Public Health New Mexico

Mission

KUNM‘s Public Health New Mexico reporting project provides in-depth, investigative and continuous coverage of public health in New Mexico, with an emphasis on poverty.

We cover the politicians, the policies, and the agencies responsible for sustaining public health and solving poverty. To fully report on these topics, we give voice to those who are voiceless in the media: people and practitioners; advocates and analysts; researchers and activists; and people hoping to build a better way of life. Through our work, citizens are engaged, government is made more accountable, and the profile of public health and poverty is elevated by expanded public discourse and civic engagement.

This project has been sustained by support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundationthe McCune Charitable FoundationCon Alma Health Foundation. and private donors.

KUNM broadcasts on transmitter throughout central and northern New Mexico, reaching more than half the state’s population.  Nielsen Audio Research from Fall 2014 shows 100,000 people a week listen to KUNM.

Marshall Segal via Flickr / Creative Commons 2.0 license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

A new statewide mask mandate goes into effect Friday, Aug. 20, across New Mexico. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is also mandating vaccinations for anyone attending the New Mexico State Fair in September. She urged officials with the upcoming Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta to take similar precautions.But reporter Shaun Griswold raised concerns about another iconic New Mexico event -- Santa Fe Indian Market.

pixy.org


  The coronavirus pandemic has taken a terrible toll on mental well-being as people cope with isolation, fear and uncertainty. KUNM’s Megan Kamerick talked with Ryan Williamson about his decision to seek therapy for the first time, and clinical psychologist Dr. Gerald Chavez for a segment that originally aired on our media partner New Mexico PBS.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

An effort to get public money out of private ICE detention in New Mexico saw a partial victory this week. A coalition of educators and immigrants rights advocates have been urging the New Mexico Educational Retirement Board to drop investments in CoreCivic and GEO Group, corporations that own or manage three-quarters of migrant detention facilities in the U.S and are accused of a range of civil and human rights abuses. Between the two, they also imprison hundreds of state and federal inmates in four New Mexico counties.

In a retirement board meeting Friday, members pushed off a decision to divest until later this fall. But the stock market decided for them in one case: CoreCivic is being dropped from the fund’s portfolio this week due to poor financial returns. 

Hannah Colton / KUNM

Calls for a major New Mexico retirement fund to drop investments in companies that operate private prisons and ICE detention may finally be answered this week. After over a year of pressure from a growing coalition of teachers and advocates, the New Mexico Educational Retirement Board could vote this Friday on a proposal to divest from GEO Group and Core Civic.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

 

Correction, 8/13: The original headline for this story read: "N.M. Corrections Department Expected To Release 300 Prisoners By The End Of July." An NMCD spokesperson now says that figure was based on inaccurate reporting by KOAT-TV in early July about the department's intentions. We've detailed the misunderstanding below, and will update this story as we learn more. 

New Mural Honors Victims Of State Violence In N.M.

Jul 20, 2020
Hannah Colton / KUNM

Communities across the country are demanding justice for people killed by police. In Albuquerque, the SouthWest Organizing Project is creating a mural to honor victims of police shootings and other forms of state violence in New Mexico. On Friday, organizers invited community members to gather and write the names of victims. KUNM spoke with some folks there. 

Pikist

Supreme Court Grants Governor’s Request For Stay On Dining Case KUNM, Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

The State Supreme Court has granted a stay requested by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham after a district judge issued an order that would have allowed indoor dining despite a public health order issued by the governor.

Hannah Colton / KUNM


Police violence takes many forms, and some communities in Albuquerque experience it much more than others. On Let's Talk New Mexico this week, we'll hear about how law enforcement has responded to Black Lives Matter protests over the last week in Albuquerque. How do you see police operating in your community? What needs to happen to end racist police violence in New Mexico? Join the conversation by emailing letstalk@kunm.org, or call in live at 277-5866.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

Let's Talk New Mexico 5/28, 8a: Many of the people protesting COVID-related restrictions around New Mexico are white, while the virus has disproportionately impacted Native communities. This week on Let’s Talk New Mexico, we look at how whiteness plays into anti-shutdown responses in towns that border tribal communities.

