Marisa Demarco

Reporter

Marisa Demarco is a reporter based in Albuquerque, N.M. She's spent almost two decades in journalism, founding the New Mexico Compass, and editing and writing for the Weekly Alibi, the Albuquerque Tribune and UNM's Daily Lobo. She began a career in radio at KUNM News in late 2013 and has 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.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

We are nearly halfway through the year of 2020, it is June and reality is forever changed. While learning to adjust to life during a global pandemic, the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers has given rise to protests globally. In Episode 71, we talk about what it takes to safely navigate a pandemic and the beginnings of a revolution. It’s a heavy lift. Today we talk with a military veteran, a few activists and educators, and host Khalil Ekulona’s dad to get a deeper perspective. 

Nash Jones / KUNM


Advocates are calling on Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to release Clifton White, a black man in Albuquerque who was arrested on an administrative parole violation Monday. His wife Selinda Guerrero, a Black Lives Matter organizer, says his arrest is retaliation for her and her husbands’ activism for prisoners’ rights and for organizing police watches in their community. White’s arrest came days after four teenagers were detained by Albuquerque police following the Black Lives Matter protest in the International District on Thursday, May 28. Guerrero told KUNM’s Khalil Ekulona APD took the teens away and left the teen’s car in the street, so her husband drove it home for safekeeping.

 

still from video by Shaun Griswold

Just blocks from a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Albuquerque on May 28, two black teenagers and two Hispanic teenagers were pulled from a car by Albuquerque police officers in riot gear. They say they were threatened by police— until some protestors arrived on the scene. The youth were taken into custody but released hours later without being charged. Police say they suspect them of firing shots near the protest, an allegation they deny. APD reports they recovered no weapons at the scene. KUNM's Khalil Ekulona spoke with 18-year-old Noah Tapia about his run-in with militarized officers.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Albuquerque residents have joined people around the world in protest following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. In the media, peaceful demonstrations have been conflated with property damage done by smaller groups of people, playing into narratives that give rise to aggressive responses like what the Trump administration is pushing. In episode 70, we talk about how law enforcement responses to recent protests seem to differ for different groups. We speak with an organizer, a youth detained after a protest, Albuquerque Police Department leadership, and a longtime criminal justice reporter.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

After thousands of peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters dispersed on Sunday night, some people remained downtown in Albuquerque, driving their cars, playing music on their systems and displaying anti-police violence signs. Later, after they were gone too, 100 or 200 people remained, most not in vehicles, breaking windows and looting. Riot police showed up, and the Albuquerque Police Department says someone fired on them in front of the KiMo Theatre. No injuries have been reported. 

Shaun Griswold

Joining national protests against racist police violence, hundreds of people in Albuquerque participated in a Black Lives Matter car rally Thursday evening, May 28. Near the end of the rally, the Albuquerque Police Department deployed their riot teams, with military-grade equipment, and took into custody four teenagers of color after gunshots were fired nearby. They were not charged and were later released. Their detainment sparked a police altercation with demonstrators. The escalated police response to unarmed Black Lives Matter protesters stands in contrast to the lack of visible police presence at an anti-shutdown demonstration that included armed white protesters on Civic Plaza last month.

Arianna Sena / KUNM

Do you have faith in the systems? How has government response to the pandemic eroded or reinforced that for you? It seemed important back in what we collectively refer to as “normal times.” But what have public officials done to instill our faith? In Episode 69, we talk about the long list of pre-pandemic ills that plague us during this plague. We talk with the secretary of state about what it takes for politicians to keep voters invested and journalists about why there is a lack of faith—and whether it can be restored. 

BUSCHAP VIA FLICKR / CREATIVE COMMONS LICENSE

While many of us are focused on the demands of the pandemic, the primary election came up quick in New Mexico, and the general election is right around the corner. What is the consequence of doing nothing at all this election cycle? In episode 68, we take a look at the primary coming up on Tuesday, June 2, with a narrow focus on the state and local elections.

Pixabay via CC

Now that the state is slowly relaxing the shutdown orders, some are considering getting back to business. In episode 67 we talk with small business owners and those who support them about how they have to come up with innovative ways to sell to their customers, get their employees back, keep the lights on and keep everyone safe. We hear from restaurant owners, a statewide business incubator, a journalist and Workforce Solutions Secretary Bill McCamley.

