New Mexico begins tribal outreach campaign amid coronavirus

June 15, 2020 GMT

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico health officials have teamed with Native American cartoonist Ricardo Caté to increase awareness about the coronavirus pandemic as part of a new campaign.

One of the most prominent Native American cartoonists working today, Caté, who is from Santo Domingo Pueblo, is known for using humor to bring attention to serious topics affecting tribal communities. His cartoon, “Without Reservations,” is published daily in the Santa Fe New Mexican and The Taos News.

The Behavioral Health Services Division of the state Human Services Department and the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department partnered to create the campaign. Officials say the goal is to use culturally relevant messaging on how tribal members can take precautions to protect their communities, families and elders.


“Laughter has always been a part of being Indian, and Native humor is culturally unique and at the heart of our resilience and survivability,” Caté said in a statement.

Public service announcements will air on Native American radio stations and banners will be put up at water and food pick-up stations and testing areas. Fliers also will be distributed at each pueblo, tribe or nation in New Mexico, and posts will be made on social media.

The latest statewide data shows Native Americans account for more than 54% of all positive cases. State health officials say tribal communities are particularly vulnerable because they have higher rates of diabetes, asthma, cancer and hypertension.

New Mexico has 9,845 confirmed cases, and the death toll stands at 440. The 132 additional COVID-19 cases reported Monday by health officials include more than two dozen cases among state inmates at a prison in Otero County.

For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the new coronavirus can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. For most, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough.

In other developments:

— State economic development officials say more companies are in the process of getting no-interest assistance through a state loan program established to help businesses during the pandemic. Among them is Descartes Labs, which is seeking an $800,000 loan. The business is using its technology to track movement in the new age of COVID-19. A Ruidoso winery and an Albuquerque business that sells tea and essential oils also are in line for loans.