Morning Word

NM Won’t Require COVID-19, Flu Vaccines for School Children

SFPD investigates city’s seventh homicide of the year

DOH: No changes to school vaccine requirements

Yesterday, the state health department announced its Health Vaccine Advisory Committee recommends no significant changes or additions be made to New Mexico’s 2023/2024 school immunization requirements, following its annual meeting on the topic earlier this month. According to a news release, the committee’s recommendations are based on those from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization, “as well as local knowledge and subject matter expertise of committee members.” They include: continuation of the 10 current vaccines required for school entry for the 2023/2024 school immunization requirements, such as measles, polio and tetanus. The committee also recommends but does not require age-appropriate flu and COVID-19 vaccines, and “strongly recommends” human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine at age 11 to 12. “Vaccine mandates in schools have been around since 1850 and are designed to control vaccine preventable diseases like diphtheria, measles, mumps, pertussis, polio, rubella and tetanus,” Acting Health Secretary Dr. David Scrase said in a statement. “Vaccine mandates for attendance in school and daycare are necessary to protect all children from communicable diseases in childhood.” The committee recommendations arrive as hospital officials report a rise in pediatric patients due to a confluence of flu, RSV and other infections. “DOH has never required vaccinations for viral respiratory illnesses for school children,” Scrase said, “but we do encourage them this year as we are seeing an influx of young children getting sick with different viruses…and hospital pediatric units are above capacity. Vaccinating children against flu and COVID-19 would help prevent disease spread, severe illness and long-term complications in children.” Health officials are expected to discuss the rise in pediatric cases at a news conference this afternoon (details below in COVID-19 section).

City hires national contractor to help revamp land use code

National land use consulting firm Clarion Associates will lead a multi-phase update to the City of Santa Fe’s Land Development Code, aka Chapter 14, the city announced yesterday. The contract does not yet appear in the city’s online contract database, but reportedly will pay Clarion—which previously worked with the city on historic preservation code updates—$200,000 for completion of the first phase. That first phase will take place in two parts and include a diagnostic review and technical corrections to the code. A second phase will have more substantive changes, while the third will “integrate the city’s updated general plan” into the code. “Our land use code is long overdue for an update,” Mayor Alan Webber said in a statement. “I believe that the future of Santa Fe runs through our Land Use department, as we make our General Plan reflect our community values, modernize our code, and produce land use plans and decisions that will make sure our city’s future is sustainable, equitable, authentic and livable.” A forthcoming “engagement schedule” for the public to learn about and comment on the proposed changes will be released in the spring.

Monday night shooting turns into homicide investigation

Santa Fe Police are investigating the city’s latest homicide following the death of a Monday night shooting victim. According to statistics recently presented by SFPD Chief Paul Joye to the city’s Public Safety Committee, the city has now had seven homicides in 2022, compared to eight in 2021. According to a news release, at approximately 9:40 pm on Nov. 14, SFPD received calls reporting a man down in the roadway near the area of Camino Capitan and Galisteo Road. As police officers were arriving at the scene, 32-year-old Armando Torres Marquez was located in the roadway of the 2300 block Camino Capitan; he had sustained at least one gunshot wound, was transported to a local hospital and died the next day from his injuries. SFPD detectives are investigating this case as a homicide and are currently working active leads. Santa Fe Police Department Capt. Aaron Ortiz tells the Santa Fe New Mexican the agency has identified a person of interest in the case. “It’s still a very new investigation, rapidly evolving,” Ortiz told the paper. “Each and every minute, we’re building this case little by little. And hopefully by the end of it, [it] will result in the arrest of the suspect.” Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Mariah Gonzales at (505) 955-5233.

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported Nov. 16: New cases: 844; 638,055 total cases. Deaths: five; Santa Fe County has had 366 total deaths; there have been 8,689 fatalities statewide. Statewide hospitalizations: 172; Patients on ventilators: five.

