Home News COVID-19 Situation Torres Small calls for creation of task force

Torres Small calls for creation of task force

Daily Record File Photo U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, D-NM, speaks to attendees at the Democratic Party of Chaves County’s Pre-Primary Convention Jan. 25 at the Fraternal Order of Eagles in Roswell. Torres Small, who represents New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District, which includes Chaves County, said in a press release Monday she was one of more than a dozen members of Congress to sign a letter to the Secretary of Agriculture calling for the formation of a “Rural COVID-19 Task Force.”

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U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, D-NM, along with a bipartisan group of lawmakers from both houses of Congress are urging the Trump Administration to create a task force to help rural communities with the challenges they face as a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Torres Small, a member of the House Agriculture Committee who represents New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District, announced in a press release Monday that she along with seven senators and 19 members of the U.S. House of Representatives signed a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue calling for the formation of a “Rural COVID-19 Task Force.”

Another member of New Mexico’s congressional delegation, U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, a Democrat representing New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District, also signed the letter.

“Rural hospitals fight tooth and nail to keep their doors open to serve patients, dairy farmers are running out of money to feed their cows, and kids are trying to homeschool with no internet access. Today, I join my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to demand federal accountability to our rural communities and call on USDA to establish a Rural COVID-19 Task Force,” Torres Small said.

The task force, according to a copy of the letter, would be comprised of representatives with expertise in a variety of rural sectors including mental health, health care, the private sector and agriculture.

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Members would be charged with identifying challenges, formulating strategies and policy recommendations, assembling a guide of federal programs and resources, consulting with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Congressional committees and providing oversight of federal funds, according to the letter.

“The only way to beat this pandemic is to fight this virus together and that means making sure that no person or community is left behind and that they all have the resources, support and access they need to recover and respond to this crisis,” the letter states.

Though the pandemic has impacted all communities, the letter states, its slow spread to rural areas has caused people misjudge the severity of the virus and the ability of rural America to deal with it.

People in rural communities are likely to be older, lack health insurance, have pre-existing health conditions, while local hospitals in these communities have fewer resources to meet the increased demand that a pandemic can cause.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext, 301, or breakingnews@rdrnews.com.


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