YNMG & COVID: Reopening At A Spring Fever Pitch

May 4, 2020

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? 

We hear from Nora Meyers Sackett, spokesperson for the State of New Mexico, about what the state medical advisory team is looking at in terms of the spread of COVID-19, and the state’s testing and healthcare capacity.

Ken Carson, owner of Nexus Brewery, talks about strategies to keep his restaurant running at partial capacity and how to balance business with keeping customers and employees safe.

Anna Willoughby, a Ph.D. student at the Center for Ecology of Infectious Diseases at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, researches the relationship between the severity of state shutdowns and the spread of coronavirus. She said since each state has different strategies to control the spread, it is difficult to collect comparable data. She stressed that continuing testing and ensuring sufficient hospital capacity is crucial even in counties with few reported COVID cases.

Ryan Mast, Director of Environmental Health for Albuquerque says the city’s success in “flattening the curve” is thanks to community cooperation including staying at home and wearing masks when out, and that even during a partial reopening these strategies remain essential.

Kathy Kunkel, secretary of the New Mexico Department of Health, updates us on the challenges of meeting the goal of 5,000 tests per day, and the concern of having more people in close proximity during a state reopening.

And John Morgan, an intensive care unit nurse at Presbyterian hospital who works with coronavirus patients, reminds us of what is at stake as he works with severely ill patients whose health can deteriorate rapidly. He said patients are shocked that they could become so ill when they were healthy just days before, and that they are seeing not just single patients but multiple family members falling ill. He reminds us that just because you don’t feel ill, it doesn’t mean you can’t be a carrier and put others at risk.

And a news update: The statewide death total today is 156, but there are significant  disparities in where cases are reported, with counties in the Northwest and indigenous communities around the state being hit harder than other areas.

Native Americans make up more than half of the state’s confirmed cases—55 percent—despite only being 11 percent of the state’s population, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

Antibody tests are emerging, KOAT reports, but state health officials say people should be cautious because they are not approved by the FDA and have not yet proven reliable.

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.

Resources:

  • Head to CABQ.gov for the latest info on the status of city services and resources.
  • For info on the state's response and next moves, head to CV.nmhealth.org.
  • Do you have a COVID-related health insurance question? The state's Insurance Office launched a hotline, open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. If you have a grievance about premium payments, your coverage ending, benefits being denied or surprise bills, call 1-833-415-0566. It's also good for info about how to get health insurance coverage if you don't have any.
  • Check out Anna Willoughby and her team's Coronavirus tracker

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.

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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.