticipate to keep getting rain over the fire over the next several days,” he said. “We don’t anticipate the fire to grow very much at all, but I don’t think it’s going to put it out. Not unless this keeps up for some time.”

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported June 17:

New cases: 1,283; 551,614 total cases

Deaths: 11; Santa Fe County has had 307 total deaths thus far; there have been 7,883 total fatalities statewide. Hospitalizations: 157. Patients on ventilators: 19.

Vaccines for children: The Food and Drug Administration on Friday authorized the use of Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for children aged 6 months through 5 years. On Saturday, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention followed with a recommendation. Case rates: According to the most recent DOH report on geographical trends for COVID-19, for the seven-day period of June 6-12, Los Alamos County had the highest daily case rate per 100,000 population in the state: 133.3, followed by Cibola and Grant counties at 75.7 and 75.4, respectively. Santa Fe County has the fifth highest at 64.8.

Community levels: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “community levels” tracking system—which uses case rates along with two hospital metrics in combination for its framework—for the seven-day period of June 9-15, nine counties show high—or “red”—levels—seven more than last week. Twelve counties, including Santa Fe County, are classified as having yellow or “medium” levels. CDC recommendations for individuals and communities based on the community-level rankings can be found here, but include the recommendation for people living in counties with “high” community levels to wear masks indoors and on public transportation. The CDC updates its map every Thursday.

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

In the most recent episode of Santa Fe Public Schools Inside SFPS podcast, host Public Information Officer Cody Dynarski talks with Georgia Baca, the former principal at EJ Martinez Elementary and newly named principal at Milagro Middle School. Dynarski and Baca discuss her transition to Milagro and what she looks to accomplish; standards-based teaching and learning; and other subjects. “I really fell in love with the age group,” Baca says about a previous stint with middle school students at Ortiz Middle School. Baca herself is a graduate of SFPS, attending Piñon Elementary, Capshaw Junior High and Capital High School.

We could be #1

Enjoy seeing Santa Fe receive national recognition? You can help make it happen. The Railyard District is one of 20 spots in the running for USA TODAY’s 10 Best Readers’ Choice Award for 2022 in the “best arts district” category. The contest describes the Santa Fe Railyard thusly: “A few blocks southwest of the Santa Fe Plaza, the Railyard Arts District features several leading art galleries, including the contemporary powerhouse SITE Santa Fe, within a series of warehouses within walking distance of each other.” Our competition includes arts districts in Houston, Denver and Los Angeles, to name a few. “No two of these 20 nominees for Best Art District are the same, nor do they offer the same experience, but they all culturally enrich their cities and those who visit,” USA Today proclaims. You can vote daily until noon, July 4. Winners will be announced on July 15. And speaking of the Best of Santa Fe and the Railyard, SFR’s annual Best Of issue publishes July 27 and we’ll be partying in the Railyard July 29.

Thinking in clay

The New York Times visits Española to talk with Rose B. Simpson (Santa Clara Pueblo), to talk about her art practice. Simpson “belongs to a long line of ceramic artists there going back hundreds of years. But instead of making the sturdy, glossy red or black pottery her pueblo is known for, she’s gaining art-world acclaim for her powerful androgynous figures of clay, often with metal adornments that look like jewelry or armor or both,” the Times writes. Simpson shows off her 1985 Chevy El Camino, “Maria,” named after Tewa potter Maria Martinez in her metal-working shop, before the interview moves to her ceramics studio, where numerous pieces she’s created are on their way to the East Coast, including a series of 12 slender cast-concrete figures headed to the Field Farm in Williamstown, Mass. this month; ICA Boston in August; and in October the the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia. “I think in clay,” she tells the Times. “Clay was the earth that grew our food, was the house we lived in, was the pottery we ate out of and prayed with. So my relationship to clay is ancestral and I think it has a deep genetic memory. It’s like a family member for us.”

Puddles and preparedness

Widespread moderate to locally heavy rainfall is forecast to impact the region through at least Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service, which forecasts a 20% chance of showers and thunderstorms after 3 pm in Santa Fe today with a high near 77. That’s mostly good news, except for in fire burn scars, where major flash flooding and debris flows are possible. State emergency managers and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham gave a livestreamed public address Friday to discuss those threats.

Thanks for reading! The sun rose on Juneteenth in Santa Fe with rain and set with commemoration on the Plaza...and, thankfully, more rain.

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