Restrictions on restaurants, nonessential businesses, mass gatherings and more will continue in New Mexico at least until April 30 as the state continues to wage battle against an infectious microscopic particle.
But there's plenty of important actions to take while you stay home and stay healthy.
First, get counted. Second, mail in your primary ballot. Third, make a mask. Forth, clap for health care workers and others on the front lines of the pandemic.
Getting counted in the U.S. census is the first action to take. The U.S. census, held once a decade, is available online. You can also fill it out by calling in or filling out a census form mailed to your house.
Take a few minutes to fill it out. It is free. It isn't hard. And every person counted in New Mexico helps the state qualify for more federal tax dollars to fund roads, schools, health care and the social safety net that helps in hard times like these. Federal money is really taxpayer money, meaning your money. So, when you get counted, you help bring back some of your hard-earned tax dollars to help your community.
As of Monday (April 7), New Mexico as a whole was in 49th place for the number of people who have responded to the census. Only 10 percent of Taos County had responded as of early this week.
Federal money is doled out to communities in part based on who lives there. That means an accurate count is essential. Every adult, child and infant in a house should be counted.
To fill out the census online or find out more, go to: 2020census.gov.
For those who don't have a laptop, smart phone or internet service, you can call or mail in your responses. You should have received an invite by mail in March with an identification number.
The second action you can take while staying home and staying healthy is to request an absentee ballot now from your county clerk and mail it in ahead of the scheduled June 2 primary election.
No one knows for certain how long this coronavirus pandemic will last in New Mexico. The secretary of state and county clerks, including Taos, are urging voters to vote by mail and clerks have filed a petition with the state Supreme Court to allow a mail-in only primary. The Supreme Court may deny the petition, but why risk standing in line to cast your ballot when you can simply request one by mail?
In Taos County, go to taoscounty.org/175/Bureau-of-Elections or call (575) 737-6400 to request one an absentee ballot, find voter information or see precincts.
And spend some of your self-isolation time studying the candidates and their platforms in the county, state and Congressional races. We'll be profiling the candidates over the next couple of weeks in the Taos News.
For a third action, make a mask.
Masks are essential to help health professionals and first responders stay healthy on the front lines of fighting this pandemic. So too, masks are vital to protecting grocery store clerks, gas station attendants, janitors, school staff who are providing lunches, home health aides and many others.
Health officials are urging all people to wear masks when they are in public to prevent the spread of the infectious coronavirus. Lots of groups are running low on masks - schools, home health companies, doctors offices. On pages B1, B3 and C1, you'll find the patterns and instructions for making one type of mask. Make some for a group in need. Make some for yourself. It can be a fun pastime while you catch up on your favorite Netflix series during this isolating time.
Finally, join Taoseños across the valley and people around the world each evening at 8 p.m. in clapping outside your home or apartment for health care workers and first responders who are on the front lines of battling this pandemic, putting themselves at risk every day.
Above all, right now remember that it is up to each person to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Stay home, stay safe, save lives.
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