A cookie-cutter solution won’t work for rural New Mexico.
Those who argue that if we can go to Walmart we should be able to go to a mom and pop store have a point.
But anyone who has stepped foot in a Walmart recently will surely notice that those people who are taking precautions like a face mask are far outnumbered by those who are not—including the staff that come into contact with everybody.
We obviously can’t shut down businesses forever, and the rules on what is considered “essential” seem arbitrary. That leaves lots of small business owners feeling left out in the cold, and lots of them could go out of business. This matters.
Our task is to look forward and figure out how we reintegrate and reopen—but our task is also to figure out how to do this safely. The level of “let the weak die” rhetoric is disturbing. What kind of society do we want to live in?
The lower concentration, and lower numbers, of people in rural New Mexico means simply that there is less chance to come into contact with the virus. What works in New York City or even Albuquerque is not appropriate here.
The problem is that a large dose of common sense is required—while the rhetoric of fear, conspiracy theories, and politics are instead ruling the day.
Those who are at-risk need to limit contact and practice careful physical distancing.
Those who are younger, stronger and healthier need to take precautions to protect the more vulnerable.
We are neighbors, and a community is stronger together. In a situation like this one, there is no us and them, only us and us. How can you help a friend, a relative, or a business today? Reach out to each other. Be caring, compassionate, and kind, whether you are staying home or going to work.
We’ve got this.
Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.