NM COVID-19 Hospitalizations Reach Nine-Month High

NM COVID-19 Hospitalizations Reach Nine-Month High

COVID-19 by the numbers

New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 1,048 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total so far to 296,790; DOH has designated 255,289 of those cases as recovered. Bernalillo County had 302 new cases, followed by Doña Ana County with 179 and San Juan County with 86. Santa Fe County had 33 new cases. The seven-day test positivity rate remains above the 7.5% target at 12.4%.

The state also announced 12 additional deaths, 10 of them recent; there have now been 5,203 fatalities. As of yesterday, 542 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, 40 more people than the day prior, and the highest number since Feb. 1.

Currently, 84.2% of New Mexicans 18 years and older have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 73.7% are fully vaccinated. Among that age group, 16.9% have had a booster shot. In the 12-17-year-old age group, 63.7% of people have had at least one dose and 55.2% are fully inoculated. Among children ages 5-11, 6.3% have had at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine. In Santa Fe County, 95.4% of people 18 and older have had at least one dose and 83.6% are fully vaccinated.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.

Acting Health Secretary Dr. David Scrase, DOH Deputy Secretary Dr. Laura Parajón and State Epidemiologist Dr. Christine Ross will host a COVID-19 news update at 2 pm today; according to a news release, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is also expected to join, schedule permitting. The news conference will stream live on the health department’s Facebook page and with Spanish translation on the governor’s YouTube page.

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

Education chief wants $6.7 mil boost

Public Education Secretary Designate Kurt Steinhaus told lawmakers yesterday the department needs a $6.7 million budget increase, much of which—$4.9 million—will be used to implement plans to address the state’s ongoing deficiencies in educating Native American, non-English speaking and disabled students, as identified in the Yazzie/Martinez lawsuit. The department also hopes to add more than 30 employees to address both the Yazzie/Martinez plans and other priorities in other departments. Lawmakers on the Legislative Finance Committee noted that PED already has close to 60 funded and unfilled positions. Steinhaus said he has filled staffing roles at the department and has interviews set up to try to fill the current position vacancies, but that the new positions are needed to address growing state and federal programs. Some of the additional positions include an equity specialist; early literacy and reading support staff; a racial bullying hotline manager; and Black education curriculum coordinator.

Film Office offers free PA training

The state Film Office yesterday announced a new program to train New Mexicans for entry-level production assistant positions. The free one-day online Production Assistant Bootcamps will start running Nov. 20 and continue through April 2022. They are being offered in partnership with CNM Ingenuity—Central New Mexico Community College’s nonprofit—and arrive as the state’s film industry is both booming and under additional scrutiny following last month’s fatal shooting on the Rust film set. The new training program will prepare New Mexicans to start immediately in production assistant roles, according to a news release, which says such positions can vary in duties to include office work, errands, set up and clean up. Participants “will gain a comprehensive understanding of the basic role of a PA, how to read a call sheet, an understanding of departments and protocols, general terminology, familiarity with equipment, safety training and more.” The class will be taught by filmmaker Alton Walpole (Crazy Heart, Longmire). “Working as a production assistant is like a rite of passage and is an excellent way to get to know all the various departments on a film set and figure out what one wants to do and if this is the career for them,” Film Office Director Amber Dodson said in a statement. “As New Mexico continues to see an increase in production in our state and a demand for a trained and skilled crew, this new Production Assistant Bootcamp will provide a pipeline of trained New Mexicans for the entry-level PA positions needed by productions.” Participants must be New Mexico residents, over 18 years old and prepared to start work immediately

Bernalillo County DA goes after Facebook

ICYMI, on Monday, Bernalillo County District Attorney Raúl Torrez filed a petition to enforce a subpoena against Facebook, announcing the action in a news conference and news release. The move—which has gained national attention—is the latest fallout from a June 2020 Albuquerque protest over a statue of Spanish conquistador Juan de Oñate, which ended with a man being shot and wounded. Torrez subsequently sought to enjoin a group called the New Mexico Civil Guard from “acting as unauthorized police or paramilitary force” after NMCG members “appeared at Albuquerque protests and demonstrations in New Mexico throughout the summer of 2020, wearing camouflage attire and sporting assault rifles and other military-style gear with the professed purpose of ‘protecting’ individuals and property.” Torrez’s recent petition, filed in San Mateo County, California, goes after Facebook for refusing to turn over account information on the group, saying the information no longer existed following Facebook’s own crackdown on extremist groups. “Facebook is asking Congress and the American people to trust it to regulate extremist content on its platform and yet refuses to turn over basic account information about an identified extremist group that used that same platform to recruit, organize and direct its members to engage in unlawful activity,” Torrez said in a statement. “We…find it hard to believe that a trillion dollar tech company cannot retrieve account information about a group that the company removed from the platform because of its extremist activities.”

