COVID

Mrs. Gemstone via Wikimedia / Creative Commons


Let's Talk New Mexico 9/8, 8a: Voting rights are the bedrock of American democracy, yet for many people, that right is not a reality. Voter suppression has a long history in the United States and has largely affected people of color and women. On this week’s call-in show, we will focus on the white supremacist roots of voter suppression and how they affect the COVID-impacted 2020 election. We will explore felon voter laws and the fragile history of voting rights for Black people and Native Americans.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

In the last weeks of July, we saw high temperatures across the country. The streets heated up, and we’re not talking about the weather. We’re talking about federal forces sent to Portland, Chicago, Albuquerque and other cities. The arrival of these agents was met with public outcry and increased skepticism by lawmakers and residents alike. Others support the move. In episode 3, we take a look at what exactly is going on and what it means for our civil liberties and our democracy.

Vicki Moore via Flickr CC

As things stand, students across New Mexico will return to school in the Fall and follow a hybrid model. Teachers, parents, and students alike are concerned about safety, and funding is tight. One pioneering outdoor gardening elective is being cut. 

John Phelan / Wikimedia Commons

Tribal communities in New Mexico have been hit especially hard by the coronavirus, due to deep social and economic disparities resulting from colonization. Now, the pandemic threatens to make those disparities worse by hindering the 2020 Census count that will affect how much federal funding goes to tribes over the next decade. Shaun Griswold, urban Indigenous reporter with New Mexico In Depth, reports tribes are playing catch-up after public health shutdowns along with geography and other factors have led to low Census response rates so far. He told KUNM’s Hannah Colton that an undercount could mean a difference of millions of federal dollars going to basics like housing and education.   

Yasmin Khan / KUNM

 

Hundreds of masked protesters in white coats, green scrubs, and street clothes gathered six feet apart for a "die-in" yesterday outside the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Library to highlight anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism embedded in the health care system. Protesters honored the memory of George Floyd, denounced police brutality and white supremacy in medicine, and demanded change in their institution.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

 

Inmates across the country fear for their lives as the coronavirus sweeps through overpopulated jails and prisons. People incarcerated in New Mexico say they’re not getting enough hygiene products, space to distance from one another or good information about potential spread behind the walls. Facilities have done very little testing, and the Corrections Department has been slow to follow through on Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s April 6 order to release non-violent offenders who have less than a month left on their sentences. As of April 29, just 29 people had been discharged from state prisons, despite a 2019 study that identified ten times that number of people who could be immediately released into community corrections programs.

Courtesy of Chad Cooper

Episode 50 is all about athletes and sports, and the pandemic's impacts on the players, the communities, the economy—and our spirits. What are games like when the stands are empty? How do student athletes support each other as they navigate missed opportunities for big seasons, and maybe scholarships? How do physical activity and teamwork help keep folks connected and on the right track? And what do you do when some of that's gone for a minute? 


This story is powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

It's a sunny, spring afternoon and Holly Spriggs and her teenage son, Sawyer Michaud, are digging around in her giant garden outside of Lander, Wyo.

"We're working on planting some potatoes and onions before we get some moisture here," she says. 

Spriggs is having a great time, but Sawyer would rather be snowmobiling.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued interim guidance saying municipalities should not clear homeless encampments during the pandemic, because that can increase community spread and cause people to lose touch with service providers. The City of Albuquerque is still clearing encampments, but over the last several weeks the Albuquerque Police Department has changed some practices in interacting with people experiencing homelessness, according to APD Deputy Chief Harold Medina. He spoke with Khalil Ekulona, host of Your N.M. Government.

Kodak Views via Flickr CC

Episode 49 is all about the elections that are still coming up and the 2020 census. Advocates tell us that New Mexico is hard to count because it's big, area-wise, and because plenty of communities are intentionally discouraged from filling it out through fear tactics. The census determines how much federal funding comes to the state for all kinds of programs over the next 10 years, and it's how voting districts are determined. If brown and black communities around the U.S. don't participate in the census, advocates tell us, their political power is diluted. 

Hannah Colton / KUNM

Episode 48 dives back into how the pandemic is affecting people experiencing homelessness. KUNM's Hannah Colton goes further into the story of the city breaking up encampments, despite the CDC advising against it during this time, and she brings us the perspective of Cypher Johnson, who's passing through Albuquerque and spending time on the streets. We talk to people who work with unsheltered folks around the state about what an outbreak at a shelter would mean for the whole community, about what needs to change right now—and what needs to change in the future. We also hear from the Albuquerque Police Department and the Las Cruces Police Department about how coronavirus has changed things for them philosophically and practically. 

Terry Presley via Flickr CC

In episode 42, we talk to people of diverse faith backgrounds about how the pandemic is affecting them and their worship practices. On Monday, Legacy Church filed a lawsuit against the state, saying Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's weekend order banning gatherings—even in places of worship—was unconstitutional.  We spoke about the lawsuit with Legacy Church Pastor Daniel McCabe, who clarified what they're fighting for. 

Jon S via Flickr CC

In episode 41, we're tackling the impact of the shutdowns on local news outlets and thinking about the public service of journalism, and reporters and producers as essential information disseminators. We also hear about a proposal to include funds specifically for local news, as papers and broadcasters make impossible choices while they try to cover the pandemic for their communities.

Bryce Dix / KUNM

Episode 39 is focused on migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees in our communities, and on Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers, which are often overcrowded around the United States and are criticized for bad medical care. ICE announced it will review cases one-by-one and release vulnerable people. Officials and advocates say that's not anywhere near fast enough as COVID cases are cropping up around the country in ICE detention centers, and outbreaks in them could overwhelm regional hospitals.

Marc Cooper via Flickr CC

In episode 37, we're talking about companies and federal officials squeezing through changes to environmental regulation, oil and gas leases, and laws about anti-pipeline demonstrators while the nation's been focused on the pandemic.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

In episode 34,  we discover how prepared hospitals and health care facilities in New Mexico really are. And we go all over the state for this one.

Brad Charles

 

In episode 33, we learn about obstacles for tribes as they try to quell the virus' spread, including bureaucratic hurdles in accessing billions in federal funding that's been allotted to sovereign nations. National Native News anchor Antonia Gonzales tells us what she's learned from the reporting she's done. We also get to listen to her interviews with Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Stacy Bohlen, CEO of the National Indian Health Board.

Moyan Brenn via Wikimedia Commons CC

In episode 28, we talk to parents about what it's like to become the primary educators of their kids—and to be at home with them pretty much around the clock. And Amy Biehl High School Counselor Kathleen Moore offers wisdom and tips on working with your teen in this new world. 

Your NM Gov is back and shifting gears with weekday news updates on coronavirus, plus community stories, resources and an eye on government response.

In episode 26, host Khalil calls his folks. Then, he talks with Karen Meyers, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Initiative about scammers who are using COVID fears to prey on people. We also hear from Aging & Long-Term Services Secretary Katrina Hotrum-Lopez about what the state's seniors need, how people can pitch in and what changes are being made around the state.

As we go through each episode, we're talking about emerging resources in our community, and we'll continue posting them here.