National Park Service

The coronavirus pandemic has upended normal food distribution networks, especially for meat. It has also left ranchers struggling, unable to get their cattle to market as the virus sickens workers in processing plants around the country and slows production. New Mexico ranchers are working on ways around these problems by going directly to consumers, and they’re hoping it will spark long-term change in the industry. 

Let's Talk Cleaning Crew

May 19, 2020
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.

  

The FBI is investigating an online attack on a UNM professor last week that included a threat of lynching at his home. In response to the racist messages, UNM held a virtual town hall Tuesday featuring black faculty talking about ways to combat anti-blackness on campus.

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.

YNMG & COVID: Coming Home To A Pandemic

May 1, 2020
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.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

The American Civil Liberties Union and prison activists have been calling on Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to take measures to prevent a mass outbreak of COVID-19 since before her April 6 order directing the New Mexico Corrections Department to identify prisoners who could be released. As of April 29, the department says just 29 inmates have been released out of about 6,700 people in New Mexico state prisons. Advocates have been gathering outside prisons in car rallies every Friday in April, demanding the state ensure inmates’ safety during the pandemic.

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.

Pixnio

Hospital workers around the U.S. have been speaking up about concerns over working conditions and the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE). Former UNM Hospital nurse Hunter Marshall says he was threatened with discipline after speaking to the media about staff concerns at the hospital. So he decided to resign, he says, and look for another hospital to work in during the pandemic. Your New Mexico Government spoke with a nurse, a union representatives and doctors at UNMH about PPE and workers' rights to speak out.

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.

Hannah Colton / KUNM

There have been zero confirmed cases of the coronavirus among people experiencing homelessness in Albuquerque so far, city leaders say. KUNM is following the city’s efforts to prevent an outbreak in that population, and one gap stands out: the city continues to break up unsheltered people’s encampments, despite guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention not to do so during the pandemic. The CDC says clearing encampments can worsen community spread by causing people to disperse and lose connections with service providers, and they say not to do it unless it’s to move folks into individual housing units. KUNM has more on the City of Albuquerque’s treatment of encampments during the pandemic and about one man’s experience living on the streets this past month.

el-toro via Flickr / Creative Commons . https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

New Mexico Mayor Vows To Reopen City Despite Lockdown Order - By Russell Contreras, Associated Press

The mayor of the of Grants has announced that he will allow small businesses to reopen in defiance of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's order that's keeping nonessential businesses closed.

IRS Gives Some Folks Just 48 Hours To File For Dependents Stimulus

Apr 21, 2020
Matthew Bisanz / Wikimedia Commons

  The number of grandparents raising their grandkids has been rising all over the country, and especially in New Mexico. Those folks might be affected by a last-minute deadline the IRS announced Monday, April 20. People who get federal benefits—and who didn’t file a tax return in 2018 or 2019—only have until Wednesday, April 22, at 10 a.m. MST to fill out a form on the online IRS portal to get stimulus money for their dependents.

Megan Kamerick / KUNM

Let's Talk New Mexico 4/23, 8a: More health care workers in New Mexico are testing positive for COVID-19 as the state approaches an expected peak in cases later this spring. Hospitals are laying off workers as the ban on elective surgeries and other procedures slams their bottom lines. On this week’s call-in show, we’ll hear about how prepared the state’s health care system is for a surge of coronavirus patients. Are workers getting the protective equipment they need? How would hospitals handle potential shortages of intensive care beds and ventilators? To join in the conversation, email letstalks@kunm.org or call in live during the show on Thursday morning.

