Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber and nearly all of New Mexico’s congressional delegates wrote an open letter Friday urging the business community to require private-sector employees to get vaccinated or submit to regular coronavirus tests.

More than two dozen elected officials signed the letter, which comes amid another surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations that many fear could jeopardize the state’s economic recovery.

“In short, the pandemic is not over,” the letter said. Although economic activity has picked up after the state lifted its COVID-19 restrictions earlier this summer, “this momentum … is not guaranteed; we must protect it and work to create an environment where consumers and workers feel safe.”

The legality of mandating employees to get vaccinated has been a thorny issue across the U.S. Yet Genesis HealthCare, the country’s largest nursing home chain, announced this week it would require its workers to get the coronavirus vaccine. The University of New Mexico and state government also have implemented vaccination mandates. State workers who are not vaccinated must undergo regular coronavirus testing.

Friday’s letter from many of New Mexico’s top political leaders encouraged private businesses to do the same.

“Vaccine resistance — often fueled by misinformation and propaganda — stands in the way,” the letter said. “We need to finish the job. And we need your help.”

In an interview, Bridget Dixon, president of the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce, said more businesses should encourage their employees to get inoculated.

“We’re not going to be able to begin that recovery process until we get people back at work, and that means them feeling confident in [returning to] work by being vaccinated so they’re not afraid to be helping customers as they’re walking in the door,” Dixon said.



“Obviously, there’s going to be a few exceptions where people may have some sort of immune disorder where they can’t get vaccinated. But overall, they do need to be vaccinated,” she added.

Pat Block, a lobbyist for the New Mexico Retail Association, said: “Many of our members are doing similar things to what the state has done. Our members are providing cash incentives to their workers. They’re providing paid time off to be vaccinated. … So our members are doing many things to incentivize and encourage as wide a vaccination program within the workforce as possible.”

The state has offered $100 cash payments to people who receive vaccinations in two rounds of an incentive program aimed at boosting numbers of inoculated residents. It also created a lottery sweepstakes with a total of $10 million in prizes, with 20 vaccinated residents winning $250,000 each since late June. On Saturday, the state will hold a final drawing for a $5 million grand prize.

According to the state Department of Health, 65.3 percent of eligible New Mexicans are fully vaccinated, including nearly 40 percent of the state’s 12- to 17-year-olds. The Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have yet to be approved for children under 12.

In recent weeks, demand for the vaccines had begun to level off, prompting new cases to rise, particularly among the unvaccinated. In the past six months, more than 90 percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths have been among people who were not vaccinated. In the past month, the number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 in New Mexico has more than doubled, according to Health Department data.

Until more businesses implement vaccination policies, the virus will continue to spread, elected officials said in their open letter.

“We expect these sorts of requirements to become significantly more commonplace in the coming weeks as governments and businesses recognize the severe and imminent economic risk of continued vaccine resistance,” the letter said. “A willingness on the part of private sector leaders to take the initiative here in New Mexico will keep your workforce safer, boost consumer confidence and help guarantee that our steady economic progress is not needlessly endangered or reversed.”

(22) comments

Comment deleted.
Lupe Molina

[ban] this guy posts nothing but conspiracy theories [spam]

Mike Johnson

"Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber and nearly all of New Mexico’s congressional delegates wrote an open letter Friday urging the business community to require private-sector employees to get vaccinated or submit to regular coronavirus tests." In other words, all the left wing, progressive Ds. Is it any wonder people still think this is all about politics and not public health? Why wouldn't some prominent NM epidemiologists, pandemic researchers, and noted nonpartisan public health officials do this instead of politicians? Because it is all about politics....still.

John Cook

When you are right, you are right, Dr. Johnson. This whole campaign to politicize the vaccines is a fairly obvious ploy by the elites to wipe out the Republican party.

