Voter turnout crosses 380,000, as NM hits record absentee turnout

As of Wednesday morning, 381,995 people have cast ballots for the general election in New Mexico, including a record number of those who have returned absentee ballots. The new numbers provided by the Secretary of State’s office showed that 187,971 voters had returned absentee ballots—the most ever in an election, breaking the record previously set in 2008 of 172,136. The 187,971 were 49.43 percent of the 380,280 voters who requested absentee ballots. Tuesday was the final day for voters to request absentee ballots. All absentee ballots in New Mexico must be returned by 7 p.m. on Election Day, Nov.

Hospital capacity a looming problem amid COVID-19 surge, and restaurants have to get COVID-safe certified

“The state of New Mexico last week experienced its worst week for COVID-19 infections throughout the duration of the pandemic,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said during a press conference on Tuesday with other state officials. She also acknowledged troubling patterns when it came to hospitalizations. Because of this, she announced further restrictions on businesses, including restaurants, beginning on Friday. But she did not put a stop to indoor dining—as long as restaurants complete the state’s COVID-safe certification program. Restaurants that complete the online program will be able to continue serving 25 percent of maximum capacity of indoor patrons, along with outdoor service.

Nearly 600 new cases of COVID-19, seven deaths

State health officials reported 599 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday and seven deaths related to the disease. This is the sixth time in the last week that the state has reported 500 or more cases after not doing so in the previous seven months of the pandemic. 

Bernalillo County reported 154 new cases of the disease, while Doña Ana County reported 135 new cases. Eleven other counties reported double-digit increases in cases: Curry County (45), Santa Fe County (33), San Juan County (30), Otero County (29), Chaves County (26), Eddy County (21), Lea County (18), Sandoval County (18), Luna County (17), McKinley County (16) and Valencia County (15). 

The state Department of Health also reported one new case among individuals held by federal agencies at the Otero County Prison Facility and one new case among New Mexico Corrections Department inmates at the Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Valencia County. DOH offered the following information about the seven deaths: 

A male in his 80s from Curry County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions.A female in her 80s from Eddy County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions.A second female in her 80s from Eddy County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions.A male in his 60s from Roosevelt County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions.A male in his 40s from Santa Fe County who had underlying conditions.A male in his 80s from Santa Fe County who was hospitalized and was a resident of the Kingston Residence in Santa Fe.A female in her 90s from Santa Fe County who was hospitalized and was a resident of the Kingston Residence in Santa Fe. DOH did not disclose which underlying condition the man had, only if one was present.

Turnout passes 322,000, 40 percent of 2016’s total turnout

New Mexico voters continued to head to the polls and return absentee ballots early, as 322,880 voters had already cast their ballots as of Tuesday morning: 154,578 through early in-person voting and 71,939 through returning absentee ballots. The number of returned absentee ballots is now the second-most in state history, only behind the 172,136 absentee ballots returned in 2008, and is poised to break that year’s record total by tomorrow morning. As of Tuesday morning, 44.77 percent of all voters who requested absentee ballots have returned them. Today is the final day for voters to request absentee ballots. 

For their absentee ballots to count, voters must return them by 7 p.m. on Nov. 3.

518 new cases of COVID-19 in NM, one additional death

On Monday, the New Mexico Department of Health reported 518 new cases of COVID-19 and one additional death. This is the fifth time in the last week that New Mexico reported 500 or more cases after not doing so in the previous seven months of the pandemic. Bernalillo County, the most populous county in the state, reported 123 new cases, while Doña Ana County reported 102 cases. This is the 15th straight day that DOH reported 100 or more cases in Bernalillo County in a single day, and the fourth time overall with 100 or more cases in a single day in Doña Ana County. DOH also reported 28 new cases among detainees or inmates of state or federal authorities, including 24 among state inmates at the Lea County Correctional Facility.

Inside the fall of the CDC

At 7:47 a.m. on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, Dr. Jay Butler pounded out a grim email to colleagues at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Butler, then the head of the agency’s coronavirus response, and his team had been trying to craft guidance to help Americans return safely to worship amid worries that two of its greatest comforts — the chanting of prayers and singing of hymns — could launch a deadly virus into the air with each breath.

577 new COVID-19 cases in NM, hospitalizations continue to increase

On Saturday, the state Department of Health reported 577 new cases of COVID-19, breaking the streak of three straight days with record-breaking numbers of cases, but still a number well above any number reported in New Mexico before this week. The department also said there was one additional death related to COVID-19. The number of those hospitalized for COVID-19 increased to 173, five more than reported on Friday, and the most since July 22. This could include those from other states who are hospitalized for COVID-19 in New Mexico, but would not include New Mexicans who are hospitalized in other states. Bernalillo County continued to have the most number of cases, with 191 reported on Saturday, followed by 98 in Doña Ana County, 36 in Eddy County and 35 in Curry County.

Cruel and Usual: Taos County jail accused of abuse and dysfunction

TAOS — It was the evening of Aug. 25, 2019, and William Berry, a 63-year-old former ski lift operator, had been arrested earlier that day for driving without a license. He struggled to breathe in his cell at the Taos County Adult Detention Center and repeatedly asked the guards for his asthma medication. His requests were ignored, until finally, at 9 p.m., seven hours after Berry was booked, Sgt. Leroy Vigil told him to step out of his cell if he wanted his medicine, according to Berry.

Third day in a row of NM shattering COVID-19 case record, with 819 new cases

New Mexico’s streak of ever-growing records of daily COVID-19 cases took another leap on Friday, as the state Department of Health reported 819 new cases, 147 more than the previous record of 672, set on Thursday. It was the third straight day that New Mexico reached its record number of cases and represented growth in counties and detention centers throughout the state. The state also reported six additional deaths related to the disease. The new cases included 146 in Doña Ana County, the most for that county since the beginning of the pandemic, and the first time the county reported more than 100 cases. El Paso County in Texas, which borders Doña Ana County, reported 838 cases on Friday—more cases than the entire state of New Mexico.

Over 183,000 New Mexicans have cast their ballots

Over 183,000 New Mexicans have cast ballots as of Friday morning, according to numbers provided by the Secretary of State’s office. This includes over 100,000 absentee ballots that have been returned to county clerks’ office. In all, 183,271 voters have either returned their absentee ballots or voted early in-person so far throughout the state. The number of absentee ballots returned to county clerks’ offices reached 102,004, and already exceeds the number of absentee ballots cast in the last two presidential elections (76,476 in 2016 and 88,848 in 2012). The record number of absentee ballots in a single election in New Mexico was set in 2008, with 172,136, a number set to be shattered this year.