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Photo: Toya Sarno Jordan | Copyright: 2018 Getty Images
Photo: Toya Sarno Jordan | Copyright: 2018 Getty Images

New Mexico Gov. Lujan Grisham’s COVID-19 response marks her as Vice President candidate

The former U.S. Health Secretary has proven to be a true leader for her state through nationwide turmoil.

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When New Mexico had just four reported cases of coronavirus, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM) was already on top of it. She moved quickly to declare a state of emergency on March 11, and had free tests available in hospitals two days later.

New Mexico is one of the nation’s poorest states, and has fewer hospital beds per capita than nearly every other in the country, reported The New York Times. For months, every New Mexican has had the ability to get tested for free, with testing sites open every day across the state. 

Gov. Lujan Grisham’s early push for statewide testing is seen in the numbers. New Mexico is third in the nation for coronavirus testing per-capita, behind Rhode Island and New York.

With the odds against the state, Lujan Grisham’s response, rooted in science and fast-action, helped flatten the curve in mid April, with the state on track to avoid a shortage of hospital beds.

“We’re going to demand in New Mexico that science guide every decision we make,” Lujan Grisham said in a press conference in May.

However now the governor faces controversy, as the state is seeing a rise in cases soon after decisions to reopen the state.

Photo: The New York Times via Mapbox

New Mexico currently sits at 410 deaths, with over 9,000 positive tests. After managing to stop the spread in May, June 5 saw the largest-ever spike in cases in the state. The latest data from the Times reports northwest New Mexico is the hardest-hit region, overlapping with the Navajo Nation.

The Navajo Nation carries the largest per-capita infection rate of coronavirus in the United States.

“I have no control over a sovereign nation,” Lujan Grisham told Rolling Stone before the sudden spike.

“I don’t think that I should. I had a call with every tribal leader in the state in early March when we were making all of these decisions. I got on the phone and said, ‘You have to shut down. You have to close the casinos. You have to close your hotels,’” she said.

The next Vice President?

Ever since Democratic nominee Joe Biden announced his running-mate would be a woman, speculations over potential candidates have swirled.  

If she were selected, Lujan Grisham would be the first woman and the first Latinx Vice President in U.S. history. 

According to Politico, a source says Biden has begun vetting her for vice president, but there are other women in the running as well.

“I’m going to be doing whatever I need to be doing as the first female Democratic Hispanic governor in the country, to support a Biden presidency,” Lujan Grisham told the New Mexico Political Report. 

Lujan Grisham previously served in the U.S. House and as the chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Her consideration presents a critical opportunity to increase Latino turnout in swing states for the 2020 presidential election.

In 2018, Lujan Grisham became the first female Democratic governor of New Mexico and the first Democratic Latina governor nationwide. She demonstrates how Latinos are gaining momentum in the highest levels of leadership. 

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