Trevier Gonzalez

The past few weeks have seen a rise to anti-shutdown protests in many parts of the country. Some have observed the number of weapons at some of these protests, others have observed that most of the participants are white. That made us think, how does race factor into the conversations around re-opening? In episode 66, we talk with some of the louder voices in the state speaking out against New Mexico’s shutdown, and national anti-racism activist Tim Wise. And we hear from a guy who’s worked for years to grapple with his own privilege. These conversations might give us a window into what the future holds.

Vanessa Bowen

It's springtime, and love is in the air — but the virus is making things complicated. In episode 65, we explore the changes COVID has wrought for many kinds of love: for family, for friends, for oneself, for longtime spouses, and yes, for lovers. A relationship expert schools us on healthy communication, risk assessment, and creative ways to date safely. And New Mexicans, whether they're partnered, dating, or single, share how they're navigating new challenges around connection and intimacy in their stay-at-home lives.

Nash Jones / KUNM

Now that we are at the beginning of a small reopening, some people are taking it into their own hands to provide a little something special to their communities. In episode 64, we learn about a new online radio station designed to give live performers a platform to connect to their audience in a fresh way. We hear about how popular the Sunday cruise on the mother road has been since it's naturally socially distant but still all about community. Mobile drive-in movies are back. Plus, we dive into the symbolism of the many moths newly emerging in our city, sometimes feeling like a manifestation of our collective anxiety.

Hannah Colton/KUNM

Let's Talk New Mexico 5/21, 8a: Keeping our communities and public spaces clean is life-saving work as we fight viral spread. On this week's call-in show, we'll hear from those essential workers about the conditions they face during the pandemic. Do you work in sanitation or on a hospital cleaning crew? Do you clean homes or other businesses for a living? Are you a home health care worker? We want to hear from you about how things are going. Or do you have a special story or gratitude shoutout for someone who cleans the spaces you inhabit? Email LetsTalk@kunm.org or call in live during the show.

Wikimedia Commons

 

The streets are quieter. Restaurants and bars are empty. But the trash is still picked up each week, homes are still getting cleaned and hospitals are still sanitized for safety. On episode 63, we honor the bravery of domestic cleaners, hospital janitors, sanitation workers and home health workers. They're front-line workers who need more than just thanks—they need fair pay and proper protection during the pandemic.

Wikimedia Commons via CC

Hospital custodians and houskeeping staff say that even though they clean the COVID wards and are in the room with patients, they aren't given adequate personal protective equipment. Three people we spoke with said because it is commonly known among other hospital staff that the sanitation workers are more exposed to the virus, they are treated unfairly and subject to discrimination. 

U.S. Air Force photo by Rhett Isbell

 


State of New Mexico officials have said that no one should have to pay to get tested for COVID-19, but a nurse at UNM Hospitals received a $1500 bill for a nasal swab that she was required by her employer to get after traveling out of state. KUNM's Khalil Ekulona spoke with Marie Sparks about her experience, and the stress of navigating UNMH's bureaucracy to resolve the issue.

Megan Kamerick / KUNM

New Mexico is among the ten states with the highest increase in unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning many people have lost health insurance coverage as well. The state says no one should have to pay for testing and treatment related to the coronavirus, but some people are still being charged for that care. KUNM’s Khalil Ekulona spoke with New Mexico Superintendent of Insurance Russell Toal about how the state is trying to help.

rawpixel via Wikimedia Commons CC

Access to medical care could not be more important than it is at this moment.  And plenty of people either don’t have health insurance or lost it because they lost their jobs during the pandemic. On Episode 62, we look into what options exist for the underemployed and recently unemployed, what a hospital worker experienced when she got a $1,500 COVID-19 test bill she was not expecting, and we talk to the superintendent of insurance to discover what the state is doing to help.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

As of May 14, 5,503 New Mexicans have tested positive for COVID-19, with health care workers among the most likely to be exposed to the virus. Catherine Delaney, a physicians assistant and recovered COVID patient, talked to Your NM Gov host Khalil Ekulona about what it was like to be infected with COVID-19, the rocky road to recovery, and the range of symptoms she, family members and her patients have experienced.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

Antibody tests are meant to detect whether a person has had a prior immune response to a COVID-19 infection. But the accuracy of the antibody tests on the market right now varies widely. Dr. David Grenache, Chief Scientific Officer for TriCore Reference Laboratories, spoke with Your NM Gov host Khalil Ekulona about how antibody tests are important from a population health perspective – to gather data about how many have been exposed – but they cannot tell us yet whether or not an individual has developed an immunity to the virus.

