Gov: NM Agencies Will Start Collecting Data on Gender, Sexual Identity

COVID-19 by the numbers

New Mexico health officials yesterday reported 1,776 new COVID-19 cases for the three-day period of Aug. 14-16, bringing the statewide total so far to 220,340. The health department has designated 198,816 of those cases as recovered.

Bernalillo County had 541 new cases, followed by Eddy County with 163 and Chaves County with 137. Santa Fe County had 65 new cases.

The state also announced five additional deaths, four recent and one—from Santa Fe County—from more than 30 days ago. There have now been 154 deaths in Santa Fe County and 4,451 statewide. As of yesterday, 304 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 (eight more than Friday).

Currently, 74.9% of New Mexicans 18 years and older have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 65.9% are fully vaccinated. Among residents aged 12-18, 55% are partially vaccinated and 42.1% are fully inoculated. In Santa Fe County, among adults 18 years and older, 86.8% have had at least one dose and 76.6% are fully vaccinated.

The health department yesterday released guidelines for some groups of immunocompromised New Mexicans now eligible for a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, following approval by federal regulators. According to DOH, the state’s vaccine registry has 30,287 people who marked “immunocompromised” on their vaccine registry profiles and who have received their first and second dose of an mRNA vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer; the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine was not approved for a booster shot).

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

Gov announces LGBTQ+ demographic initiative

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham yesterday signed an executive order that directs executive state departments to start collecting voluntary self-identifying information that pertains to sexual orientation and gender identity. According to a news release, LGBTQ+ advocates have long sought the move, as it is intended to provide the state with data to improve services to underserved populations. “If we want to solve a problem, we first need information about what’s causing it,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement. “If we are to address inequities that LGBTQ+ New Mexicans experience in their interactions with state government, we must first have the information about where those breakdowns are occurring. This voluntary mechanism for demographic analysis is a tool the State of New Mexico can and will use to improve its service to traditionally underserved New Mexicans. I’m proud to have the chance to initiate that process.” Equality New Mexico Executive Director Marshall Martinez says the order makes the state “a national leader on the issue of sexual orientation and gender identity data collection,” and called it “a first crucial step toward addressing some of the life or death issues for queer and trans people.” As written, the order protects individual identification and only allows voluntary information to be used for demographic analysis; coordination of care; quality improvement of government services; conducting research; and guiding policy and funding decisions. State Sen. Carrie Hamblen, D-Las Cruces, sponsored a comparable bill in the last 60-day session, which passed the Senate but did not make it out of the House. “Including the demographic information for the LGBTQ+ community on all state forms demonstrates an acknowledgement of our community,” Hamblen said in a statement.

More productions start filming in NM

First, the log lines: Robots is the story of Charles, a womanizer, and Elaine, a gold digger. The duo learn humanity when forced to team up and pursue robot doubles of themselves.” Production for this movie will take place in Albuquerque this month and will employ approximately 60 New Mexico crew members, 25 New Mexico principal cast members and 100 New Mexico background and extras. Principal cast includes Shailene Woodley (Big Little Lies) and Jack Whitehall (Jungle Cruise). The film’s producers at Robots New Mexico LLC say they chose the state because the story is based on real events that transpired at Los Alamos National Laboratory (just kidding: No one said that). What they did say was they chose New Mexico “for its terrain and easy accessibility of working with the New Mexico Film Office” and plan to also use locations in Belen, Madrid and Pecos.

In the psychological thriller Jane, a “seemingly perfect high school senior” named Olivia, “struggles with grief from the recent loss of a friend. When she gets deferred from her dream college, she begins to spiral and experiences a series of increasingly frightening panic attacks. To regain some sense of control, she embarks on a social media-fueled rampage against those that stand in the way of her success but, as things escalate, she is forced to confront—and ultimately embrace—her darkest impulses to get ahead.” The film stars Riverdale actress Madelaine Petsch (who is also producing) in the lead role as Olivia, and will employ approximately 40 New Mexico crew members, 10 New Mexico principal cast members and 125 New Mexico background and extras. “New Mexico was on our radar from the beginning because of its growing infrastructure for film and television production,” Adam Wescott, head of Content Studio at Creator+, said in a statement.

