Santa Fe’s COVID-19 case rate is the highest in the state
According to the Department of Health’s weekly epidemiological report on geographic trends, for the most recent seven-day period from May 16 to May 22, Santa Fe County had the highest case rate per 100,000 residents in the state: 45.9. Rio Arriba and Los Alamos counties followed close behind with case rates per 100,000 population of 39.9 and 39.4, respectively. The report flags cases per 100,000 between 32,636 and 45,921 as high with a brick-colored designation. Sandoval, De Baca and Grant counties are also in the upper range. During the same period, the state recorded 3,549 new cases, a 43% increase from the seven-day total a week earlier. Santa Fe County appears to have had about 429 cases over the past week (DOH is no longer reporting cases at the county level, but is reporting cumulative each week), compared to 279 the week before. In response to SFR’s recent questions about rising case counts — specifically, on May 16, the state reported a 45% higher three-day weekend total than the week before — a DOH spokeswoman sent a statement noting that New Mexico “like the rest of the country is experiencing an increase in COVID-19 cases,” but “hospitalizations and deaths … remain stable at this time.” According to the state’s weekly report on hospitalizations, Taos County had the highest rate of hospitalizations per 100,000 residents due to COVID -19 between May 16-22: 9.5, followed by Santa Fe and San Miguel counties at 4.6. As SFR reported on April 29, the health department has stopped reporting breakthrough cases in its weekly immunization report pending “updated methods to account for confounding variables (or unmeasured factors) affecting this analysis, such as age, number of Comorbidities and immunosuppressive factors.” 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 combined to determine the state of the virus at the county level — all counties remain of New Mexico consist of green or low, except for Santa Fe, Rio Arriba and Grant counties, which are yellow for medium (this report will be updated tomorrow).
Cooler, wetter weather helps the fire when warm, dry weather returns
Cooler weather, some precipitation and higher humidity have helped firefighters at the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire in recent days, fire officials reported last night. However, due to cloud cover, they were unable to deploy a nighttime infrared flight over the fire to provide updated areas Monday night and anticipated not being able to do so again last night, leaving the reported area at 311,148 acres and 42 % containment remained. Public information officer Celeste Prescott said updated acreage would be available as cloud cover clears, but brand managers didn’t expect significant growth. That will likely change in the coming days as the weather warms up, dries out and humidity levels drop. According to fire behavior analyst Stewart Turner, starting today, the fire will likely “create more airborne smoke as things dry up and become available to burn,” with critical fire weather returning from Thursday to Friday, “where we’re likely to see more growth.” Almost 3,000 employees are currently working on the fire. At the same time, as SFR reports, the Black Fire in the Gila has grown and requires some of these extinguishing agents. In just 11 days, the Black Fire consumed 154,911 acres in the Gila and is the fourth largest fire in the state’s history. With 11% containment, the Black Fire is almost guaranteed to surpass the Las Conchas Fire of 2011, the third largest that burned over 156,000 acres.
Montoya’s attorneys are awaiting sentencing and planning an appeal
Lawyers for Estevan Montoya, who was recently found guilty of murdering basketball star Fedonta “JB” White last summer, plan to appeal once their client is convicted. Attorney Dan Marlowe awaits a hefty sentence from First Judicial District Judge T. Glenn Ellington: “I think the judge will push him if he can,” Marlowe told SFR. “This judge is totally, totally, politically motivated. Or so it seems.” Because Montoya was found guilty as a serious juvenile offender — he was 16 at the time of the murder — Ellington has discretionary sentencing — from zero years to the maximum sentence of life imprisonment. The district attorney’s office is expected to seek the maximum sentence, but assistant prosecutor Jennifer Padgett Macias says the state is still reviewing the case. The conviction comes at a time when advocates of criminal justice reform are calling for relaxed sentences for those convicted of crimes committed as juveniles. Currently, approximately 75 people in New Mexico are serving sentences in excess of 15 years for crimes committed when they were under the age of 18. Denali Wilson, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, says these types of penalties have a disproportionate impact on communities of color. Statewide, 88% of those serving long adult sentences for crimes committed as children are black youth.
