ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) –KRQE Media Group hosted a Special Virtual Town Hall on COVID-19 featuring both of New Mexico’s U.S. Senators Wednesday, May 13. U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D) and U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D) addressed the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic. The senators also answered questions from viewers that were submitted over the weekend.
In Wednesday’s town hall, both senators were not shy about saying they’re disappointed in the Trump Administration and it’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. The senators also said they plan to keep putting pressure on the federal government to make sure New Mexicans get what they need to survive during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Early on, the White House, in my view, was too focused on trying to care of some really large businesses, corporations that employed literally thousands of people and not enough assistance went to the average family and small businesses,” says Senator Martin Heinrich.
Right now they say they’re fighting to get New Mexicans the financial help they need faster. “I do think we are going approve additional economic packages and my goal is make sure that those packages are better focused on the needs of New Mexicans,” Heinrich says.
Both say ramping up testing and contact tracing efforts is essential. “We need an army of contact tracers out there. Martin and I have worked on a bill it’s a national bill that engages the young people and the other people in America that want to get into a care core or get into helping out with health care needs,” says Sen.Tom Udall.
Both senators praised Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s pandemic response and understand not rushing to reopen. “Is that balance where we don’t overwhelm our hospitals and we prioritize the economy we prioritize jobs but don’t allow a second wave to build,” Heinrich says.
Moving forward, Senator Heinrich says there is an opportunity to re-establish and re-prioritize economic systems.”What kind of economic system and society we want to rebuild, not just accept everything that was status quo from three and a half months ago but going forward, for example, what kind of economy do we think we want and deserve and build the support systems and policies and governance to accomplish that,” Heinrich says.
Senator Udall also mentioned that parents and students can expect the next school year to look different in order to accommodate social distancing guidelines. He says for parents worrying about child care the are asking assistance at the federal level.
In the town hall, both senators said they will keep pressing to make the process to get federal funds easier and said if businesses aren’t getting the funding they need to call their offices.
Due to restrictions on large gatherings, both senators remotely joined the broadcast and livestream.
The 30-minute virtual Town Hall was hosted by KRQE-TV News 13 anchors Dean Staley and Jessica Garate who provided a recap of the latest developments in the coronavirus pandemic and plans for reopening the state’s economy.