COVID-19

News Brief

Low vaccination rates make many counties in the Mountain West especially vulnerable to the COVID-19 delta variant right now, according to data from the public health research group PHICOR. That’s prompting tough new action from some state and federal officials.

On Thursday, President Biden announced he’s asking all federal employees to “attest” to their vaccination status. Those who aren’t vaccinated will also need to submit to weekly testing and will be mostly banned from travel. There are roughly 160,000 federal employees living in the Mountain West.

Elizabeth Bailey / Tricorp Laboratories and Christopher Productions, LLC

While New Mexico’s percentage of fully vaccinated sits at 64.5% for people 18 and older, there has been a drop off in the number of people receiving vaccinations. Vaccine hesitancy is often cited as the main reason. A new documentary, "Vaccination From The Misinformation Virus," looks to address the effectiveness of vaccines and why some are hesitant to take them.

Marco Fileccia via Unsplash / Creative Commons

The state Public Education Department Monday, July 26, released updated COVID-19 guidance for next school year. The next day, the CDC released stricter guidance on masking for K-12 students in response to rising cases linked largely to the Delta variant. Education Secretary Ryan Stewart spoke with KUNM’s Nash Jones about building out new COVID-safe practices for the state’s schools in a shifting landscape.

Branden Paul has got the look. The dyed black pompadour. The bedazzled suit. The sunglasses. He’s an Elvis impersonator and, on a recent Wednesday, he guided two young women – Jess Sandoval and Alana Stroebel – through some special vows at the Graceland wedding chapel in downtown Las Vegas.

“Jess, I want you to look Alana in the eyes and say, ‘I promise to always love you tender and never leave you at the Heartbreak Hotel,” Paul said to laughter.

Schools Get Mixed Messaging On Mask Policies

Jul 21, 2021

News Brief

Experts largely agree that schools should open to in-person learning this fall, but there’s disagreement on masking policies.

The CDC recommends, “Masks should be worn indoors by all individuals (age 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated.”

UNMH


The University of New Mexico Thursday announced an incentive program to encourage students and staff to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as it prepares to open for more normal, in-person, instruction next month.

Paul Bradshaw / Creative Commons

We are officially a few days into New Mexico’s reopening. Restaurants and venues are now at full capacity. Some people are eschewing their masks and are ready to have some summer fun. But what about people who are not ready to move on? What about the great losses we collectively and individually suffered? How are we supposed to move on, as if nothing happened? This week we continue our conversation on grief and transformation as we discover ways to process the events of the pandemic and its effects on families, friends, communities, and ourselves.

GUESTS:

Alachua County via Flickr CC 2.0


Let’s Talk New Mexico 7/8 8am: Have you noticed “help wanted” signs in the windows of your favorite restaurants and businesses? The COVID-19 pandemic has caused chaos in the economy for more than a year, and now there’s a labor shortage. Last week Axios reported 10 million Americans out of work, yet there are 9 million vacant positions waiting to be filled. Employers are frustrated, sometimes offering higher wages and hiring bonuses to get the help they need. Others are opting to close businesses earlier or stay closed on less busy days because they don’t have the staff for normal hours. Some business owners are angry, blaming the government for the pandemic related unemployment insurance bonuses they see as motivation for workers to stay home. 

Albuquerque Journal pool photo


  Let’s Talk New Mexico 7/1 8am:Most of our state’s COVID-related restrictions are set to lift on Thursday, July 1st, and many New Mexicans will be celebrating. However, the pandemic is not over yet. 31% of New Mexico's population still hasn't been fully vaccinated, and the WHO recently released a statement urging continued use of masks, even for fully vaccinated folks, in order to protect from the Delta variant.

Roxy Tocin

New Mexico will be fully reopened on July 1, and people are getting back to what some describe as normal activities. But how can we just get back to normal after we all went through—more than a year of heavy, powerful change? What about all the losses people suffered? Loved ones and friends are gone. Homes taken away. Careers and opportunities disappeared. The future you thought you were heading toward vanished. And your old self—who you thought you were—that person might be gone or different, too. How can we move ahead while honoring what has occurred?

In episode 33. we search for clues about how to carry our freshly transformed selves forward into the future. We find some perspective about grief and transformation, in this new form of normal.

Jett Loe, UNM Health Sciences


  University Showcase, Friday 6/18 8a: As the coronavirus pandemic took hold in New Mexico in April 2020, Dr. Heather Jarrell stepped into a new role --- interim chief medical examiner at the Office of the Medical Investigator. On this episode, we talk with Dr. Jarrell about how the pandemic affected her office and staff, especially with the ongoing shortage of forensic pathologists here and around the country. She also talks about the need to recruit more young people into the field. 

Tom.Arthur via Flickr / Creative Commons https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/


Let’s Talk New Mexico 6/17 8am: Last September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention instituted a moratorium on residential evictions to keep people without secure incomes from losing their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. New Mexico followed suit with a similar state-wide protection order. For ten months the moratoriums have protected thousands of New Mexico renters, but at the same time back rents have continued to accrue and landlords have gone without the income they count on. With the national order protecting tenants scheduled to expire on June 30th and no clear endpoint for the state’s moratorium, there is potential for a massive number of evictions if nothing is done. Join us this week as we discuss the national and state residential eviction moratoriums, as well as programs set up to help tenants get caught up on payments.    

