Remembering COVID victims from New Mexico's deadliest month of the pandemic | KOB 4

Remembering COVID victims from New Mexico's deadliest month of the pandemic

Megan Abundis
Updated: December 01, 2020 10:26 PM
Created: December 01, 2020 09:41 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — November was a deadly month for COVID-19 in New Mexico. More than 563 New Mexicans lost their battle to COVID-19 this past month, which accounts for more than a third of the state’s total deaths. 

The deaths came from every age group and background, and include people like Rachel Sluis, who taught elementary school in Gallup. 

"Hi. I'm one of Ms. Lisa's past students, and this is why I loved her. She's always been there for me and I loved her so much she was one of the greatest teachers I could ever ask for,” said a six-year-old student from Gallup.

1,589 people have died in from coronavirus in New Mexico. The governor recently addressed the state Monday and told people to not be pessimistic, but be aware of what we’re up against. 

"I know that it is grim," the governor said. 

Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase said the daily number of lives lost could soon grow exponentially. 

"Looking at the middle case scenario of up to 50 deaths per day over the next four to six weeks,” Dr. Scrase said.

“This virus can be deadly for anyone,” the governor added.

Many New Mexicans are hurting over the lost of their loved ones. A few weeks ago, 1,000 butterflies were strewn across the Santa Fe Plaza in remembrance of COVID victims.

A northern New Mexico woman, Jan Pankey, said she was close to one of those victims. 

"Like all the other thousands of people who have died, she died alone in an ICU,” Pankey said, whose 87-year-old aunt died from COVID. 

The death of Pankey’s aunt motivated her to create bumper stickers that read, “Someone I Loved Died of COVID.” She hopes that the project can remind people that the death toll is not just a statistic. 

On the Navajo Nation, the family of Ms. Western Navajo, Valentina Blackhorse, also felt the pain of losing a loved one to COVID. 

"They are waiting for a helicopter to fly her out and then 20 minutes later she got the call that she passed away," said Valentina’s family. 

The youngest victim from the past month was a 12-year-old boy named Aeden Selph, whose father is an essential worker. 

"He brought it home unknowingly and now we've lost my little brother,” said Evelyn Wolf, Aeden's sister. 

"I was the one in the room with him when he passed. He grabbed onto my finger and within ten minutes, if that, he was gone and I could feel his hand release,” she added. 

Gov. Lujan Grisham pleaded with New Mexicans to help turn things around. 

"One death is unacceptable, 50 deaths a day, and we are headed already, right? Remember when I said we are too late to fix November? Dr. Scrase has alerted us we are too late for the next couple of weeks, but we are not too late for all of December, January, February, March—we can win over the virus in general,” the governor said.

Health experts are asking people to rethink their holiday plans, and continue wearing a mask. 

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