COVID-19 in numbers
Reported on May 24th:
New cases: 542; 531,309 total cases
deaths: 16; At last count, Santa Fe County had a total of 292 deaths; nationwide there were a total of 7,700 deaths. hospitalizations: 103; ventilation patients: nine
Resources: Vaccine Registration; booster registration Free at home rapid antigen tests; self-reporting of a positive COVID-19 test result to the health department; Covid-19 treatment Info: Oral treatments Paxlovid (from 12 years) and Molnupiravir (from 18 years); and monoclonal antibody treatments. Toolkit for immunocompromised individuals. Individuals seeking treatment who do not have a medical provider may call NMDOH’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-855-600-3453.
You can read all of SFR’s COVID-19 coverage here.
In the latest episode of pet chat, host Murad Kirdar, Public Relations Officer for the Santa Fe Animal Shelter, and Bobbi Heller, CEO of Felines and Friends, join Karen Cain, founder of the Street Homeless Animal Project (SHAP), to discuss the challenges homeless people with pets face Santa Fe, including a lack of emergency and long-term shelters that allow pets. To get involved in the show, email the hosts at [email protected]
Surrounded by fire
Hannah Nordhaus writes a story about her ancestral home in Las Vegas, New Mexico National Geographic with the title: “Your house has been standing for 130 years. A new era of wildfires could change that.” Nordhaus’ grandfather bought the land in the 1890s with the intention of logging it: “But then he traveled up the steep river gorge and saw the ancient ponderosa pines and the lush meadows that watched up a granite-capped mountain called Hermits Peak. He decided to build a house there instead,” she writes. For Nordhaus, who lives in Boulder, Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon is the fifth wildfire she has encountered in the same number of months, the first being the Marshall Fire, which destroyed more than 1,000 homes but spared hers due to wind direction. Writing about the inevitability of fires in the drought-stricken Southwest, Nordhaus on seeing the photos of the aftermath of the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon fire on her family’s land, where the homes were once again spared: “Some of the huge ones Ponderosas – the ones my great-grandfather rescued from the mill 130 years ago were untouched while others had burned to the crown. Still others were blackened only at the base. Maybe they survive. Maybe we’ll be among them this summer or next. And maybe they will be fuel for the next fire that will inevitably roar down the gorge – soon, maybe, or maybe in another decade or another generation.”
Two expensive days
Utah’s Deseret News publishes the essay “Roughing it Deluxe” by journalist and best-selling author Stephen Fried About Vermejo Park Ranch, Ted Turner’s luxurious New Mexico estate that at more than 550,000 acres is “the largest single piece of privately owned land in the United States.” It has also, writes Fried, become one of the most expensive places to stay overnight. “We don’t just go because I’m curious to see the place,” writes Fried, “I’m also very intrigued by the phenomenon of ‘roughing it deluxe’ and its role in the development of the American West – starting with the generations after the Civil War, when the West became the ‘New America’ that people from both North and South could still romanticize as they once viewed the original colonies.” Fried’s essay examines the history of luxury travel in the West and some of its earliest Participants as he documents his own visit to Vermejo Park Ranch – which includes rifle shooting and fishing – and explains the history of the ranch. The trip ends, he says, with a tip: “They recommend that you tip 10[%] up to 20% on top of your bill – which is my “recommendation” that all my books should become instant bestsellers. You can tip cash, you can tip on your card, you can tip and have it shared in the employee pool, or you can tip individuals. I almost call my accountant for advice on how to proceed.” The bill, by the way: $4,805.19 for two days (but it’s free to read the essay, which is really fun).
Santa Fe should be sunny today with a high temperature of nearly 72 degrees and a 10 to 15 mph north wind blowing west in the afternoon, according to the National Weather Service, which is forecasting a return to the 80s as of tomorrow.
Thank you for reading! Margaret Atwood did not mention this new burn proof version of The story of the maid during her talk at the Santa Fe Literary Festival last weekend, but if anyone bids and wins, The Word would love to see it.