Pexels

New Mexico Banks On Cash Incentives To Meet Vaccine Goal - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

New Mexico residents who get vaccinated against COVID-19 will now be eligible for a $100 incentive as the state began a hard push Monday.

Nash Jones / KUNM

It’s been a month since fully-vaccinated New Mexicans were allowed to stop wearing face masks in most public spaces and businesses got a choice as to whether to require them of all customers. Still, reaction to the newfound flexibility remains varied and somewhat confusing for both businesses and their customers. 

How Many Indigenous People Died From COVID-19? Unknown.

Jun 9, 2021
Illustration by Jolene Nenibah Yazzie
Stansbury campaign

Tuesday night Albuquerque Democrat Melanie Stansbury celebrated her victory with a crowd chanting her name after winning the congressional seat left open when Deb Haaland was asked to serve as President’s Biden’s Interior Secretary.

Stansbury flouted her Albuquerque roots and a working-class upbringing through the campaign and during a victory speech at Hotel Albuquerque.

University of New Mexico

University Showcase, Friday 5/21 8a: Each year the University of New Mexico recognizes a faculty member with its Community Engaged Research Lecture award. On this episode, Professor Jennifer Nez Denetdale from the American Studies Department talks about her lecture "Dikos Ntsaaígíí  ̶ Building the Perfect Human to Invade: A Diné Feminist Analysis of the Pandemic and the Navajo Nation.”

New Mexico Department of Health

Many Hispanic Americans who aren't yet vaccinated against the coronavirus are eager to get the shot, according to the results of a new survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation. 33 Percent of unvaccinated Hispanic respondents reported wanting to get vaccinated "as soon as possible," compared to about 16% of unvaccinated non-Hispanic white and Black respondents.

Megan Kamerick

Revised state guidelines on virus restrictions that took effect on April 30 mean restaurants in Bernalillo County can now have indoor dining at 50 percent capacity. These restrictions have fluctuated over the past year and that’s been challenging for restaurants as they laid off staff, reduced hours and adapted to more takeout service.

Canva / Creative Commons

Public schools in New Mexico started fully in-person classes this month for the first time in over a year. Some students chose to stay remote, others returned, and some of those who went back are already remote again due to COVID exposure. On this week’s Let’s Talk New Mexico, we’re hearing from students about how it’s going.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

 In the race for herd immunity, New Mexico is being heralded around the country as an unlikely frontrunner. Over half of the state’s population has gotten at least one dose of vaccine. But when it comes to some demographics hit hardest by the virus, vaccination rates are falling short. The numbers continue to highlight what the pandemic put into sharp relief—structural racism interfering with public health efforts.

Nash Jones / KUNM

Local artisans who rely heavily on markets and festivals to sell their products were hard hit during the pandemic as many events were canceled, postponed, or reduced their capacities. In response, new opportunities popped up around Albuquerque for these creative vendors to showcase their goods. As the Downtown Growers’ Market kicks off Saturday, April 17, with more vendors and customers than last year, some of the pandemic-era solutions for local artists are set to stick around. 

Shelley Mann-Lev

The first week of April is National Public Health Week – a time set aside to recognize recent successes of public health workers and a time for them to reevaluate their communities’ most dire needs.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

New Mexico public schools welcomed students back to fully in-person class this week for the first time since the pandemic began. KUNM spoke with Monica Armenta, Executive Director of Communication for Albuquerque Public Schools, about how the week is starting off, and why some students are choosing to stay remote.  

Canva / Creative Commons

Unlike the class of 2020, which had virtual graduation ceremonies due to the pandemic, Albuquerque Public Schools announced Monday, April 5, that this year’s seniors will be able to accept their diplomas in person.

Vanessa Bowen

2020 was a long year. We don't have to tell you. It was a constant barrage of reality-shaping events, and it hasn’t stopped. What is different for us now that we are on the verge of—maybe, knock on wood—coming out of the pandemic? How are the leaders we elected approaching their duties now? How are activists applying what they’ve learned to push their causes forward? How are the people who experienced hardship pre-pandemic adapting to a possible post-pandemic life? No More Normal reflects on last year while keeping our focus on the future.

SizeSquares / Shutterstock

This week, federal officials issued dire warnings of a potential fourth wave of coronavirus cases and deaths if Americans let their guards down. President Joe Biden urged governors to maintain or reinstate mask mandates to ward off a surge.

MivPiv via CC / IStock

People who are incarcerated faced a lack of resources when it came to access to health care and PPE during the pandemic. A couple of bills before lawmakers in New Mexico during the last legislative session could have addressed those problems, but prison reform has been placed on the back-burner for another year. KUNM’s Taylor Velazquez spoke with Lalita Moskowitz from the ACLU of New Mexico about the dangerous conditions inside private prisons.

Denver Indian Health and Family Services

This is the second in a two-part series about the vaccine rollout in Indian Country. Part one looks at the success of the rollout on rural reservations.

 

The Indian Health Service has delivered coronavirus vaccine doses to the most far-flung corners of the country. From remote villages in Alaska to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, Indigenous Americans as young as 16 have had access to the shot for weeks.

Amanda Fehring

 

This is the first in a two-part series about the vaccine rollout in Indian Country. Part two looks at the challenges of vaccinating our region's urban Native population. 

 

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