The Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART) system has resumed service, sporting a bright red coat of paint along the UNM section of its route.

“We wanted to make sure that pedestrians especially knew there was a difference, that the buses would be going east and/or west,” Albuquerque transit director Danny Holcomb said regarding the pavement’s color change. “We wanted to make sure that if they saw that red paint, they would stop and pause and say ‘wait a minute, maybe I shouldn’t cross here.’”

After three-plus years of delays, ART operations began last November. Since opening,  ART has accumulated an extensive array of accidents, including one fatality. The transit system has also been involved in at least 30 collisions with other vehicles, according to the Albuquerque Journal, and has hit two pedestrians.

Due to fears about the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, first-year freshmen will not be required to live on campus this fall, and for students who choose to, roommates will be prohibited.

Wayne Sullivan, the director of Residence Life and Student Housing, said the choice was made to prioritize students' health.

"We truly believe in the positive impact of the campus living experience, and it's disappointing that fewer students will be able to have that experience this year, but we must work to provide a safer environment for all our students," Sullivan said.

 The University of New Mexico is planning a combination of both remote and in-person classes for fall 2020.

“We expect fall will be a hybrid semester – some classes in-person, some a mix of remote and in-person, and some fully remote, and lots of masks,” Provost James Holloway said.

On May 22, UNM released a tentative plan for how the University will resume operations. Coined “Bringing Back the Pack,” the plan details rules and restrictions for faculty members returning to work and sheds light on what campus life will look like in the fall 2020 semester.

University of New Mexico graduate students Mostafa Peysokhan and Maryam Bahmani created a simple ventilator design in mid-April with hopes of helping hospitals low on ventilators.

The homemade ventilator “CorVent” was designed to be cheap and easy to create, with little tools necessary.

“We decided to design a very simple and inexpensive ventilator that anyone in any part of the world can easily make,” Bahmani said.

COVID cost UNM nearly $50 million in lost revenue

The novel coronavirus hit the University of New Mexico’s budget hard.

Teresa Costantinidis, UNM vice president for finance and administration, told a Board of Regents Committee that COVID-19 has cost UNM $49.8 million in lost revenue. 

Administrators didn’t say what actions they might take to stem off repercussions of the revenue lost beyond lobbying the federal government for more relief. However, Provost James Holloway told the Daily Lobo that UNM is under a hiring freeze with an undetermined end date. 

“We do expect (for fiscal year 2020) additional allocations of approximately $10 million in total,” Costantinidis said. 

“Hamilton” adjusts to the COVID-19 pandemic

The touring cast of the Broadway hit “Hamilton” scheduled a visit to Popejoy from Jan. 19 to Feb. 7, 2021, however, with the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic it is unclear if people will be allowed to gather in large crowds come early next year.

“While it is far too soon to tell whether COVID-19 will affect the performances of Hamilton scheduled to begin in Popejoy Hall on January 19, we know we have a great partner in the production of Hamilton that will do all it can to reschedule those performances as quickly as possible, should our three-week run of the show be closed down due to the pandemic,” Popejoy Marketing Manager Terry Davis said, 

Broadway shows in New York City have been shuttered since March 12 and are set to remain closed through at least June 7, and it is likely that the shutdown will continue past that date. Touring shows have also been canceled across the country including Popejoy’s planned performances of “Escape to Margaritaville” and “The Play that Goes Wrong”.

Film students adapt to COVID restrictions

Seniors of the Film and Digital Media Arts Department (FDMA) have struggled to stay motivated while trying to find alternative ways to finish their capstone projects. With the ongoing pandemic of COVID-19 and the rules that prohibit face-to-face interaction, students are finding it harder to cope in a world of uncertainty.

The University of New Mexico students enrolled in the FDMA program study under a four year cohort program that teaches them skills of filmmaking and prepares them to work within the film industry after graduation. The culmination of their hard work is presented in their senior capstones where they work in crews to create a film, video game or animation from beginning to end. 

COVID-19 disproportionately impacts marginalized populations

The coronavirus pandemic is not the great equalizer some in the limelight have touted it to be. 

Melanie Moses, UNM professor of computer science, has been studying the racial disparities of the coronavirus spreading within our state. Moses said there needs to be policies implemented to protect vulnerable groups as individuals plan to open economies, distribute personal protective equipment and develop vaccination plans.

“There are shocking disparities among African, Latinx and Native-American populations with mortality rates at rates at least two or three times higher than white populations,” Moses said.

At least 31% of New Mexicans who’ve contracted COVID-19 are Native American despite only making up about 11% of the population, according to an article New Mexico In Depth published based on publicly available data.

Local acequias lack proper maintenance during stay-at-home order

None of the Pajarito Meadows residents expected to go outside and find half the houses flooding one afternoon in early April. Some houses were drenched two to three feet deep in water from the nearby acequia. However, the reason why the acequias overflowed is a different story. 

Many acequias in New Mexico are open and running despite having to cancel their community spring cleaning day. As the stay-at-home order continues, cleaning the acequias has been put on hold for many New Mexico communities. 

Since acequias are not Albuquerque’s main source of farm water, keeping them clean has become a hassle in some areas.

UNM announces virtual commencement ceremony

In an email sent to those graduating in spring 2020 on April 27, the University of New Mexico President Garnett Stokes officially announced a virtual celebration to honor graduates. 

The celebration will take place on Saturday, May 30 at 9 a.m, with more details expected to come later this week from the Office of the University Secretary. The email added that a virtual commencement does not replace an in-person one, so spring 2020 graduates will be invited to walk at a later commencement ceremony. 

“To say that a virtual celebration is an imperfect solution would be an enormous understatement—and believe me, I’m as upset as you are that we won’t be celebrating your new degree in person, in a crowded Dreamstyle Arena (Pit) filled with family and friends,” Stokes said in the email. “Commencement is a life experience, a genuine rite of passage—and as such, it truly cannot be experienced virtually.”

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