COVID-19 updates for New Mexico, indigenous communities
On Wednesday, April 15th, Governor Lujan-Grisham held a press conference in which she updated New Mexicans on the status of COVID-19 infections in the state, including the growing number of cases occurring on the Navajo Nation. The rapidly escalating number of cases in indigenous communities, including both Navajo and Pueblo lands, has drawn attention across the nation, in part because it underscores an increasing awareness of the disparately harsher toll the virus is taking on the lower socioeconomic sectors of the country. Not only are those in poverty more likely to become infected due to higher rates of underlying medical conditions and lower access to quality medical care; it is also clear that those in poverty are more likely to experience negative economic impacts from the virus and the response to it. For many native and indigenous populations, these factors are further compounded by multigenerational households and a lack of critical infrastructure that heighten the risk of both infection and contagion, according to Allison Barlow, director of the Center for American Indian Health. These conditions have led government entities and indigenous businesses to set up special quarantine facilitiesfor members of indigenous communities who are awaiting coronavirus test results or who have already tested positive for the virus.
The governor also announced that New Mexico would be “working with the federal government on a pilot program related to contact tracing and surveillance related to tracking the spread of COVID-19,“ according to an article in the NM Political Report.
Census 2020 and COVID-19
The spread of the COVID-19 virus and the resulting closure of all non-essential businesses has already impacted the Census 2020 count in New Mexico. According to an article by the Associated Press, responses across the state are down by 10% at this time. This is due largely to the fact that 18% of New Mexicans, many of whom are rural and who “don’t have standard addresses or …[who] use P.O. boxes,” will not be receiving their census forms in the mail. Fortunately, Census field operations will be resuming in June, and field representatives will be making door to door visits at that time to all households who have not received their forms. It is recommended that those who have not yet received census forms in the mail wait until a visit from a census worker between June 13th – July 9th. For questions or additional information, please contact the El Valle Community Center at 575-421-0808 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Digital Divide and COVID-19
For many, the COVID-19 epidemic has emphasized the importance of broadband access. In a recent report on the larger economic impact of the coronoavirus pandemic, the Brookings Institute notes that “... for millions of Americans without in-home broadband, the consequences of digital disparity have become more apparent over the past few weeks….” as those without connectivity “face an even larger set of digital barriers than they did two months ago, whether it’s students who cannot attend school online, an adult who cannot telework, or a family who cannot get groceries delivered.” While school districts across the state are working to accommodate students without adequate internet connectivity as class work migrates to online platforms, the fact remains that those without a good internet connection and a reliable computer are likely to fall behind in school as a result of the current pandemic.
Learn more about state and local responses to the digital divide and the COVID-19 outbreak at the National Digital Inclusion Alliance COVID-19 response page.
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