Acting Health Secretary Dr. David Scrase, Deputy DOH Secretary Dr. Laura Parajón and University of New Mexico Children’s Hospital Associate Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anna Duran will provide an update on COVID-19, RSV, flu and monkeypox at 1 pm today on the DOH Facebook page and with Spanish translation on Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s YouTube page.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent Nov. 10 “community levels” map, which uses a combination of hospital and case rate metrics to calculate COVID-19 risk for the prior seven-day period, now categorizes eight New Mexico counties as “red” for COVID-19—with high risk—including Santa Fe, Los Alamos, Taos and Rio Arriba counties, along with Bernalillo, Sandoval, McKinley and San Juan (last week, only McKinley County was red). Seven New Mexico counties are “yellow” and the rest of New Mexico’s counties continue to have “green,” aka low, levels. Corresponding recommendations for each level can be found here.

Resources: CDC interactive booster eligibility tool; NM DOH vaccine & booster registration; CDC isolation and exposure interactive tool; Curative testing sites; COVID-19 treatment info; NMDOH immunocompromised tool kit. People seeking treatment who do not have a medical provider can call NMDOH’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-855-600-3453. DOH encourages residents to download the NM Notify app and to report positive COVID-19 home tests on the app.

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

Listen up

New Mexico Magazine, the state department of health and KOB-4 team up at 7 pm tonight to pay tribute to the 2022 “New Mexico True Heroes” on a live YouTube broadcast. The event will spotlight 11 people who went above and beyond in the last year in the areas of health care, education, volunteerism, philanthropy, arts, culture and more. Read more about them here.

Fenn’s treasure up for auction

You may not have found the contents of the late Forrest Fenn’s treasure chest, but now you can bid on and potentially purchase them. Bidding is underway through Dec. 14 via Heritage Auctions for 476 gold pieces, coins, jewelry and other items found in the chest Fenn hid in 2010. As reported by Outside magazine, Jack Stuef found the chest in 2020 and subsequently sold it to Tesouro Sagrado Holdings, LLC, which is now bringing most of the items to auction. Stuef, in a Medium post last week, wrote that he has “no financial interest” in the collection’s “future on the collectibles market,” but has heard from other treasure hunters over the last few years who hoped they could purchase an item to commemorate their adventures searching for it: “I’m happy…those people finally have the opportunity to do so,” Stuef wrote, “with a large number of items from which to choose.” As to those items, they include a 1928 Saint-Gaudens Double Eagle; a 549-gram Alaskan gold placer “roughly the size of a hen’s egg”; and a gold pectoral “meant to represent the sun,” which comes from Colombia circa 200-600 AD, among other treasures. The auction also apparently includes a “completely intact, wax-sealed small glass jar purportedly containing at least Fenn’s autobiography,” about which Fenn wrote: “I…wanted to include something personal with the treasure because maybe the lucky finder would want to know a little about the foolish person who abandoned such an opulent cache. So I placed a 20,000-word autobiography in the chest. It’s in a small glass jar and the lid is covered with wax to protect the contents from moisture. The printed text is so small that a magnifying glass is needed to read the words. I tried to think of everything.”

Notable NM

This newsletter noted yesterday Native American hoop dancer ShanDien Sonwai LaRance of the Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo ‘s local’s guide to New Mexico for Lonely Planet. What we did not grok was the story is part of Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2023 itineraries, which spotlight 30 of the best places to visit next year. Yes, New Mexico is one of them, and identified by Lonely Planet as a top place to “learn” —in this case about Indigenous culture, art and music. The Washington Post also highlights three New Mexico locales in its travel story on visiting UNESCO; World Heritage sites: Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of the World Heritage Convention’s master plan for preserving, protecting and promoting “the world’s most valuable natural and cultural sites.” In New Mexico, those include: Carlsbad Caverns National Park (1995); Chaco Culture National Park (1987); and Taos Pueblo (1992), where the Post recommends visiting on Feast Days and shopping locally for horno-baked bread and hand-made crafts. Lastly, Wanderlust magazine also points travelers to New Mexico to learn about Indigenous culture in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Taos.

Bright and cold

The National Weather Service forecasts a sunny day with a high temperature near 42 degrees and north wind 10 to 15 mph becoming southwest in the afternoon.

Thanks for reading! The Word desperately hopes she refrains from reading Marie Kondo’s new book.

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