Rethinking Cerrillos Road

Just a few days remain for the public to contribute comments to the state transportation department on everyone’s favorite thoroughfare: Cerrillos Road (aka New Mexico Highway 14). NMDOT says it is conducting an alignmnet study on Cerrillos Road between St. Michael’s and St. Francis drives (minus the intersections of those roads) in order to “analyze the existing conditions, verify the need for improvements and identify and evaluate feasible alternatives that provide a reasonable solution.” Identified problems include: pavement deterioration; sidewalks in either poor or non-existent condition; sporadic bicycle facilities; traffic and safety concerns; drainage problems; and basically every problem a road can have. The state held a public meeting last month and continues to accept comments on some of the preliminary alternatives identified so far. You can watch a video of that meeting, along with a presentation and some preliminary ideas, here. A second public meeting will take place in October, with the state working toward finalizing the study and developing design plans between Winter 2021 and Spring 2022. A survey on the project is available here.

Listen up

New Mexico resident, designer and entrepreneur Amy D. Violette’s podcast, PORCH HANGS, is what it sounds like (fun). Each week, Violette interviews/talks with her friends on the front porch of her 400-square-foot Santa Fe cabin. Recent subjects include: Opuntia co-founder Todd Spitzer; Meekah Sage, founder of Wild Kin; and Ariel Plotek, curator of fine art at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. New episodes drop on Spotify.

Star Trek actress in NM while legal issues progress

Groundbreaking Star Trek actress Nichelle Nichols, who portrayed Lt. Uhura on the original series, now lives with her son in an undisclosed location in New Mexico, with her fate and finances at the center of an ongoing legal battle. As reported by the Los Angeles Times, Nichols’ son, Kyle Johnson, filed a petition in 2018 for conservatorship, saying his mother’s dementia made her vulnerable to exploitation. Those concerns, shared by Nichols’ friend Angelique Fawcette, focus on Nichols’ manager Gilbert Bell, with whom she lived in her home in Los Angeles. Last year, Johnson moved his mother, now 88, out of that home to an undisclosed rental in New Mexico, where he and his wife live, and would not permit the Times to speak with her. He says being here protects his mother from exploitation, while other friends say it is keeping her isolated from those who support her; Fawcette is pursuing legal avenues to visit her in New Mexico. “We have moved here, and we’re going to remain here,” Johnson tells the Times, saying Nichols’ New Mexico home is “a nice place. Smaller, a little more modest than being in Los Angeles, but meeting our needs.”

Native Americans build community through creativity

Yes magazine looks at a variety of Native American tribes and governments that fostered innovative programs for youth during the pandemic, including the Pueblo of Zuni and the Navajo Nation in New Mexico. In the case of Zuni, programs included an interactive art project with Zuni artist Mallery Quetawki, who created a community mural with local middle schoolers through an online course. “They couldn’t sit there and watch me paint. We had to figure out how to talk and create together,” says Quetawki, who is also an artist-in-residence with the University of New Mexico College of Pharmacy. To that end, the Zuni Youth Enrichment Project brought wooden squares, paints and paintbrushes to the students, while Quetawki spoke with them online (the pueblo also provided the students with laptops). When the students’ paintings on 6-by-6-inch wooden squares were finished, Quetawki mounted them on her mural. Other programs included an after-school running program and a virtual play. “Culture has become a staple, soul food, for our kids,” Quetawki says. “They are our future. They understand that, and it’s heartwarming.” In addition, five Navajo-reservation sixth graders—including ones from New Mexico—took an online course offered by Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics. “I see a real relationship between nation-building and math education,” Henry Fowler (Diné), a mathematics professor at Navajo Technical University in Crownpoint, tells Yes. “If we are going to build our infrastructure and economy, we have to increase STEM career interests in our students.”

Make hay while the sun shines

Today may bring more isolated showers and thunderstorms after noon, but just a 20% chance of precipitation. Otherwise, the National Weather Service forecasts a sunny day with a high near 84 degrees and northeast wind 5 to 10 mph becoming south in the afternoon.

Thanks for reading! The Word watched all 12 of the videos the Smithsonian National Zoo compiled of baby giant panda Xiao Qi Ji to celebrate his upcoming first birthday.