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'She's killing people.' Protesters criticize governor's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — A group of protesters lined the sidewalk in front of Animas Valley Mall on Nov. 21 to oppose the shelter-in-place public health order that went into effect on Nov. 16.

These protesters say the public health orders that are meant to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and save lives are unduly restricting freedom and have led to increased rates of suicide and domestic violence.

The protesters carried American flags, Gadsden flags and Trump flags. Many of them held signs criticizing Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“She’s killing people,” said Lynda Sanders, highlighting the increase in suicides and domestic violence.

And Sanders said the restrictions are ruining small businesses.

“She just needs to let people decide what is safe and what is not,” she said.

Bryan and Lynda Sanders protest the restrictions that the state has imposed to reduce the spread of COVID-19, Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, in Farmington.

Lujan Grisham has said that the measures the state have enacted are an effort to save lives as the virus spreads when people mingle with each other. The current restrictions include a shelter-in-place order as well as prohibitions on large gatherings of more than five people and limitations on business operations. Non-essential businesses are closed through Nov. 30.

Read more:Where to get coronavirus testing in San Juan County

Cindy Casaus said a friend of hers had an 11-year-old nephew die by suicide this year, which she attributed to the isolation resulting from measures taken to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

“We already had it and we survived,” said Casaus’ husband, Terry Casaus.

They are among the more than 77,000 New Mexicans who have tested positive for COVID-19 this year.

San Juan County residents protest the public health orders intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, in Farmington.

“It’s nothing that should shut down businesses and kill kids,” Cindy Casaus said, adding that children are dying by suicide and that social interaction is extremely important for children.

More:San Juan County, Navajo COVID: What you should know now

While Terry Casaus developed a fever, Cindy Casaus did not. She said she had a bad cough and her chest hurt.

“I felt like I’d walked up a mountain. I was just tired,” she said.

In addition, she said she lost her sense of taste and smell.

A woman holds a Trump flag, Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, while protesting public health orders.

The New Mexico Department of Health instructs people to isolate after testing positive for COVID-19 for at least 10 days and people who have symptoms should remain in quarantine for at least 24 hours after their fever breaks. People who have contracted COVID-19 should not leave quarantine until their symptoms are improving. More information can be found at cv.nmhealth.org.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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