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COVID memorial seeks support from lawmakers

Marked by COVID
Marked by COVID

As we approach the three-year anniversary of the start of the pandemic,New Mexico alone has reported just over 9,000 deaths. A local nonprofit group, Marked by COVID, is at the Roundhouse this session to advocate for people who are grieving or need support as survivors.

Last Fall, members of Marked by COVID New Mexico secured public trust land to build a permanent memorial in Albuquerque, making New Mexico the first state to have a publicly funded memorialin a national COVID Memorial network.

Senate Joint Memorial 1 calls upon the legislature to support the project so it can officially break ground later this year.

Eleanor Bravo, co-organizer of Marked, says we’ve all been harmed by COVID and this site will be for all people to come together and grieve, and to find support with the uncertainties of a Long COVID diagnoses, or the mental toll of isolation and trauma.

"We want the Native community to offer their own tribute. We want the healthcare workers to write their own tribute. This is really a huge collective effort" said Bravo.

Janeth Nuñez del Prado, the leader of Marked, said this space is crucial because phrases like “getting back to normal” have been damaging for people who continue to cope with the effects of the pandemic.

"Our grief has been exacerbated, prolonged, and denied by the politics of the pandemic and this rush and honestly a fantasy of getting back to normal" Nuñez del Prado said.

Nuñez del Prado says because of the unique phenomena of virtual goodbyes said during the pandemic, devices could be sources of suffering. But the digital aspects at the site, co-designed with tech company Snapchat, will allow folks to reclaim their devices and heal while creating a living memorial because COVID is far from over.

Marked has some commitments for financing, but since Senate Memorial 1 has no funding attached, they will seek capital outlay money from lawmakers.

Capital outlay is funded through three sources: general obligation bonds, severance tax bonds, and nonrecurring general fund revenue and amounts can vary year to year based on the state of the economy. Typically the state’s capital outlay is used to build, improve, or enhance physical property that’s used by the public, like a living memorial. Capital outlay funding is authorized by the legislature and is usually a one-time award.

The memorial is in the Senate Rules Committee waiting for a hearing.


Marked by COVID Petition

This coverage is made possible by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and KUNM listeners.

Taylor is a reporter with our Poverty and Public Health project. She is a lover of books and a proud dog mom. She's been published in Albuquerque The Magazine several times and enjoys writing about politics and travel.