Busted: COVID-19 a second blow to Carlsbad as oil prices remain low


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A new strain of the novel coronavirus is rapidly spreading from Europe to the US.
According to Business Insider, a new study says the virus is more infectious than its predecessor but is not making people any sicker than before.
According to Business Insider, researchers call the new strain G614 and the previous strain D614.
One researcher says the new mutation is “now the dominant form infecting people.”
The US has reported a total of 2,795,437 cases of the disease. 129,438 people have died of it since it gained a foothold within the country in January.

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The Carlsbad region was poised to send $3 billion to New Mexico coffers, thanks to one of the biggest oil booms in history. Then came COVID.

Hitting Home is a project of Searchlight New Mexico, a non-partisan, nonprofit news organization dedicated to investigative reporting in New Mexico. 

On a Thursday in late May, Michael Trujillo sat in the slightly softened evening light and watched his three children play in the water at Lake Carlsbad Beach Park, an unexpected patch of blue in the Chihuahuan desert. With his pit bull puppy at his feet, Trujillo passed slices of pizza from a stack of three Little Caesars boxes to two men in camp chairs. All three are oilfield workers, Carlsbad natives and, unlike thousands of others in the industry, all are still employed. But that hasn’t relieved their anger at the New Mexico governor and her coronavirus shutdown orders. “She needs to open the place up and let us do what we need to do,” the 36-year-old Trujillo said. 

Like a lot of people in town, Trujillo wishes Carlsbad was in Texas. 

In that state, just 40 miles to the south, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott didn’t order a COVID-19 lockdown until April 2 and allowed businesses to start reopening by May 1. By comparison, Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued some of the nation’s strictest stay-at-home orders and didn’t ease them until June. That didn’t sit right with Carlsbad locals. 

“It just hasn’t hit us really; we don’t have many cases,” said Valentine Bustos, Trujillo’s cousin. None of the men wore a face mask. Neither did the scores of other people in the park. “We should have been able to reopen weeks ago,” Bustos said.

Welcome to Carlsbad, one of the most defiant and incongruous places in New Mexico. It is a Republican stronghold in a blue state — a speck in the desert with outsized clout. Nothing about it suggests vast wealth. But it sits atop one of the most productive oil fields in the world, a fabulously rich basin that makes the Carlsbad region the most powerful in the state, able to boost New Mexico or betray it. Even a small economic hit to Carlsbad can mean a gut punch to the rest of the state.

“We’re dependent on an industry that we have no control over,” said State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard, who oversees oil and gas leases on state-owned land. New Mexico has over-relied on the Permian to fund state government for far too long, she said, her voice rising in frustration. “This industry is so…



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