NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The year 2020 has been a year of big headlines in our state. From the pandemic response to social justice reform efforts.
2020 in New Mexico began with the state’s legislature signing off on a $7.6 billion budget, one of the largest in New Mexico’s history. Lawmakers also narrowly passed a controversial ‘red flag’ gun control bill into law. “This is a tool, this is one tool in the toolbox for law enforcement officers,” said Rep. Joy Garratt (D- Albuquerque) in February.
The law could take away guns from a person who might pose a threat to themselves or others. “The counties that I represent feel strongly that this is a violation of so many different amendments,” said Rep. Gail Armstrong (R- Magdalena) in February.
During this time, news of a contagious virus overseas started to take over international headlines and on March 11, the first cases of the coronavirus were reported in New Mexico. “The large announcement for today is I am declaring a public health emergency,” said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D- New Mexico) in March.
Schools were shut down within weeks and kids and their families had to quickly adjust to online learning. Businesses were impacted, unemployment numbers skyrocketed. People raced to the stores, toilet paper flew off the shelves. “It felt like the apocalypse,” one shopper told KRQE News 13.
Masks became a required accessory and words like ‘isolation’, ‘quarantine’, and ‘social distancing’ became regular terms. Local healthcare workers became some of New Mexico’s biggest heroes in the fight against the global pandemic. “Good afternoon New Mexico, it’s Governor Lujan Grisham,” said the Governor during one of the first live-streamed COVID-19 updates in April.
New Mexicans tuned in regularly for the governor’s coronavirus updates to get the latest news about the virus and the statistics from the state’s top doctor, Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase. As the months went by, cases continued to rise and so did the number of deaths.
In the summer, thousands took to the streets to fight against racial injustices after a Minneapolis man, George Floyd, died while in police custody.
Also taking place over the summer, local civil rights advocates turned their attention to statues and building names that paid tribute to conquistadors or people who had a history of violence against Native Americans. The protests against the Juan de Oñate statue in Old Town and the obelisk in Santa Fe gained national attention.
In October, New Mexicans had to miss out on one of our most beloved events: Balloon Fiesta. It was canceled because of health concerns and crowds.
Meanwhile, elections this year looked a lot different. New Mexico saw record-high turnout with more than 915,000 New Mexicans casting ballots or close to 70% of registered voters. Many voted absentee this year because of the pandemic.
As the state finishes out the year, the first doses of the long-awaited COVID-19 vaccine rolled out in our state. Healthcare workers were among the first to get it. “You got it,” one healthcare worker told another after administering the vaccine shot.
The Secretary-Designate of the New Mexico Department of Health Dr. Tracie Collins said that so far, New Mexico has received almost 50,000 doses of the vaccine and already administered more than 80 percent of that. She revealed that after healthcare workers, nursing homes, and first responders are vaccinated, they’ll next shift the focus to the elderly and people with serious health issues.
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