Politics and violence
As our understanding of last week’s riot at the Capitol continues to develop, it has become clear that the potential for serious violence against congressional members was much higher than originally recognized. While some who stormed the Capitol appeared to behave more as tourists than threats, it is now clear that community political leaders and law enforcement officials also participated in the riots, along with groups of white nationalists and QAnon supporters. Evidence from social media, comments from participants, and messages left during the riot show that many in the crowd had serious intention of harming, kidnapping, or even executing members of congress and the Vice President. Simultaneously, we have learned that calls for assistance from additional protective forces, including the National Guard, went unheeded for hours, despite repeated calls from Capitol police and congressional leaders. Taken together, the last week reveals just how close we came to a deadly political insurrection taking place within the halls of congress.
Police and National Guard presence in Washington D.C. escalated dramatically this week as Senators and Representatives returned to Congress, and images of guardsmen splayed out on the Capitol floor seemed almost humorous in their excess. Yet threats of ongoing violent assaults by Trump supporters on government buildings continues, with state capitols put on alert to anticipate such attacks and local officials urging residents to avoid state capitols this weekend and up to the inauguration this Thursday. In response to last weeks events and credible threats of attacks at government buildings across the country, Governor Lujan-Grisham declared a pre-emptive state of emergency in New Mexico that would allow the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management to lead the response to such an attack and release as many National Guard units as were deemed necessary. Fencing is continuing to be installed around the state capitol.
Virus, vaccines, virtual learning
The challenges of the pandemic continue despite the roll out of the vaccine as cases of COVID-19 hit 2 million worldwide. In New Mexico, Harding County earned a “green” ranking in the Department of Health “Red to Green” framework, with a total of zero cases during the last two-week period. Union County moved to “yellow” while the rest of the state remained in the “red” zone. As of January 13th, San Miguel County was “improving” in its case numbers but still reported 38 per 100,000. The number of cases in the state have averaged over 1000 per day for more than a week. Most New Mexico schools, including both the Las Vegas and West Las Vegas districts, will remain in “remote learning” mode when they re-open next week. A full list of districts and their re-entry status is provided on this updated school re-entry status listing.
Vaccines have begun to be distributed in the state and numbers are expected to increase once the Biden administration takes office. In his address yesterday evening, President Elect Biden outlined a plan that “would direct roughly $400 billion to the public health crisis” created by the pandemic, that including $20 billion “toward a vaccination program in partnership with states, localities, tribes and territories. His package also included increasing the previous $600 stimulus payment checks to $2000 and another $130 billion for helping schools meet safety standards of re-opening safely during a pandemic. Employment benefits and eviction protections will also both be expanded, as will assistance for small businesses and local governments.
Villanueva Library at El Valle Community Center
The Villanueva Library will re-open for curb-side pick up and for services by appointment beginning Tuesday January 19th. Patrons may find and reserve books for pick up by using the library catalog. Instructions for searching for books using the catalog are available on the Villanueva Library curbside pick-up instruction sheet. Other services available by appointment include printing, scanning, faxing, and use of public computer access computers and wifi. To sign up for services or for other questions, please call 575-421-0808 or 505-660-3434.
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