SHIPROCK, N.M. — In the fertile northeast corner of the Navajo Nation, fields that only months ago were traditional open-air corn farms are now stuffed with hundreds of industrial-sized greenhouses, each glowing with artificial lights and brimming with emerald cannabis plants. Security cameras ring the perimeters and hired guards in flak jackets patrol the public roads alongside the farms.
Every weekday throughout the summer, a group of local kids woke at sunrise and arrived at the farm by 7:30, ready for a 10-hour shift of hard labor under the high desert sun. Many were teenagers, 13- and 14-year-olds lured by offers of quick cash. A few were as young as 10. Joining them were scores of foreign workers — an estimated 1,000 people, many of them Chinese immigrants brought to New Mexico from Los Angeles, according to Navajo Nation Police Chief Phillip Francisco.
Searchlight New Mexico reported and originally published this story, and it is republished with permission.
On Monday, state health officials reported 106 new cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths related to the disease. Bernalillo County, with 27, Doña Ana County, with 18, and Santa Fe County, with 15, were the only three counties with double-digit numbers of newly reported cases. The state Department of Health has now found 27,683 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 851 deaths related to the disease. The two deaths related to the disease were both women who had underlying conditions, though DOH, as usual, did not disclose which underlying condition because of privacy concerns. One woman was in her 70s from Bernalillo County, while the other was a woman in her 60s from Sandoval County who was hospitalized.
On Sunday, state health officials announced two more deaths related to COVID-19 and 67 new cases of the disease. The total number of reported cases is 27,579 and there have been 849 deaths related to COVID-19 in total.
In Sunday’s announcement officials said there are currently 64 people hospitalized for the disease and 15,412 have been deemed recovered.
According to state health officials, this is the breakdown of the newly reported cases.
11 new cases in Bernalillo County14 new cases in Chaves County12 new cases in Doña Ana County8 new cases in Eddy County7 new cases in Lea County3 new cases in Lincoln County1 new case in McKinley County2 new cases in Quay County1 new case in Rio Arriba County1 new case in Roosevelt County2 new cases in Sandoval County1 new case in San Juan County1 new case in San Miguel County2 new cases in Santa Fe County1 new case in Socorro County
One of the latest deaths was in Bernalillo County and the other was from Chaves County. A male in his 60s from Bernalillo County was hospitalized and had underlying conditions.A male in his 60s from Chaves County was hospitalized and had underlying conditions. Bernalillo County continues to have the most total cases of COVID-19. Here is a breakdown by county of the total number of cases.
Access issues plaguing the state could be exacerbating women’s cancer screenings difficulties during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the American Cancer Society. Tim Tokarski, senior manager for development in New Mexico and El Paso for the American Cancer Society, told NM Political Report that the need to travel long distances to see a physician is an issue for people who need a breast cancer screening or other types of gynecological cancer screenings. “New Mexico has a tremendous amount of access issues,” Tokarski said. But, distance isn’t the only barrier to health care access, he said. “Geography and income and insurance and socioeconomic status” also pose barriers, he said.
New Mexico health officials announced 164 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, the third straight day with 150 or more newly reported cases. The state also reports six additional COVID-19 deaths. The new cases announced by the New Mexico Department of Health included 18 new cases among New Mexico Corrections Department inmates at the Lea County Correctional Facility, nearly doubling the total number of confirmed cases in the facility. COVID-19 has spread quickly in correctional facilities and prisons in New Mexico and in other states during the pandemic. Among counties, Bernalillo County and Doña Ana County each had 31 new reported cases, while Eddy County continued its growth in cases with 15, while Chaves County had 10 newly reported cases.
Water experts painted a grim picture of New Mexico’s water future during a panel discussion focused on water policy and management. The panel was hosted by Retake Democracy, an advocacy group based in Santa Fe.
Dave Gutzler, a professor at UNM’s Earth and Planetary Sciences department, emphasized that climate change is here, and is already impacting the state’s precipitation patterns.
“Anyone who’s lived here for a while knows that variability is endemic to New Mexico,” Gutzler said. “But the climate is now changing in ways that go beyond natural variability.”
Gutzler said climate change will have three major impacts to water resources in the state.
“One of them is that the temperature is going up. It’s already going up rapidly,” he said, pointing to data that shows average temperatures in the state have already risen 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1970s.
“That is causing rapid decline in snowpack, rapid increase in evaporation rates, [and] a decrease in groundwater recharge,” he said. “Just the temperature change itself will have an effect on a lot of resources.”
Gutzler said the climate will also become more “energetic” and variable.
“That means the rainfall will tend to be delivered in more intense doses, and the dry spells will also be more intense,” he said.
And thirdly, he said, the weather will permanently move north.
“We expect the winter storm track to shift northward and take the precipitation— rain and snow—with it,” he said.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died Friday. She was 87. The vacancy her seat creates will now give Republicans the opportunity to try to place another conservative justice to the bench. President Donald Trump, reacting to two Supreme Court decisions in June that he didn’t like, tweeted that he would have a new list of conservatives to appoint to the bench by September 1. Within just a few hours of the announcement of Ginsburg’s death, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he would not wait to bring to a vote for a Trump appointee this election year, according to multiple media sources.
State health officials reported 154 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, the second straight day the state reported over 150 cases of the disease. Additionally, the state Department of Health reported five additional deaths related to COVID-19. DOH has now found 27,350 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and reported 841 deaths related to the disease. The most newly reported cases came out of Bernalillo County, with 30. Bernalillo County has by far the highest population of any county in the state.
The governor and officials said there continued to be good news on the state’s COVID-19 response, as it continues to meet most gating criteria. Because of this, New Mexico will allow some youth sports practices to go forward as the state continues to slowly lift restrictions throughout the state beginning Friday. The state will also allow camping at state parks, for New Mexico residents, at the beginning of October. In both cases, the prohibition on gatherings of more than ten people stays in place. And in the case of youth sports, there will be no competitive games or contact allowed.
State health officials announced 159 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday and four deaths related to the disease. The state has now recorded 27,199 cases of the illness since the start of the pandemic and 836 related deaths.
Bernalillo County reported the most new cases of COVID-19, with 38. Six other counties also reported double-digit increases in cases: Doña Ana County (21), Chaves County (17), Lea County (15), Luna County (11), Eddy County (10) and Santa Fe County (10).
The state Department of Health released some details about the four deaths:
A male in his 60s from Bernalillo County who was hospitalized and had underlying conditions.A male in his 70s from Lea County who was hospitalized.A male in his 40s from McKinley County who had underlying conditions.A male in his 60s from Santa Fe County who had underlying conditions. DOH did not disclose which underlying condition any person had, because of privacy issues, only if one was present. The number of individuals currently hospitalized for COVID-19 jumped to 69, an increase of 10 since Wednesday.
The college experience has been reduced to the size of a computer monitor on many college campuses this fall. In an effort to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks, more than 1,000 colleges and universities are fully or heavily relying on virtual learning, including schools on the Navajo Nation – where internet access is notoriously scarce.
How can online learning succeed in a place where students aren’t wired? For the answer, Searchlight turned to Colleen Bowman, the provost at Navajo Technical University, a small school that’s taken major steps to keep students connected. Based in Crownpoint, on the plains northeast of Gallup, NTU was founded in 1979 as the Navajo Skill Center and has since expanded to four satellite campuses. This story originally appeared at Searchlight New Mexico and is republished with permission.