As the state of New Mexico has grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic, a key point of emphasis in our response has been compiling and disseminating accurate, thorough and up-to-date data about this viral infection to New Mexicans.

Every day, my first questions — and the first questions of many New Mexicans — are: How many new positive cases? Where are they? Where might they have spread the infection? This information — and indeed all of the information about COVID-19 infections in our state — is essential to our decision-making processes as we move forward into gradual reopenings to ease economic pressure and, of course, to continue fighting this virus with effective, data-driven public health policy.

We have endeavored to provide as much information about this virus over the course of the pandemic as we can. Our COVID-19 data dashboard includes information about positive cases — where they have occurred by county and even by ZIP code — and about demographic information like race, ethnicity and age.

And we will continue to be as transparent as we can be given important legal restrictions about protected patient data and other considerations. To be clear, the state does not and will not provide specific patient information to anyone — not regular citizens, not local elected officials, not tribal leaders. This is law, and patient-specific information is not to be shared.

The New York Times editorial board recently penned a piece criticizing governments — including the federal administration — for stonewalling and slow-walking requests for data and other public records amid the pandemic. Some governments have changed their record request policies or suspended them in light of the public health crisis.

Our state government has not changed its policy in this regard and will not; although there are certainly case-by-case considerations when requests for information are broad and burdensome, and there is an enormous workload for all state government workers given the pandemic, and there is the imperative to protect patient-specific information, we will continue to meet the public’s expectations for providing data.

One important consideration is data about sovereign nations. The state of New Mexico under my administration has worked very hard to reestablish sacred government-to-government relationships with the tribes and pueblos of New Mexico. Tribal nations have been disproportionately affected by this heinous virus; my administration has been on the front foot, communicating regularly with tribal leaders about their needs and dispatching state assistance, including the New Mexico National Guard, to deliver needed supplies and provide medical support.

Our esteemed tribal partners require not only our compassion and whatever assistance can be provided in this hour of need; under the State-Tribal Collaboration Act, the state is obligated to collaborate with tribal nations on the development and carrying out of policy and programs of state agencies.

That is true now even amid this pandemic, and although the state is obligated to provide and will continue to provide public information to the public when requested under the Inspection of Public Records Act, we will coordinate with tribal leaders whenever and however we can to ensure that sovereign and individual patient data is protected and the public is armed with important public information in equal measure.

Michelle Lujan Grisham is the governor of New Mexico.

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(9) comments

Khal Spencer

With all due respect to those who are struggling with this issue in Governor Lujan Grisham's administration, and I know full well this is an impossible situation to put a state government into. This is too one-dimensional. We should be seeing all of the thinking, including that of the secretive Economic Recovery Committee/Council. We should be told what cost/benefit analyses are being done. What value is being put on minimizing cases vs. minimizing our chances for an economic recovery. Until that happens, we ain't being given the real story, which is more complicated than cases per day and wearing one's home made mask.

For example, is the Adminstration doing stuff like this:

https://www.nber.org/papers/w27102?mod=article_inline

A Multi-Risk SIR Model with Optimally Targeted Lockdown

Are economists weighing in? Civil Libertarians? Its more than about what the doctor ordered.

Dr. Michael Johnson

[beam]

George Welland

"Informing the public essential in the pandemic ???" ___________________________________________

What an odd imperative, or did the SFNM edit the governor's copy? A catchy "dashboard" graphic made for mass media that's neither really informative or helpful to the average citizen (or non-average as best I can discern). What does starting each day with a sick and death tally accomplish other than provide t.v. stations with a local version of the Andy of New York Show. Furthermore, the death rate, like the homicide rate in Albuquerque, after a while is NOT news; we get it COVID-19 kills; but can't the director of vital statistics perform that with a daily press release? Obviously the real issues of finances, spending, taxes and public services, along with the orders restricting movement and commerce, are what are of greatest interest to New Mexicans! The odds that the discussions that matter (the secret lobbying and election year pay-offs) will be public are laughable. Let's cut to the chase and get answers to the following questions: 1.) How much of the permanent fund will be tapped and who gets the money; 2.) How many state employees will be laid-off; 3.) How much will the state's PERA funds be raided; 4.) What marijuana industry players have the inside track to make a killing with legalizing recreational marijuana; & 5.) Why is the labor secretary allowed to NOT pay unemployment insurance (UI) benefits and still keep his job? This last question really asks how are folks (the wage slaves from which are drawn essential workers on the front lines of the pandemic) suppose to stay at home to limit the spread of COVID-19; pay their bills, so every one up the food chain can pay their bills; and otherwise not create a run on the food banks? So essentially it seems like business as usual, by keeping the public in the dark (from the UI office, to municipalities, to the state budget) and that black out reached pandemic levels years ago!

