Balanced pandemic response ensures long-term recovery

Jun 15, 2020 2:47 PM

Ryan Flynn, Santa Fe New Mexican | June 10, 2020

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Over the past several weeks and months, we have all been working to adjust to new realities presented by the coronavirus pandemic, including the associated social distancing, containment, and mitigation efforts. While these measures have been uncomfortable and difficult, we have recognized the value to our families, communities, and colleagues in limiting the spread of this devastating illness.

But even as New Mexico stayed home, our state stood up. Citizens, communities, businesses, nonprofit organizations and many others, sprang into action to aid our most vulnerable citizens, to supply and manufacture critical personal protective equipment, and to support our frontline workers and essential personnel.

Partnering with New Mexico’s Coalition of Community Foundations, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham led an effort to quickly mobilize and coordinate the All Together New Mexico Fund to help address immediate and long-term needs in support of pandemic recovery efforts across our state. The New Mexico Oil and Gas Association’s community fund, the Brighter Future Fund, followed their lead in targeting resources toward fighting hunger and ensuring food security for vulnerable populations.

New Mexicans’ strength and resilience in response to these troubling times should be commended — not the least of which includes our medical professionals, first responders and other essential personnel who have risen and performed remarkably at a time when we needed them most.

Lujan Grisham’s early actions and balanced strategy for moving New Mexico through this pandemic have paid off. As we enter the summer, New Mexico is in a strong position to build on the progress made, putting more people back to work and reopening our economy in the safest way possible. This strategy for a balanced, careful reopening has not only kept more New Mexicans safe, it also gives us the best chance to begin a sustainable path to recovery.

As the foundation of our economy, New Mexico’s oil and gas industry will play a key role in the recovery. Our industry, and the thousands of New Mexicans employed in it, want nothing more than to get back to work powering communities and businesses. However, as we cautiously begin to reopen our economy, we must remain vigilant in our efforts to prevent a rebound of the coronavirus.

The health crisis has had an enormous impact on domestic and global demand for energy. As the world stood still, energy markets around the world experienced an abundance of energy amid a sharp drop in demand. As the world begins the process of reopening, demand for our products will increase and, in some instances, already has. I have no doubt this recovery will again place New Mexico at the center of energy production and move our economy forward, but we recover best when we recover once.

Like the governor, I believe a safer New Mexico is a stronger New Mexico. Just as New Mexico rallied to help and to heal at the height of the pandemic, our economic recovery also depends on our state rallying to support local businesses, keeping at-risk friends and family safe, and reducing the chances of a pandemic relapse. A dramatic growth in illnesses and a return to strict social-distancing measures only places the health of our long-term economy at risk. This is why we must continue prioritizing the health and safety of our community and citizens.

We will rebound and we will recover. Working together — to keep each other safe and support one another — we have put New Mexico on the right path to recovery. As we move ahead, let’s double down on this progress, lift our local businesses, and continue embracing safe practices that have put New Mexico ahead of the pack.

Ryan Flynn is the executive director of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association.