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Ginger Nelson: Amarillo, Texas, mayor fights a rare form of cancer and Covid-19 in his city



“No one expected me to be on a cancer journey, and I was in my 40s, so I wasn’t in the normal age range of high-risk Covid, but it did give me a very affectionate perspective on someone,” Nelson told CNN in a virtual interview.

“Because they are critical and they cannot close, they continue to work, and they work side by side to do their jobs. But so does the nature of any manufacturing, any large employer where you have thousands employees who show precisely the shift times, they walk down the aisles, they change in the same locker rooms, they eat at their breaks or at lunch time, they eat in the same cafeteria, “he said. Nelson.

He added, “Even in the personal conversations I had with employees working in plants, they also felt the tension, and I didn̵

7;t know there was a perfect way to balance it, but just acknowledge exist and to recognize that personal health should be a top priority, and after that, we work on keeping plants open. “

Even though Amarillo receives 3,500 coronavirus tests a day due to ingestion, Nelson says they still need to.

“I don’t think any mayor feels they have the tests they need, because ideally I can test all of my citizens every week, and we can strategize based on test results that can work safely, who can go to school safely. So we definitely need a lot of test results. That said, based on test scores that I know are available on a national basis, I feel like our state government and the federal government has been very responsive to the outbreak here in Amarillo, “Nelson said. “We were a hotspot. We were hit, and we needed the resources, and they still came to us.”

Cruel change is like ‘death to life as we know it’

Nelson was extremely excited by the way the violent, unexpected changes that came with Covid-19 were affecting the mental health of his residents.

While families across the country are suffering from the loss of loved ones, he believes people who are fortunate enough to avoid being afflicted in another way – for society and life before the pandemic.

“We have had death in life as we know it, and now we have to think and be resilient. We must recognize the impact emotional and mental health we have,” he said.

He launched an awareness campaign in Amarillo, partnering with a local television station to try to make people who do not seek emotional help gain knowledge of the local resources available to them.

“The anxieties that weave all those things into are not just separated into a spreadsheet or a diagram you can make – it’s a chief decision you can say, ‘This is the right thing,'” he added.

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Covid-19-related anxiety was hardly a phenomenon, and Nelson had regular virtual sessions with children.

Emerson, a kindergartner, asked what the children could do to protect themselves.

“It’s OK to be scared and it’s okay to ask about what you need to do to protect yourself, but I want to make sure you have a lot of people working to keep our city safe. Even if you get sick, it’ll be OK. . Many doctors in our city are studying it and they have learned a lot, “Nelson replied to Emerson in a virtual chat.

Nelson had the luxury of running for mayor of Amarillo as either a Republican or a Democrat – the city tradition – that freed him to step back from politics and speak about the dangers he sees coming to Washington.

“We will never carry our sadness into politics, but we are here today. It makes for a very difficult environment to have conversations about how people feel,” he warned.

“I want our leaders to lead us as people, not as politicians. I want them to lead us as if they are leading families who are worried about mortgage payments and keep the doors open.” their businesses and doing their payroll for their small business I don’t want them to lead the party’s agendas or lines, “he argued, with an understanding in his voice that what he is now asking for is quite a pipe dream.

Members of the 136th Medical Group, Texas Air National Guard tried for COVID-19 Tuesday at Memorial Park Pool. Guard members set up four test sites in El Paso.

Businesses are still opening, despite the Covid-19 outbreak

Texas is one of the most aggressive states in the country when it comes to economic and social reopening as a whole, Nelson said he is fine, despite his Texas panhandle city becoming a Covid-19 hotspot.

“Texas is a big state and there is a lot of geography to make decisions about our special situation because of these meat packing plants. I think it’s a bad decision to return the entire state just because in our county, “he said.

Amarillo is reopening its businesses – even today.

“Well, it’s not a lightweight burden,” Nelson said of the move to reopen.

“I think as a leader, it has never been so simple for me. It’s a multifaceted issue. Just as I ask people to stay home, I know I’m asking businesses to close their doors, and that means they will not be able to make mortgage payments. This means that they may be, if they are unsure of food, they will worry about eating all the food they have in their pantry and will not be able to go to the grocery store store and buy more food. There are many facets to it. It’s not just, ‘Should we stay away from catching the virus?’ “he said.

Gov. Greg Abbott this week said a number of counties, including two covering Amarillo, would delay Phase Two of the reopening process. Despite the city loosening some restrictions, Nelson said some local businesses are choosing to remain closed.

“We value having the right to make those choices as individuals. That’s a very American thing. I think in my city, the Amarilloans have done a responsible job of that. Many businesses have watching our numbers and saying, ‘We’re not ready to open’ even though statewide they have the ability to open, they choose not to. I think many customers do the same, “Nelson said.

#ALLinAmarillo

Nelson started an aggressive social media campaign when he closed his city with hashtags “ALLinAmarillo,” “ALLinTogether,” to encourage people to understand that if they went “all in” they could flatten the curve and protect the capacity of the hospital.

“We need to message that and convince people that this is a new form of citizenship. It’s not something we as Americans or Texans or Amarilloans have ever seen as a good neighbor, but going to all means everything. we are in the care of each other and do whatever is necessary at this unique and challenging time to keep our city safe, ”he explained.

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It caught on — to people not only posting on social media but also putting signs on their windows and in front of lawns.

Today, she posted videos of residents encouraging one another to wear a mask and maintain social distance.

“We used the tagline, ‘I will wear one for you, if you will wear one for me’ because it is truly a new form of citizenship that you will consider for others and the needs of others more than yours. own comfort, either in the vain of not wearing a mask or even the discomfort of having your nose and mouth closed, ”says Nelson.

“I think people in Amarillo know that stopping the spread of this disease depends more on the choices we make as individuals,” he added.

Mom of three, working from home

Since being immunized from radiation treatment for his cancer, Nelson has spent much of the last two months working from home and facing challenges that can be associated with working parents these days. During one of her virtual press conferences, her daughter was in the next room taking a distant ballet class, and her son was in another room taking trombone lessons.

“It’s all going on in the background, playing trombone, ballet music, and I have to answer difficult questions about how the city has responded to keep people safe during a global pandemic. And I thought , ‘Wow, I wish I couldn’t forget this moment because it was kind of quintessential what it was about,’ “Nelson recalls.

The mayor of Amarillo recognized his family, especially his wife, and his faith in helping him.

“You don’t live your life every day like it ends, but a cancer diagnosis will change that quickly. And then you bring in something like this Covid and it really gave our family a it is a gift of good times together and the recognition that the relationships we have are important and we want to invest in them and take care of each other, ”said Nelson.


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