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Governor’s pandemic orders have done right by Gallup

In today’s COVID-19-charged atmosphere it is easy for everyone to have an opinion on whether or not Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is doing a good job by the citizens of New Mexico. The impact on families and our economy have been astounding and continue to worsen as news of reinfection and limited, if any, herd immunity is making the headlines.

In Gallup, we believe the governor has done an excellent job to ensure our community’s safety and ability to recover from the almost 6% infection rate in McKinley County.

Lujan Grisham has responded quickly to the spread of coronavirus in Gallup. Former Mayor Jackie McKinney and I believed asking the governor to invoke the Riot Act and limit access to Gallup was the right thing to do, not for just the residents of Gallup, but to reduce transmission of the virus in the at-risk reservation communities surrounding Gallup. The governor responded quickly, cooperated with city officials and management and was available throughout, not only the lockdown – which lasted from May 1-10 – but before and after to discuss mitigation measures with the city.

Her initiation of procedure, dedication to the residents of Gallup and McKinley County, availability to listen to our needs and immediate follow-through were key in substantially reducing the spread of COVID-19 throughout our area of the state.

She made the important decision to deploy the New Mexico National Guard to help our citizens. Gallup was singled out for a step-down hospital, built at Miyamura High School, by the Army Corps of Engineers. The National Guard worked closely with the local emergency response agencies to collaborate with essential businesses to help monitor and enforce the public health orders aimed at reducing the infection rate. They ensured occupancy rates were met, social distancing was enforced and masks were worn. These key mitigation efforts are what helped Gallup reach its substantially lower infection rate in the weeks that followed.

One of our priorities is to ensure the health and welfare of individuals in our community who suffer from alcohol and substance abuse, and the governor made it her priority to work together on the policies and procedures related to COVID-19 cases in our vulnerable population.

The Department of Health worked with us to prevent continued health risks. We appreciate its willingness to issue a public health order for isolation/quarantine in the instance that one is necessary in our homeless population. Officials have been at the table for every discussion on how to transition our detox facility from only COVID-positive to a split facility in order to better serve the entire population that needs treatment for alcohol and substance-abuse issues.

The governor has continually made one thing clear: decisions are made based on facts, and solutions are data-driven. These decisions and solutions are taking into account up-to-date recommendations from national science laboratories and the CDC. We appreciate that our governor relies on science at a heightened time in American politics. For Gallup, we want the science to lead the way so that we can continue to reduce the spread and work together toward a future in which business recovery and growth can begin.

Gallup has suffered much. We are a small community, surrounded by the Navajo Nation, which has been tremendously hard hit by the pandemic. We don’t know what our business recovery will look like, but we do know that the governor is advocating for federal resources to be directed to New Mexico. Our state is her priority, and our small community can only continue to get stronger in its fight against the pandemic and the terrible economic downturn.

We know the governor is doing her best for Gallup, and we believe her choices have been a model of collaboration. When government entities work together, it means we can do great things.

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