Marisa Demarco

Public Health New Mexico Reporter

Marisa Demarco is a reporter and musician based in Albuquerque, N.M. She's spent more than a decade in journalism, founding the New Mexico Compass, and editing and writing for the Weekly Alibi, the Albuquerque Tribune and UNM's Daily Lobo. She covers poverty and public health for KUNM. 

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Marisa Demarco / KUNM

FARMINGTON, N.M.—Nationwide, the number of people who die in jail is rising. Here in New Mexico, three deaths in three months in San Juan County’s lockup caught the attention of attorneys and the local newspaper

Elizabeth McKenzie

Irrigation water still isn’t flowing from the San Juan River to some farms on the Navajo Nation. Two chapters voted to keep ditches shut off after the Gold King Mine spill last month. But Navajo folks around the state are reaching out to help farmers and ranchers there. 

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An audit released today found weaknesses and deficiencies when it comes to funding requirements for special education. 

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

UPDATE 8/25 at 12:30 p.m.: President Russell Begaye is awaiting soil and sediment samples from the Navajo Nation's Environmental Protection Agency before deciding whether to remove restrictions on irrigation from the San Juan River, according to spokesperson Mihio Manus. Begaye, a farmer himself who's relied on the river, met with farmers in Shiprock on Thursday, Aug. 20. 


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KUNM Call In Show 8/27 8a

Advocates around the state are working to help new moms who want to breastfeed make it happen. They’re embarking on campaigns to normalize breastfeeding and inform women of their rights at work.

Are hospitals helping women start the process? Are New Mexico employers offering their workers clean, private spaces to pump milk? Did you or anyone you know ever face disapproval or judgment for nursing in public? Are businesses friendly to breastfeeding moms?

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

It’s been two weeks since the Gold King Mine spill closed irrigation on the Navajo Nation and officials say fields around Shiprock are beginning to die off. Farmers there want to know when they’ll be able to water their crops again.    

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

It’s been nearly two weeks since the Gold King Mine spill caused the shut down of San Juan River irrigation to farms on the Navajo Nation. Emergency stopgap measures aren’t quite panning out. 

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Update Aug. 18, 11:30 a.m.: The EPA said the water for the Navajo Nation came from nearby Bloomfield and met state and federal quality standards. The trucks came from a division of an Aztec, N.M.-based company, Triple S Trucking, that moves non-potable water. The company also hauls fluids to and from oil fields. KUNM awaits comment from Triple S. 

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

SHIPROCK, N.M.—Not everyone on the Navajo Nation had heard about the Gold King Mine spill that happened more than a week ago, even though they might live along the San Juan River.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

SHIPROCK, N.M.—Farmers near the San Juan are frustrated by the lack of data from the Environmental Protection Agency after pollutants were released from the Gold King Mine more than a week ago. 

Toxins traveling through the Animas flowed into New Mexico’s San Juan, but it’s not yet known exactly what’s in the river on the Navajo Nation or at what concentrations. That’s at the root of a lot of worry for farmers in Shiprock, who fear the worst for their crops.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

UPDATE, Friday, Aug. 14, 5 p.m.: The EPA says testing results from the Navajo Nation should be released on Saturday.   

Rita Daniels / KUNM

State officials met with the Navajo Nation Council on Monday, Aug. 10, to talk about mine waste contamination of the San Juan River flowing through tribal land. New Mexico's top environment official had harsh words about the EPA’s lack of transparency and support. 

Rita Daniels / KUNM

The Navajo Nation Council met on Monday, Aug. 10, to talk about impacts from the more than 3-million-gallon toxic spill into the Animas River. "This is an assault on our way of life," said Delegate Amber Crotty. "This is an assault on core of who we are as Diné people."

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Moms and hospitals around the state are working to figure out what can be done to support breastfeeding. It’s all about re-normalizing an ancient and intimate exchange of nutrition in the United States today.   

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It’s World Breastfeeding Week, and proponents are looking at how New Mexico treats new mothers. via CC

Almost a quarter of the people in New Mexico rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—about 448,000. And the Human Services Department is once again calling for more work search and volunteer hours or job training for recipients. Opponents say the rule changes are confusing.

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  While students wait for the University of New Mexico to investigate their claims of sexual assault, sometimes their grades suffer, and the long process can be consuming. The holdup might be because civil rights investigators at UNM only recently had sexual assault cases added to their workload.   

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Albuquerque’s Environment Department has denied the permit for a company to build a hot-mix asphalt plant near a wildlife refuge in the South Valley.

The department was slated to hold hearings about the plant, but before those were set, found that Albuquerque Asphalt’s plan could generate contaminant levels that exceed air quality standards.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

The traditional healing method known as curanderismo has been passed down through generations in this region, and practitioners from Mexico and around the state gathered Wednesday on the University of New Mexico campus.

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More than one in five New Mexicans is on food stamps—that’s almost half a million people. Advocates are concerned that coming changes could force people off the federally funded program, and many religious folks are speaking out against the possible new rules. Faith leaders don’t see feeding the hungry as a partisan issue but rather as a basic tenet of their faith.  

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New Mexico’s auditor identified more than $4.5 billion in unspent state funds earlier this year. Now a national agency wants to see some of that money go to a program for people with disabilities.

It’s known as the DD Waiver, and it’s a program that helps folks with developmental disabilities get services. But the waiting list is up to 10 years long.

Sheila Stephenson

Mental health care and substance abuse treatment here has been in flux since Medicaid payments to providers were frozen in 2013. And two counselors are striking out on their own in a rural part of the state.

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Some New Mexicans may have been dropped by mistake from a federal program that aims to help people pay their phone bills.

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Albuquerque’s City Council will consider an ordinance in August aimed at helping part-time workers, but small business owners and employers say it’s unrealistic. 

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Around the country, pedestrian deaths are most common in low-income areas. And New Mexico has had the highest average rate of pedestrian deaths in the U.S. for the last few years, according to the CDC. 

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Women looking to vaccinate themselves against a cancer-causing virus usually have to take three trips to the doctor’s office. But researchers are looking into more efficient ways of delivering protection.

Two types of the sexually transmitted infection HPV, or human papillomavirus, cause three quarters of all cervical cancers. And a research paper published this month shows that it may only take a single dose of vaccine to prevent them.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Sudden cardiac arrest hits hundreds of thousands of people of all around the country, and it affects folks of all-ages, even those with no other illnesses or obvious symptoms. A new program in the state is training people to know what to do when it happens.  

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A survey by the Associated Press has revealed that fewer abortions are happening around the country, and New Mexico is among the six states that have seen the biggest drop. 

The abortion rate fell by almost a full quarter—24 percent—in New Mexico since 2010, according to the AP. 

Lalita Russ, a field organizer with Planned Parenthood here, said it’s important to note that the decline happened both in states that did not pass laws to limit access to abortion—and those that did.

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Among Americans who make less than $30,000 a year, about half of them have high-speed Internet at home, but a program might help narrow the digital divide.

The program is called Lifeline, and right now it allows people with lower incomes to have cheap—or sometimes free—phone service.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

  Since the ’70s, people have been homesteading on the mesa near Albuquerque, just south of the proposed Santolina development. Bernalillo County says without official roads and permits, these Pajarito Mesa structures are illegal, but families are fighting to keep their homes.  

Scattered across Pajarito Mesa’s 18 thousand acres are gutted trailers, piles of tires battered by the sun and sandy dirt trails. Somewhere around 800 people are making a go of it here, despite the lack of modern conveniences like running water or an electrical grid. But there’s another side to the mesa.