89.9 FM Live From The University Of New Mexico
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
The KUNM news team's coverage of the 2020 legislative session and its impacts

YNMG & COVID: The Systems Aren't Colorblind, But Coronavirus Is

Reese Brown via CC

In episode 44, we talk about CDC data and state data showing that the virus is harming, disproportionately, brown and black people around the U.S.—and here at home. We hear from Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez about the bureaucratic hurdles to accessing billions of dollars allotted to tribes in the relief package, and why that money hasn't reached the ground yet, despite the dire public health emergency unfolding for tribes.

We also talked to Dr. Suzet McKinney, the executive director of the Illinois Medical District, about COVID-19's impacts on black communities around the U.S., and how longstanding inequities and social determinants of health created what we're seeing today in the data.

Chief Public Defender Bennett Baur framed for us the office's call to release more nonviolent offenders from New Mexico's prisons in the context of systemic racism.

Dr. Felisha Rohan-Minjares from the UNM School of Medicine explained how health care workers can check in with themselves and their biases to deliver the best care possible while treating patients in the often impossible conditions of this pandemic.

And Zhibin Bing Hong from the New Mexico Asian Family Center told us about the racism the Asian-American community in New Mexico is facing, plus community efforts to raise funds and get PPE to health care workers in this region.

And a news update: Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez told Your NM Government this afternoon that the Navajo Nation has seen 38 deaths and 921 cases. He commended the first responders there—the front-line warriors—and said if people weren’t sticking with social distancing, those numbers would be much worse. He said of nearly 5,000 COVID tests they’ve done there, a little more than 3,200 came back negative. His office also issued a news release today opposing federal money for tribes going to corporations.

There were eight deaths from the virus in New Mexico today—and that’s the most that’s happened on one day in the state. The death toll for New Mexico stands at 44. And almost 1,600 people are confirmed to have the virus.

Educators from around New Mexico are submitting a formal request asking that the state’s Educational Retirement Board divest from private prison corporations CoreCivic and the GEO Group, according to a news release, saying they are running "death traps" for asylum-seekers in ICE detention during the pandemic.

We're keeping a complete list of the resources and volunteer opportunities that we find for each episode at bit.ly/YNMGhub. And here's what we got from today.


  • For the New Mexico Asian Family Center, head to their website: nmafc.org or find them on Facebook
  • For more info on mistreatment in medical care situations, the Department of Health has the info.
  • To see how you can offer help to the Navajo Nation go to: navajo-nsn.gov.

How are things going for you? We want to know. Share your quarantine stories by calling: (505) 218-7084 and leaving us a message. We could roll them into a future episode.


Your New Mexico Government is a collaboration between KUNM, New Mexico PBS, and the Santa Fe Reporter. Funding for our coverage is provided, in part, by the Thornburg Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the New Mexico Local News Fund.

Marisa Demarco began a career in radio at KUNM News in late 2013 and covered public health for much of her time at the station. During the pandemic, she is also the executive producer for Your NM Government and No More Normal, shows focused on the varied impacts of COVID-19 and community response, as well as racial and social justice. She joined Source New Mexico as editor-in-chief in 2021.
Related Content