It’s Friday, November 12, 2021
COVID-19 by the numbers
Due to yesterday’s Veterans Day holiday, New Mexico health officials did not release updated COVID-19 information. On Wednesday, health officials reported 1,337 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total so far to 288,557, and designated 250,960 of those cases as recovered. Bernalillo County had 385 new cases, followed by Doña Ana County with 212 and San Juan County with 188. Santa Fe County had 32 new cases. A two-day update is expected this afternoon.
The state also announced 13 additional deaths, 12 of them recent; there have now been 5,148 fatalities. As of Wednesday, 490 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, 20 people more than the day prior.
Currently, 83.2% of New Mexicans 18 years and older have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 73% are fully vaccinated. Among that age group, 14.5% have had a booster shot. In the 12-17-year-old age group, 63.4% people have had at least one dose and 55% are fully inoculated. Among children ages 5-11, 0.7% have had at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine. In Santa Fe County, 94.2% of people 18 and older have had at least one dose and 82.9% are fully vaccinated.
You can read all of SFR’s COVID-19 coverage here.
UNM, Presbyterian activate crisis standards of care
Yesterday, Presbyterian’s Albuquerque metro hospitals—Presbyterian Hospital, Presbyterian Kaseman Hospital and Presbyterian Rust Medical Center—announced plans to activate crisis standards of care, currently allowed under the state’s public health order. UNM Health also activated crisis standards of care for its Albuquerque metro hospitals: UNM Hospital and UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center. In a news release, the hospitals said neither would be “deallocating or rationing care at this time,” but that activating crisis standards of care “will allow us to care for our patients as safely and effectively as possible in this environment of unrelenting patient volumes.” In a news conference, Dr. Michael Richards, senior vice president for clinical affairs for UNM Health System, said UNM, Presbyterian and the other health systems throughout the state “have been facing unprecedented challenges as we’ve responded to the COVID pandemic and the impact in New Mexico.” For more than a year, he said, health care systems have collaborated to increase capacity, “but this event has lasted a very long time and the scale of this has gotten to the point where we are now having to go to the next step.” Currently, he noted UNM is operating at 140% of its normal operating capacity and has approached 150% at times. “This really is unprecedented and unsustainable,” Richards said.
NM water boss calls it quits
State Engineer John D’Antonio resigned yesterday citing a lack of financial support to enable him to protect New Mexico’s water resources. The Office of the State Engineer has authority over the supervision, measurement, appropriation, and distribution of all surface and groundwater in the state, and that big job in a time of scarcity was made even tougher by a persistent cash flow problem and what he said in statement to the Albuquerque Journal was “glaring nonresponse” from the Legislature for the last three years. A number of other senior staff are expect to soon retire as well, he said, noting, “we’ve take the agency as far as we can, given the current agency staffing level and funding.” A Rio Grande Compact dispute between Texas and New Mexico has also drawn from the office’s scant resources, he said. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham appointed him in February 2019. Her spokeswoman Nora Meyers Sackett said the governor has raised funding for the office by 17% during her term and “had worked and continues to work to remedy the previous administration’s underfunding and understaffing of state agencies and departments.” D’Antonio served as the state engineer under former Gov. Bill Richardson beginning in 2003, resigning in 2011 after just under a year with Gov. Susana Martinez.
Tenants who had expected to move into the Siler Yard: Arts + Creativity Center next week are facing yet another delay as the project is not ready to open despite a management company advising would-be tenants that a Nov. 15 move-in date was a go. The project under construction on land donated by the City of Santa Fe aims to serve as living/working/communal space for income-qualified artists. With rents ranging from $410 to $1,139 with all utilities included—well under Santa Fe’s market value—demand has been high, and prospective tenants faced stringent qualification and application processes. According to New Mexico Inter-Faith Housing Executive Director Daniel Werwath, the four buildings that comprise the first phase of the complex were set to open in staggered fashion by August. But COVID-19′s supply line issues, materials shortages and state lockdowns, coupled with city approval hurdles, made the deadline impossible to meet, he says. Siler Yard is the first project of its kind in Santa Fe, and kind of like “learning to fly the plane while building it—during a pandemic,” he tells SFR. The nonprofit has made a plan to temporarily house Siler Yard tenants who need help until the space is complete.
As SFR recently reported, the Cannabis Regulatory Advisory Committee on Wednesday unanimously recommended children be allowed in cannabis dispensaries with their parents or guardians—amid concerns over challenges parents might face if they weren’t able to bring their kids with them when buying marijuana. But many questions remain for people who hope to break into the looming recreational cannabis market. On the most recent episode of the Growing Forward podcast, hosts Andy Lyman and Megan Kamerick talk to three business owners about their frustrations navigating the licensing process with the Regulation and Licensing Department and other government agencies. The episode also delves into cannabis’ carbon footprint.
Indigenous views at COP26
Vogue magazine speaks with Indigenous activists on the ground at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, including Jade Begay (Diné) from Tesuque Pueblo. Begay is the director of NDN Collective’s climate justice campaign, a member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council and was a speaker at the World Leaders Summit at COP26. She tells Vogue the Indigenous Peoples Caucus’ central focus at COP26 includes changing Article 6 of the Paris Agreement to acknowledge the rights of Indigenous peoples. “As it currently stands, Article 6 promotes false solutions such as carbon trading and carbon offsetting, which is a market-based solution that displaces Indigenous peoples primarily in the global south. It is also beginning to create land grabs in other parts of the world. Our amendments demand our rights are at the center to prevent further harm to Indigenous communities by governments and industries,” Begay says. Indigenous people, she notes, were “the first climate scientists.” As such, “we’ve understood how ecosystems work longer than anyone else. When it comes to protecting biodiversity, Indigenous people need to be at the center. Our knowledge and expertise around these issues is not always understood or taken seriously.”
Choose to reuse
Forget your supply chain worries and check out the nation’s largest and oldest recycled art show this weekend in Santa Fe. The Recycle Santa Fe Art Festival returns after its 2020 pandemic hiatus and includes an art market, student juried art exhibits and make-and-take art activities. This year also features a panel discussion on the plastic waste crisis and a screening of the documentary by Greg Polk, New Mexicans Taking Action on Plastic Waste, at 6 pm today, moderated by Festival Director Sarah Pierpont, executive director of the New Mexico Recycling Coalition. Expect more than 90 participating artists from across New Mexico, as well as from Colorado, Illinois, California, Arizona and elsewhere; all work consists of a minimum of 75% recycled materials, and a news release notes: “everything from vintage kimonos turned into beautiful earrings to scrap metal sculptures. Artists successfully upcycle trash into treasure, combining recycling and innovation to show creative ways to save our resources, while making one of a kind art. The event demonstrates the resourcefulness of the artists and has grown into a powerful economic development tool for existing and emerging artists.” You’ll find the deets on the festival in this week’s SFR Picks, along with several other happenings for your consideration.
After yesterday’s windy conditions, the National Weather Service forecasts breezes to taper off around mid-day, leaving sunny skies with Santa Fe’s high a bit warmer at 61 degrees. This weekend, look for similar conditions, with a high at 60 Saturday and 62 Sunday.
Thanks for reading! Although she recognizes the futility of her efforts, The Word continues to enter the New Yorker cartoon caption contest; her submission for the latest one was: “I thought Bill was working remotely.”