The Governor asked organizations to cancel large meetings, so Retake will replace our in-person March 17 meeting with web-based Zoom, available statewide. Sit-in on Friday will be staged, but with “social distancing.”
State of Emergency In NM, 4 NM Cases. What a Contrast Between MLG & Trump
It was obvious last night that Trump’s handlers finally got through to him: don’t go off script and this is not the time to boast or attack Democrats. But the resulting announcement was so stiff, scripted, and emotionless, it could not possibly have reassured a very restless nation.
Trump failed to show concern for working people who have no insurance or have jobs where employers may not welcome employees calling in sick. He emitted no emotion, compassion or empathy, and except to indicate he would like to see some payroll tax relief and to ban travel from 26 European nations, he gave not an inkling as to federal actions. So while he tried to allay the concerns of the business community (tax relief), he didn’t talk about schools and how they should respond to the emergency or give states any indication of federal aid that would be coming to strapped state health departments. There was no mention of his plans to cancel future campaign rallies and that this is no time for partisan politics. He also didn’t mention any reimbursement to uninsured Americans to cover the cost of tests and treatment.
Trump offered no suggestions about what Americans should do to prevent further spread of the disease. He did manage to blame Europe for the spread of the disease, and then without any consultation with European allies, imposed the travel ban.
He also didn’t address the availability of test kits or offer any idea as to how many people had been tested, despite widespread reports of shortages. Indeed, reports suggest there is a shortage of “reagents,” a key component of the test, and that demand may be overwhelming the test producer. An online post from STAT, a pharmaceutical research website, claimed that Qiagen, the firm that produces the tests, confirmed a shortage does exist:
A Qiagen spokesperson acknowledged that “extraordinary” demand was limiting the company’s ability to supply some products, and said workers at its Hilden, Germany, and Barcelona, Spain, manufacturing sites were moving to work three shifts, seven days a week in order to ramp up production. The company is also bringing on new staff and making better use of a site in Germantown, Md., to try and make the test kits. “STAT
The STAT report went on to indicate that the US had conducted only 5,000 tests to date, a fraction of the number administered in China and South Korea. With a nation anxious, the lack of information only feeds our anxiety, and last night a leader would have stood before the American people and told the truth: “We have a problem with the availability of test kits and we are working as quickly as we can to address this challenge.” But Trump will never utter bad news or anything that might reflect negatively upon his administration. And so we are left to wonder how the nation will support states, accelerate testing, or manage public schools or travel within the US.
The State’s Response
By contrast, our Governor displayed great empathy, assuring us that the state had been preparing for this moment for months, announcing that New Mexico was declaring a state of emergency and encouraging people to avoid large gatherings.
This is really different. I don’t recall a historic moment like this. And many of us are at least uncertain, and maybe flat-out scared. The severity of the situation struck home with word that college basketball’s March Madness would be played without fans and that the NBA season was being cancelled for the foreseeable future.
In this context, we feels it is only responsible to cancel our in-person March 17 meeting. Many other organizations are doing the same. If you are planning to attend a coming event, we recommend you contact the sponsoring organization to affirm the status of that event.
Retake reached out to allies about whether we should be postponing large gatherings. From some leaders we heard “schools are in session, people are going to the market and to movies, if we announce preventive measures we can proceed…” At least for now, those meetings will still be held.
We feel that in a large meeting, it is almost impossible to prevent contact between people and between people and surfaces that could be hosting the virus. Many other organizations concur. Progressive Democrats of America in ABQ cancelled its monthly meeting, Working Families Party cancelled its training, and the Writers Resist event that Roxanne was working on was cancelled by the national organization sponsoring it. While the number of cases in NM is still small, without adequate testing it is hard to determine how much it has spread in NM and who may be carrying the virus. Even if carriers are young and not likely to incur serious symptoms, a young person could transmit the disease to an older adult who could have much more severe symptoms.
Most of Retake participants are over 60, many are over 70. Rather than cancel our March 17 meeting altogether, we will hold the meeting online via Zoom. We have some details to be worked out in the next day or so, but expect a Zoom invite in the Saturday post and in a statewide action alert.
By working through Zoom we obviously will miss the community building element of gathering together in person, but we will also be able to open up the meeting to a far wider audience as anyone with internet access can attend. There is also a “chat” function, so questions can be asked from anyone participating. For those who have never used Zoom, it is quite simple: you click on the Zoom invite link, agree to download an app which installs quickly and automatically, and then you are in the meeting.
So, we will talk about what happened in the Roundhouse in 2020 and lay out election plans together….from our virus-free couches.
We will begin with a debrief of the 2020 Legislative Session, but a good amount of time will be devoted to planning for the 2020 elections. We believe the 2020 election is likely the most important election of our lives, so this is a critical meeting. We will lay out plans for how you can be involved in the NM state primary and in the national election and our effort to depose the despot. Eric Griego, the State Director of Working Families Party, NM and Bruce Roach from Indivisible Nob Hill will describe how their organizations are advancing plans for fixing the NM State Senate in the June 2020 primaries and lay out how Retake as an organization or you as an individual can become involved.
There is no way to minimize this. Anyone paying any attention has seen reports of the chaos in Italy. The stock market continues to plummet. And we can’t be reassured by the guy in the White House. But New Mexico’s leadership appears to have as good a grip on this as is possible. And in the end, this virus is demonstrating just how woefully unprepared we are for this kind of crisis and so hopefully we can build our resilience and response capacity to any future epidemics. Also hopefully, our collective response will illustrate what a caring, resilient people can do when they pull together. Hang in there. Wash your hands, bump elbows, limit contact with groups, and be well.
Paul & Roxanne