U.S. Air Force photo by Pedro Tenorio via CC

 

As Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham eases restrictions in New Mexico starting Saturday, we talk about the factors that signal when and how to reopen the country: testing, contact tracing, modeling, antibody tests and treatment. In episode 61, we hear about test expansion and antibody test development, a new treatment involving plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients, and what it's like to be sick with the virus. 

wallpaperscraft via CC

Episode 60 we maximize the connective power of radio in service of appreciation and love for the people we might not be able to talk to—whether they're in a hospital, somewhere that phone service or net isn't so good, a senior living facility, a jail or prison, or just far away. And if you have any worries we've strayed too far from our mission, you know, with "government" in the name of this show, it's all good. We do have shoutouts from some government officials, too. 

my_southborough via Creative Commons / Creative Commons

Many New Mexicans are being told to stay at home and distance themselves from others to minimize the cases of COVID-19 in the state. But that’s not an option for those stuck in jails and prisons, who usually have close contact with each other in tight spaces. Expanding on an earlier episode, this conversation is all about the dangers that these inmates face – as well as the staff who oversee them and the community at large.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

The stay-at-home order is dragging on and things are getting kind of grim. People have been cooped up together for weeks now, money issues are coming to a head, and uncertainty and instability are persistent facts of our everyday lives. After yesterday's discussion of domestic violence, this episode is all about how to get through this difficult time—spiritually, psychologically and emotionally.

Elvert Barnes via Wikimedia Commons CC

In Episode 57, we talk about the dangers that domestic violence survivors face during shelter-in-place orders when home isn’t a safe place. We hear what advocates, agencies, and the government are doing to help survivors of abuse stay safe, and how they’re keeping services running during social distancing.  

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

In episode 56, we explore New Mexico’s upcoming limited reopening of restaurants and retail stores. What needs to be considered in terms of how to stay safe during a reopening and what are the best practices? 

Courtesy of Orlando Watts

In episode 55, we return to the conversation around recovery from substance use during the pandemic. It's a special episode devoted to a conversation between Executive Producer Marisa Demarco and her cousin, Orlando Watts, who went to a remote rehab before the pandemic, and then returned home after it was in full swing. A lot of the conversation around reckoning with a loss of control, being present, sitting with discomfort and reaching out to connect could be useful for anyone during this time—not only people in recovery or seeking treatment.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Amid the coronavirus outbreak, Northern New Mexico’s Rio Arriba County faces new challenges to meet the needs of its residents in recovery. After consistently seeing one of the highest overdose death rates in the country, the county last year received federal grant funding to ramp up programs that prioritize treatment over incarceration. Your New Mexico Government spoke with Rio Arriba County Health and Human Services Director Lauren Reichelt about how the county is working to address the interconnected issues of addiction, homelessness, incarceration and unemployment during the pandemic. 

Scott and White Healthcare / CREATIVE COMMONS

As COVID-19 cases in New Mexico continue to rise, local intensive care units have had to quickly adjust to treating patients who come down with severe symptoms of the virus. Your New Mexico Government recently spoke with John Morgan, an ICU nurse at Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque, about what it’s like to be on the frontlines treating critical COVID-19 patients and what he wants people calling for the stay-at-home order to be lifted right now to know.

Courtesy of Alison Keeswood and Mariaelena Lopez

Your New Mexico Government honors the memory of four people whose lives were ended by COVID 19. These are not conversations about the virus, nor about the state of New Mexico's response in episode 54. Today we talk about the people, who they were and how they lived. Beyond the data, numbers or projections, it's about the humans who lived and the legacies they have left with their families and communities.

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