COVID-19

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.

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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. 

 

bug carlson


 Twelve months ago, team NoMoNo was busy having conversations about how we were going to make a show that covered the response to a global pandemic. What did we want to talk about? What was not being talked about? What was the vital info? What were the nuances? What life-and-death decisions were being made by public officials. Who needed help—and where is the help? We’ve worked hard over the last year to provide those answers. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken the lives of more than 20,000 people across the Mountain West. One of those people was Belarmina Martinez, a mother of eight and an aunt to nearly 20 nieces and nephews. She loved her family, food and dancing the most.

Savannah Maher

President Joe Biden is expected to sign the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill into law on Friday. It includes the largest ever one-time federal investment in Indian Country, with $20 billion in direct aid to tribal governments, and another $11 billion set aside for federal Indian programs. 

The aid comes as many tribal nations in the Mountain West are struggling to stay afloat.

Let's Talk New Mexico 3/11 8am: There’s now a third COVID-19 vaccine available in our state and more New Mexicans than ever are getting called in to get the jab. But how will the process be affected by the state's new goal of getting all K-12 educators and early childhood professionals their first dose by the end of March? And what about kids? Should they get vaccinated?

On the next Let’s Talk New Mexico, we’ll dive into the newest phase of COVID vaccination with guests from the Department of Health and community health organizations. We'll also talk to disease and vaccine specialists and medical doctors who can answer your questions about COVID-19 and immunization.

Alliance for Excellent Education via Flickr / Creative Commons BY 2.0: creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Almost exactly a year after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham first ordered K-12 schools closed to reduce spread of the coronavirus, her administration announced all schools statewide must fully reopen by April 5.

The People's Tribune via Flickr


The New Mexico Senate last week passed Memorial 1, hoping to bring more children outdoors to learn. Eileen Everett from Environmental Education of New Mexico said their many partnerships, including with UNM Law School’s Wild Friends helped shape the legislation to bring kids’ learning out from the indoor classroom.

Nash Jones / KUNM


New Mexico says it is among the top states for getting COVID-19 vaccines into people's arms, but until more vaccine becomes available there are still more arms waiting than there are shots to give. Unmet demand has people looking for ways to get vaccinated sooner – like driving to other states or hanging around pharmacies at the end of the day. However, the New Mexico Department of Health published an order Monday creating penalties for healthcare providers who give shots out of turn and for people who are untruthful on their vaccine registrations.

PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay / Creative Commons

Recent surveys show that the U.S. Latino population is skeptical and mistrusts the COVID-19 vaccine, with nearly 30% saying they are unlikely to get it. University of New Mexico Political Science professor and Director of the UNM Center for Social Policy Gabriel Sanchez co-authored a study published by the Brookings Institution last month that digs deeper into this data. The report highlights the historical roots of this fear, and makes recommendations for community-specific outreach efforts that could increase equity in vaccine distribution. Dr. Sanchez spoke with KUNM’s Nash Jones about the report and why some Latinos said they are reluctant to get the vaccine. 

Bytemarks via Flickr / Creative Commons


About 100,000 New Mexicans are on the state’s rolls for unemployment insurance right now. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of them qualify for longer-than-usual periods of benefits that expired last year, but have now been reinstated and extended to March 13.

The pandemic has been disastrous for many small business owners, but especially for those who opened in the middle of public health orders and lockdowns. Diego Diaz and his family opened Tio David’s Peruvian Flavor last May in Albuquerque’s Nob Hill. But because they didn’t open before February 2020, they were not eligible for any of the COVID-related federal loans or grants for businesses. He has started a crowdfunding campaign for the restaurant.

Acoma Learning Center

It's a Wednesday evening in December. Five o'clock means the end of my work day, and the start of Wampanoag language class.

"Wunee wunôq," my language teacher, Tracy Kelly, greets me as I join the Zoom call from my kitchen table in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Nash Jones / KUNM

As New Mexico schools got the go-ahead last month from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to resume partial in-person teaching beginning Feb. 8, revised re-entry plans have come before districts for debate. The Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education on Wednesday, Feb. 3, postponed a decision about students going back to the classroom after several hours of discussion. Prior to the board meeting, protesters gathered outside the district's headquarters.

As highly contagious coronavirus variants spread, health experts in the Mountain West and beyond are urging people to upgrade and double up their masks.

Courtesy of the Dennison family

 

Karlets Dennison's favorite place to be was on a horse. Preferably with loved ones riding alongside him.

"That was his love. His horses, his ranch, his rodeo," said his wife Debbie Jackson-Dennison. "And he loved sharing it with his kids and his granddaughter."

Arianna Sena / KUNM


Coronavirus has infiltrated the Roundhouse, where New Mexico’s legislators are in the early weeks of a 60-day session. Since mid-January when the session began, at least three people in the capital have tested positive for the virus, including one GOP lawmaker. On Friday, Democratic House Speaker Brian Egolf announced new rules, restricting participation in committee meetings to Zoom, and closing the House floor to most lawmakers. KUNM spoke with Matt Grubs from New Mexico PBS.

Christopher Webb via Flickr / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Let’s Talk New Mexico, Thursday, 2/4, 8a: Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham recently announced that New Mexico public school districts  would have the option of re-opening under several different in-person schooling models starting February 8th. But many New Mexicans have questions.  Will this return be safe? What happens if COVID rates increase? And what options are on the table for districts looking to enact one of the hybrid models?

As President Joe Biden calls for a 100-day mask challenge, a new study finds the majority of adults in the U.S. still don't wear masks consistently when they socialize with people outside of their household.

A new report finds that pandemic-related job loss will cause twice as much chronic homelessness than the 2008 Great Recession, with Latinos and African Americans especially vulnerable.

Some of the Mountain West's COVID-19 hotspots have been, and continue to be, areas with major ski resorts.



Rebecca Travers lives in Casper, Wyo. Until late last year, the 42-year-old had been working at a non-profit that helps volunteer organizations across the state.

Nash Jones / KUNM

New Mexico opened up a new phase in its rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine on Friday and, on Tuesday, the Trump administration announced it will begin speeding up distribution of available doses. KUNM’s Nash Jones spoke with Matt Bieber, Communications Director for the Department of Health, about the state’s strategies for getting more shots into more arms, and how the process works.

Adobe Stock

 

State lawmakers across the Mountain West are convening for legislative sessions that will focus largely on the fallout of the pandemic. But without significant precautions, statehouses could become hotbeds for COVID-19 spread.

Legislative sessions typically bring together hundreds of lawmakers, legislative staff, lobbyists, journalists, and members of the public. They travel to and from every corner of a given state and gather indoors, sometimes in cramped meeting spaces.

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