This week I am dedicating my words to the 3,955 New Mexicans whom we have lost to COVID-19. We stand together, in solidarity, to do whatever is necessary to heal our communities and avoid any additional deaths. If we continue to follow the COVID Safety Protocols, you will not have died in vain. In your memory, we remain hopeful!

We've been through so much lately! When COVID-19 came into our world it came in with a vengeance. It's safe to say that we were, pretty much, blind-sided with the global pandemic, the public health order and the lasting effects it has had on each of us. Although we have had other health emergencies in the last 20 years in our country, none have been as devastating as COVID-19 has been.

I'm hopeful that we will emerge from this crisis soon. Our community needs to put COVID-19 in our rearview mirrors as soon as possible. The recovery of our economy cannot fully begin until we are out of the danger zone. As a member of this community, a family person and as a businessperson I need to get beyond the pandemic as soon as possible.

I get thrilled beyond measure when I see statistics that show our cure rates rising and I love to see when our infection rates are declining. Both of these statistics tell me that you are doing your part to get us on track. People are getting tested, and they are getting vaccinated as soon as they are eligible. Our county has been safely in the yellow for a few weeks now and I'm hopeful that we will be green this week, which means that we will be turquoise in a month. Yes, I am hopeful because hope springs eternal, but hope is not a strategy for getting through this pandemic!

I have shared the words of Greek Philosopher Epictetus who said, "It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters." COVID has been happening "to" us since the end of 2019 and, when something like this happens, the only thing in your power is your attitude toward it; you can either accept it or resent it. It is in the acceptance of COVID where our strategies lay. COVID is a deadly virus and we must be vigilant in our response to it.

Since the beginning of the pandemic the Grant County Coronavirus Task Force has been meeting to discuss the COVID response by the county and our community leaders and our healthcare community. The amount of expertise that comes together weekly, or multiple times per week, is astounding.

This group discusses everything from number of cases and vaccination rates to community outreach They discuss the different sectors of our community and how COVID is affecting them. The focus each week is on Health Care and Public Health, Education, Social Services and Safety Net, Economic and Workforce Recovery, Prevention and Outreach and Public Safety.

The Southwest Council of Governments is working diligently over their multi-county footprint to bring funding and financial recovery information to you, and they do a great job coordinating efforts to keep you as informed as possible. They have their fingers on the pulse of what is available to you and ways that you can qualify for their programs. The Small Business Administration, Economic Development Department, Department of Tourism and NM Department of Workforce Solutions are only a few of the organizations working to provide resources for you and everyone else in need. Reach out to me at the chamber for a complete list of resources available to you.

Finally, your local businesses and non-profits have been working tirelessly over the previous 12 months to create a safe environment for you to eat, play, shop or meet when we are finally back open for business. They have been revamping their businesses to create safe spaces and getting NM COVID Safe Certifications to show you they are ready for you to come visit when the veil is lifted completely. Make sure you thank them for all of their hard work when you see them.

I'm excited for the day that we jump into the turquoise level. This color classification truly means that you have done so much for your neighbors and you are doing what it takes to reopen our county. Remember to thank local businesses by returning to shop or eat with them as soon as possible. If you know a healthcare worker who has been working behind the scenes to keep everyone healthy, drop them a quick line to thank them for their efforts. Finally, "Thank You," in advance, for all of your hard work. Together we are getting through this.

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