Socorro has faced unique challenges in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a college town, many of the concerns revolve around student life, but also to the young and aging populations in town.
Graduate students from New Mexico Tech raised the issue of sustainable employment and healthcare access. While the initial impacts of the COVID shutdown have hurt local businesses, it has also created a strain on students and younger working-age populations. Many students and young adults rely on businesses like restaurants and movie theaters, which have had to shut down to comply with restrictions. Underscoring the severity of these shutdowns is the Capital Bar, which has been around since the Civil War, but has now entered the longest shutdown in its history.
Beyond the jobs in town, student employees have experienced increased struggles with COVID. While students may be employed, the university payment structure makes it difficult for them to find insurance; tuition waivers for student employees are counted as income, which moves them out of the bracket to qualify for high-quality, lower-cost health insurance. Many students struggle to balance the costs of college with living expenses, and the increased cost of insurance adds to that struggle. COVID has shined a spotlight on the need for all of us to look after our health, and a lack of accessible insurance makes that more difficult.
Another challenge for residents of these communities is healthcare accessibility; many elderly community members rely on check-ins over the internet to lower their risk of infection, but since they may be unfamiliar with the technology, there’s a learning curve that has gone unaddressed. Older communities also face issues with mental health - socialization has become a risk factor, so programs where seniors read to children and grandkids have gone away.
In future meetings, we will be discussing and thinking about how we can build support networks for the community. If you’re interested in attending, keep an eye on this feed for meeting announcements, and send an email to Jay Wilson at
!Socorro & Truth or Consequences