Google Maps

Reports are emerging of people held in crowded ICE detention facilities around the country testing positive for the coronavirus. In New Mexico, a man who'd left the Otero County Processing Center told KVIA-TV this week that a young boy inside had contracted COVID-19, a report that was later confirmed by ICE officials. Immigrant advocates in New Mexico and elsewhere have been calling on ICE since March to create plans to prevent outbreaks and to release people most at risk of serious illness. On Wednesday, U.S. Representative Deb Haaland joined a coalition of Congress members in calling for the release of non-violent people who are being detained.

Courtesy Enrique Cardiel

The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued guidelines in March that cities should not break up homeless encampments during the COVID-19 pandemic, because that can cause people to disperse and increase the spread of the coronavirus. But some advocates say police and city officials in Albuquerque have been clearing encampments as recently as Friday, April 3.

Let's Talk Physical Distancing And Social Coping

Apr 8, 2020
Hannah Colton / KUNM


Lets Talk New Mexico 4/9, 8a: Many New Mexicans have been living with the strictures of social distancing for several weeks, and we have to wonder what kind of effect that is having on mental and emotional health. This week on the call-in show, we’ll talk about life in the stay-at-home age and ask how well the practice is working to limit the spread of COVID-19. We want to hear from you! How are you dealing with the ways that social distancing has changed your life?

Let's Talk Coronavirus: Three Weeks In

Apr 1, 2020
Hannah Colton / KUNM

Let's Talk New Mexico 4/2, 8a: As we near the one-month mark of living with COVID-19 in New Mexico, we'll check in with state and federal officials to hear how they're handling the latest public health challenges. What new kinds of support do you want to see from state agencies? How will Congress' $2 trillion dollar coronavirus relief bill help our state's most vulnerable people?  How are school districts and individual teachers adapting to meet students' needs and comply with state education laws? 

Hannah Colton / KUNM

Let's Talk New Mexico 3/27, 8a: The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply shaken many of our basic systems in just a few weeks. Changes that once seemed unthinkable to many, like releasing prisoners, closing entire school districts, or disallowing evictions, have now come to pass. How are people and institutions adapting to provide necessities during this crisis? What might a post-coronavirus world look like? We want to hear from you. Email LetsTalk@kunm.org or call in live during the show at (505) 277-5866. 

Tim Mossholder / pexels.com

The U.S. Senate passed a relief package Wednesday that includes a boost for unemployment. If the House also approves the measure and President Trump signs it, self-employed folks, gig workers or contractors, and furloughed workers qualify. The package also increases how much money people will get. KUNM’s Khalil Ekulona spoke with Department of Workforce Solutions Secretary Bill McCamley about how the state was handling the spike in demand. 

Let's Talk Coronavirus: Births, Weddings And Deaths

Mar 25, 2020
Hannah Colton / KUNM

Let's Talk New Mexico 3/26, 8a: Life's normal pace seems to be grinding to a halt for many New Mexicans, but some things never change. Babies are born, loved ones pass away, couples get hitched -- so what do those big, life-changing celebrations and events look like in the time of quarantine? On our next KUNM call-in show, we'll speak with folks who are navigating births, deaths, and marriages during the pandemic, and helping others do the same. And we want to hear from you! Email letstalk@kunm.org or call in during the show at (505) 277-5866. 

Airman ST Class Kayla Newman

Let's Talk New Mexico 3/25, 8a: The coronavirus has now reached 11 counties in New Mexico, with 100 cases of COVID-19 now confirmed mostly in the Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Las Cruces areas. "Non-essential" workers are now staying home. Amid all this fearful uncertainty, it's heartening to hear how communities are building new ways to care for each other. We're spending our mornings this week taking your calls about the coronavirus pandemic, and we want to hear what's happening in your home or neighborhood. How are you coping with the anxieties and sudden lifestyle changes? How are you staying busy and getting creative about keeping up with loved ones from a distance? Email LetsTalk@kunm.org or call in live during the show at 277-5866. 

Pages