Diary of a Congresswoman

Teresa Leger Fernandez:
What we’re doing right now is really trying to make the case and continue to support the American Rescue Plan. I know we’ve talked a lot about that, but it’s just that it is so key and everybody’s minds like, you know, I got on the phone today with Aztec’s mayor and that’s what they wanted to talk about. And I’m going tomorrow to go to Dixon and Embudo where they’re doing a great job with vaccinations and like that’s some of the money that we are going to be providing because these communities–what Aztec told me, what so many of these places told me is they have used their resources, which are so depleted, to do what is needed for the vaccination period. They have therefore then not have enough money for things they’re normally supposed to be paying for. So the fact that there is this money that’s going to be coming down, that’s going to be able to be used for vaccination, that’s going to be able to be used to cover the cost that they’ve already put into responding to the COVID, is so key. And what struck me about today, meeting with the mayor of Aztec, is it doesn’t matter if it’s in a town of 8,000 in the Northwest region of the state, or if it’s in small villages, this virus and its impact is felt everywhere. And the places that are closest to it are those local governments because it’s those local governments are the ones where the people are coming and in essence, knocking at the door. They know the family members who can’t pay their electric bills or their water bills. And they can’t turn them off. They can’t do that. But they don’t have the money to continue to pay their employees. They don’t have the money to keep doing the stuff that they are supposed to do as local governments.
And that is the difference between what the Democrats have tried to do with this bill and what the Republicans want to do, of saying let’s not ever pay attention to the local governments. Like we get that you can’t ignore them, that you have to pay attention to them, because that is where it’s at, those local governments who know–they know the families, right? It’s not just that this is their job in New Mexico. They know the families. And that’s something that I think that has struck me today in those conversations with Aztec and getting ready to go to this vaccination site, and talking to some of those, for some reason, I ended up talking to a lot of first responders today. I mean, I went to go get my COVID test and the nurse practitioners were, we know who you are and thank you. And quick, I want to be putting more needles in people’s arms.
I mean, people who you are interacting with, they’re bringing it up to you, separately. Somebody who works with my son, skiing says, well, I’m talking to you cause I work with your son, but let me tell you, this is what we need. It’s like, everybody is bringing it up. And we need to respond to, and that’s what we’re doing. So that’s kind of where my head space is now because I’m getting ready for tomorrow. And we’ve done the bill and we’re waiting for it to come back from the Senate. And here we are in this moment of pause, this moment of waiting. And it is so urgent, still, like the urgency of it has to not let up at all.
Mary-Charlotte Domandi
And meanwhile, the Republicans insisted on having the 600 and plus page bill read aloud in order to delay. And that delayed seems to be not a very good idea
Right. It’s a political ploy, but it’s a political ploy that is done at the cost of people’s lives. If you think about the number of people who die every day from COVID, the number of people who are admitted to the hospital every day from COVID, and that you have chosen to sacrifice that Joe, that Susie, that grandfather in order to make a political ploy, if you think about it in those terms, then the disgust with what they have done just becomes more exponential. So then you have to actually step back from that because you can’t live in that space of anger and discuss what they’re doing. You have to pull back from it so that you can continue to focus on what we needed to get done.
One of the things that a friend just told me was, I mean, there’s a lot of new Mexicans who were getting in their car and driving to Texas because Texas has vaccines. And one person mentioned that the reason there are vaccines, that they’ll give you, whatever your age no questions asked, is because a lot of Texans don’t want the vaccines. Whereas in New Mexico, the demand is so high, but they don’t believe in them. Or they don’t think that there is COVID or they don’t want to wear their masks. And these vaccines are spoiling unless they give them to people from out of state.
Yeah. And I loved the New Mexico Department of Health response when they were told that they said, if you can get a vaccine wherever you can get it, take it. Our response is, vaccines are going to save lives the same way masks save lives. Take it. And New Mexico is being very observant of getting the most at risk versus getting the ones that are in line of duty. Now we’re going to try to get teachers, maybe families. We’re following the protocol, but we are aware of the value of the vaccine because we have had a governor and local officials and everybody here say this is a serious disease. It impacts our lives. We’re going to try to keep people alive and not infected, even if that’s at the cost of economic consequences. So are aware. I mean, we are awake to the reality. And in Texas, when you deny things, you’re going to deny it all along.
And so yeah, our need to educate around vaccination is not as great as the need in Texas. We’re still giving Texas a lot of money in our bill. We’re giving every state, we’re not doing this, you know, you only get this money if you acknowledge it’s not a hoax or anything like that. Everybody gets it. But we also, in places that are resistant to the realities of COVID, we’re also making sure that the vaccines don’t depend on the state distributing them, but also go to like federally qualified health clinics so that they get it directly. And they don’t have to wait for the state dilly-dallying when they don’t care. Like some of these Republican governors who are putting their own people at risk, by not urging a good rollout of the vaccine.