NM State of Emergency: Retake Cancels Mtg. Will Use Zoom

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.

Retake’s Response

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.

In Closing

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.

In solidarity,

Paul & Roxanne



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7 replies

  1. Thank goodness we have a democrat in charge, but there really is no good way to deal with this, all we can do is slow it down. As usual the wingnuts come out of the woodwork, angry individuals, and right wing trolls, airing their spiteful views, and Bible verses in the newspaper. They still don’t understand the level of the administrations, bungling, profiteering, and incompetence. There was a time our CDC would have been on the ground on day one, not anymore. Trump was afraid of endangering his trade deal. We are going to see what years of regulatory capture, greedy industry insiders, under funding, and lack of competent leadership, will do.

    The local media is not covering the number of people locally in the gig economy, some working a part time shift in food service, then off to their healthcare job, the maybe a point of sale job. There are a lot people that are marginally homeless, no running water, living in vehicles, a lot of these are employed in food service, handling food, or in contact with the public.

    Our local hospital has already stated they are “at capacity” and likely other hospitals are too. That means they have no ability to admit anyone. We have no idea if health workers are adequately protected or even able to get tested, if they are exposed. No one ever thinks about the janitorial staff, and other support positions. The don’t want people to panic or get angry, so they are not going to dig into these systems problems, until their is a crisis.

    Our governor worked as a consultant for the insurance industry, yet she did not notice how stretched our system was already. New Mexico has a two tiered healthcare system, so it is unlikely that people on Medicaid will get tested even if they work in healthcare or food service.

    Of course no public health crisis is off limits for the profiteers in Neoliberalism. The local marijuana industry saw an opportunity to do a little advertising. https://www.sfreporter.com/news/2020/03/11/cannabis-industry-warily-watches-virus/ Notice how they are a advising people to wash their hands, yet most public restrooms, in restaurants, and gas stations do not even have soap and hot water. I doubt that they sent out any inspectors.

    They are a lot more concerned about the impact on the economy, not the families with vulnerable family members at home. New Mexico has a lot of grandparents taking care of their grandchildren, who can bring the virus home to an elderly vulnerable grandparent. We saw chaos during the 2009 H1N1 flu virus, plenty of people chose not to get vaccinated. The inherent selfishness, so prevalent in our society, will again expose the flaws, but the denial will continue.

    New Mexico might be lucky enough to ride this out, due to our low population density. We are in for a double whammy, the oil and gas industry is about to crash.

    https://www.thedailybeast.com/coronavirus-is-a-ticking-time-bomb-for-americas-uninsure

    https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/02/07/neoliberalism-and-the-coronavirus/

  2. I’m glad to hear our Governor is taking this seriously.
    Here is an excellent article which thoroughly covers the details about the epidemic that are known so far.
    https://medium.com/@tomaspueyo/coronavirus-act-today-or-people-will-die-f4d3d9cd99ca

    I’m sorry that I won’t be seeing everyone on Tuesday, but you’re right to cancel the in-person meeting, Paul & Roxanne.

  3. A good call, Paul. We’ll be watching it on The Zoom link.

  4. You did the right thing to cancel the meeting.

  5. And then there are all the wackos denying this, not taking precautions, and putting as all at risk. The non-believers in science. Thanks for being rational here.

  6. We also just postponed 2 events over the coming 2 weekends. Not worth risking the spread. Can anyone enlighten me about the ubiquitous use of the word, resilient? It’s the latest buzz word, which drives me nuts. We are not resilient and our country is a mess. I agree that we are lucky to have Democrats in charge in NM.

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