Dr. Michael Johnson

Thank you Mr. Welland, all very good questions that deserve answers and the trend with this administration is quite troubling for anyone who believes in open, transparent government and a democracy by, for and of the people. You mention many items, let me add to them. Why is it that the so-called "Economic Recovery Council" appointed and empowered solely by the Guv has been declared exempt from all open meetings act and records request laws? Who decided that and why? We cannot see even an agenda, and we are not even allowed to ask for one. And why has the Guv and her so-called "Health Department" never explained or held accountable for all their dire predictions used to justify all the complete and partial lockdowns of our entire state? I have been keeping track of all his predictions from the past 2 1/2 months. In early April they predicted we would be on their model's "Moderate to High Intervention" level, which would say we would have 3498 patients in the hospital at the peak, 2175 in ICU at the peak, 1629 on ventilators at the peak, and 3066 deaths this year. They also predicted the peak would be in late May, right now. Of course ALL of these predictions and forecasts were off by orders of magnitude. They hoarded PPE, stopped all non-life threatening hospitalizations (costing lives in the long run due to delayed critical diagnoses and treatments), closed clinics, dentists, optometrists, etc. and still have not backed off even with all these proven false and misleading model predictions. And they still have not adjusted how they count deaths. According to the NYT, NM has no excess deaths over normal average death stats, and as Colorado adjusted their way of classifying deaths, to only count those who died due to the disease, not just with the disease (heart attacks here count if they have COVID), NM keeps doing it in a false and misleading manner. This administration has much to be held accountable for in this botched handling of this crisis, I hope they will be held accountable by the people so horribly damaged by these actions.

Joseph Tafoya

There is more at play here than the Governor asking every morning “if there are any more positive cases”. Of course, there will be new positive cases. Logically, the more testing that is done the more positive cases will be found. The questions should be how many new deaths have occurred and how is this affecting our medical capability. This goes way beyond the concern for the individual citizen. This will be part of the democrat's playbook to defeat President Trump in November. New Mexico and many other blue state Governors are taking the lead from Democrat political operatives in Washington to delay opening their states. Many blue states, including New Mexico, have been very reckless with their budgets and are finding themselves millions, if not billions of dollars, in the red. They see this as a twofer. One they may get to balance their budgets with federal dollars. Many of those dollars will come from red states who have been responsible with their budgets and will get nothing. So not opening their states, holding out closer to November and driving themselves further into debt, is a positive thing if it hurts President Trump. Second anything negative that comes out of this crisis will be pinned on President Donald J. Trump. This has Pelosi and Schumer's fingerprints all over it and the Governor is following the party line.

Jim Klukkert

Joseph Tafoya~ You are so incorrect with your facts that no insightful analysis come ever come forward from your comment.

Most prominently, your claim that 'Many blue states, including NM, … may get to balance their budgets with federal dollars. Many of those dollars will come from red states who have been responsible with their budgets and will get nothing' goes against the decades long trend that Red States receive more money from the Feds than they send to the Feds; Blue States send more money to the Feds than they receive.

In these Pandemic times, Red States suffering little Covid-19 cases are receiving outsize Federal Relief (check the figures for Wyoming and Montana), while Blue States like New York and others, are receiving far less per capita or per Coronavirus case.

The mythes you seek to promulgate are lies, the only defense for the bungling so many issues by the Republican Party and their Serial-Sexual-Predator-In-Chief have going into November. We hardly need Pelosi or Schumer to come up with a darn thing.

You are but one of the many POLITICAL OPPORTUNISTS who are looking to manipulate Public Health and other issues for their own agenda.

Failure is your folio.

Lucy Greer

[thumbup]

Jim Klukkert

[cool]

George Welland

[thumbup]

Welcome to the discussion.

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