We had to go with COVID for our inaugural headlining article. Even though one of our main objectives is for our articles, podcasts, and videos to be relevant even after the story isn’t making the news cycle, we felt the need to tackle one of the only news stories covered in the media.
It was challenge writing a piece that could still be relevant and entertain a year from now when COVID is a distant memory, while also reflecting as many of our core competencies such as the use of stats and adding previous unknown information to people’s understandings.
Please enjoy our attempt at threading this needle – The tragic story of how New Mexico’s corruption spread COVID 19 rapidly, and hampered its success for decades.
The state by state Coronavirus restrictions went just as expected: Texas gave businesses the choice to stay open or close, while California mandated a stay-at-home order that did not apply to its politicians.
While most of us can predict the actions these big states take, not many people can tell you what a stereotypical New Mexican “move” is. Afterall it’s one of the poorest states in the nation, and as is American tradition, nobody gives a fuck about the poor.
Most New Mexicans will agree that NM is the Land of Blunders. NM has amazing weather. A ton of oil. Great culture and history. Amazing food. Great Universities, one of them attended by Jeff Bezos. Bill Gates started Microsoft in NM. But at every turn, New Mexico blundered, and it couldn’t capitalize on its potential and opportunities.
And it was the same old story with COVID 19.
COVID guidelines in NM were set by governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.
Before we cast any judgement on Grisham’s policies, let’s summarize what the restrictions were.
– At the end of March, all non-essential businesses and K-12 were shut down.
– In mid-May, most businesses could be open, but with masks
– In July, restaurants and breweries were forced to shut down again, and masks became mandatory even outdoors.
– Over the two weeks around Thanksgiving, all non-essential businesses were shut down, and people were encouraged to call the police if they saw any holiday gatherings of over 5 people.
Seems rather reasonable: As cases went up, there were more restrictions, and as cases came down, more things can be opened. Sure you could follow CDC guidelines that say business closures aren’t effective, but it’s at least a logical strategy for the unscientific mind.
During the early months of the pandemic, Governor Grisham gained national praise for her leadership.
But COVID cases kept going up. Then they outpaced national trends, and no one knew why. New Mexico was dropped from national headlines as a Gold Star COVID state.
If you live in New Mexico, you know exactly what happened – you just don’t talk about it.
Throughout the entire pandemic, the film industry was open, hosting actors and actresses, productions crew, directors, extras, and catering services from all around the world.
Behind closed doors, Grisham cut a deal with the film industry classifying them on the top tier of essential services, at the same level as hospitals. In all of the material describing which businesses were considered essential, the film industry did not appear. But most New Mexicans knew about this classification because if you’ve ever been around a film crew, everyone from the intern to the star actor – those people are wild. Cocaine is everywhere, and you have to remove your mask to do that. You also don’t want to be that one guy who insists on not sharing straws. It’s also very incestuous.
Even though the film industry claims they have very strict anti-COVID measures in place, they are clearly not working. The only people I know who contracted COVID in New Mexico have been connected to the film industry in one way or another.
To be clear I’m not shitting on the New Mexico film industry. Clearly COVID 19 hasn’t killed many people in film, else we would have heard about it through song. I fully support the New Mexico film industry being open and operational.
But giving them preferential treatment because of the money they bring into the state mitigates the sacrifices other businesses are making by staying closed, even to the point of going out of business.
New Mexico could have been a place that really controlled the virus and been a leader in viral infectious control. Or a state that kept everything open, supported businesses, and encouraged an influx of money and people into its metropolitan areas like Austin.
But instead it blundered again because our politician prioritized their short term gains for long term pain.
All of us are hoping and praying that we’ll be back to normal soon through vaccines, herd immunity, or through more public awareness that COVID 19 is deadly only 0.008% of the time if you’re under 65 with no underlying conditions (shorturl.at/lFIM9).
New Mexico is a huge pot smoking state. But it’s still not legal so there’s no taxes collected to help our terrible school systems. There’s also corruption between the medical marijuana companies and the government preventing the issuance of additional grow licenses. NM could have been Colorado. Could have been Seattle with Microsoft. Could have been San Francisco with Jeff Bezos and Amazon.
But it’s not.