Listen up

Several recent episodes of New Mexico Restaurants Now!, the New Mexico Restaurant Association podcast, highlight winners from NMHA’s 2021 Hospitality Industry awards. In Santa Fe, those winners include The Compound Restaurant owner/chef Mark Kiffin, who won chef of the year, and manager of the year Tai Ayers from Ohori’s Coffee Roasters. A native Santa Fean, Ayers talks to podcast host and NMHA CEO Carol Wight about learning to appreciate coffee houses as a teenager here (with a shout out to the former Aztec Cafe, natch). “Coffeehouses were the places where young people could meet outside of home and I grew an appreciation for coffee, but also for what some people call the middle space, where people can gather,” Ayers says. “I really loved that middle space from a young age.” Her father was an accountant for Ohori’s, so Ayers’ relationship with the store stretches back to childhood. She left for college and traveled the world, but her love for coffee brought her back to Ohori’s, where she’s worked for more than 20 years, becoming general manager in 2006 and gaining partial ownership in 2017.

Color coordinated

In Smithsonian Magazine, mixed media artist Lisa Solomon discusses how she has incorporated Crayola crayons into her practice, and profiles five other artists doing the same. Among them: Douglas Mehrens, founder of New Mexico’s Museum of Encaustic Art, previously located in Santa Fe, but now situated in its original location on Mehrens’ property in Cerrillos. The museum holds more than 450 artworks in its permanent collection and has 124 in its current location (you can also view the permanent collection on the museum’s website and peruse the most recent edition of Encaustic Arts Magazine). Mehrens, Solomon writes, “has used over 300,000 Crayola crayons in his work throughout the years. In the beginning he would cut each wrapper off and save the wrappers to help him remember how many he was using. He has 156,000 of them. In 1992, when the 96 pack came out, he began saving the sharpeners instead. He has over 1,000 of them. When the 120 pack came out, he began saving the new tip sharpener, and he has over 400 of those!” Mehrens says one of his most challenging works, which took more than a year, required “pouring melted crayons into plastic tubes that transferred the wax into porcelain glass tubes—nine feet tall” in which “each layer of poured crayon represents a single floor of each of the 110 floors of the NYC World Trade Center Twin Towers. Where the planes hit the towers—it is represented in black, gray and white crayons. Leftover dried crayon [bits] from the tubes were removed and placed at the base to represent the remains of destruction.”

Taos Pueblo without tourists

AFAR travel magazine examines the pandemic’s impact on Taos Pueblo, where COVID-19 provided a “rare opportunity” for both Taos and other pueblos: “the first break in over a century from letting tourists into their homes and sacred spaces.” For some, closing the pueblo off to tourists has provided a sense of relief. Cornbringer Michaels, a Taos Pueblo artist and business manager for the Millicent Rogers Museum, says the pueblo now has one manned entrance instead of four: “It’s safe for me to leave my gate open in front of my house,” Michaels tells AFAR. “There are no social media alerts about strange vehicles driving around. I wave at everybody now because even if I don’t recognize someone, I can assume it’s a relative. Everyone here is supposed to be here. It is such a relief to have privacy.” But the lack of tourist dollars also has created hardship. “My friends are struggling,” jewelry maker Lyle Wright says. Wright is in the process of opening a gallery and shop three miles from the pueblo in the Taos Plaza. “It’s awful,” he says about Taos Pueblo artists’ current challenges. “Their kids are coming to me and asking how long until my gallery opens because they’ve never seen their parents this broke.” While the pueblo may reopen next year, some expect changes: “It’s going to have to be different,” Ilona Spruce, head of tourism for Taos Pueblo, says. “We’ve already started making changes. We opened a gas station to bring in some money. We’re talking about adding an educational component to tours, so it’s not just ‘come see the Indians.’”

Cool off

Temperatures in Santa Fe will cool down today, according to the National Weather Service, which forecasts a high near 59 degrees, north wind 5 to 10 mph becoming southwest in the morning. Today will allegedly be sunny (yesterday was supposed to be sunny as well, but it looked pretty cloudy to us).

Thanks for reading! The Word was glad to learn pink is basically a real color (although she is not the person who sent in the question).

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