Robert Fields

The republican party is doing this to themselves. It’s a self-inflicted wound. Ron DeSantis is busy threatening local officials in Florida if they dare to mandate masking in the face of the delta variant and greatly-increased infection rates while their covid numbers are rocketing up. Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and other republican run states are all seeing massive infection rates as the republican “leaders” bury their heads and pray harder while promoting dangerous and deadly behaviors.

This is a highly infectious disease that thanks to republican politicization is running rampant and killing children who cannot yet be vaccinated. Republicans did this. It’s on them. And it’s a distraction from Johnson’s other passion - denying climate change.

Philip Taccetta

[thumbup]

Lupe Molina

Not the smartest question, Mike. All doctors and epidemiologists recommended the virus for adults months ago. They're concerned with public health and overall vaccination rates. The policymakers are the ones recommending corporate policy. And I'm glad they are. I'm more likely to patronize businesses with vaccine mandates now.

Lupe Molina

Lol. Sorry, recommended the vaccine*. Only the doctors who voted for Trump recommend the virus.

Mike Johnson

I also will be more likely to patronize those places that state their staff are all vaccinated, and also allow vaccinated people to chose whether to wear a mask or not. Those that require masks regardless of vaccine status are ignorant, unscientific, don't trust the vaccine and thus are encouraging the insane anti-vaxxers who also do not trust the vaccine. People who do the right thing and get vaccinated should not be punished and treated the same as the idiots who don't.

Robert Fields

You should try determining accurately who is vaccinated as you welcome people to your business. With vaccine cards that are easily counterfeited and a segment of the population happy to subvert and exploit that vulnerability, how do you make sure patrons are vaccinated? Remember that this can literally be life and death and there are sometimes no second chances. How do you protect customers and their children who don’t have a choice in vaccination? Half the population is willing to mask up, vaccinate, and protect others. The other half is not.

You are right that we should not be penalized for other peoples’ ignorance and choices but the reality is that the militantly unvaccinated cannot be trusted. If you want to protect yourself, mask up.

Comment deleted.
Philip Taccetta

You need to do more research on actual, real sites - not Faux and the like. There is so much misinformation in your post that it’s laughable.

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Carolyn DM

Well how about you mention all those, "risk factors". Surely you can dig some up from FOX ENTERTAINMENT or NEWSMAX. And if you do actual research from reputable sources, you'll find that, "natural immunity from covid due to exposure", is a bunch of BS, especially with the Delta variant, and you'll also find that the majority of new cases due to Delta, are 20 and much younger. Please humor us!!

Vince Czarnowski

Forcing people to do things to their bodies that they don’t want to do is flat out wrong. I am vaccinated, but it was my choice. The government is starting to seriously get carried away with this. If they can force people to do things they don’t want to do, we have lost our freedom.

Barry Rabkin

The Constitution and associated laws exist to support government and business mandates to get vaccinated. Freedom does not mean that each of us is free to do whatever we want to do. If COVID (and its variants) infected and remained with the infected person that would be fine with me. But the virus is highly infectious and spreads throughout society, including to people who can’t get vaccinated for health reasons or to the very young who are not eligible to get vaccinated. Questions about mortality (by age group) are reasonable questions but the answers to those questions are only part of the problem. Answers to the level of healthcare resources (beds, ventilators,nurses, doctors) available must also inform public health strategy. MLG is 100% in her concern about the multi-generation households in New Mexico. A young student going to school during this pandemic should wear a mask because each student, like each adult, is a repository and vector of the virus. That young student could infect grandparents or babies in their home. So, being concerned about mortality rates only goes so far but nowhere near far enough. And thankfully, States or businesses can legally mandate the people working for them get fully vaccinated. And no, we won’t lose our freedom because of those mandates.

Brenda Neikirk

Well said!

mark Coble

Do we quarantine those at risk or just lock everyone down? Guessing you prefer the "better safe than sorry" story of locking down the healthy, darn the consequences to the healthy and those running small businesses. IF you are fearful YOU stay home....for EVER or until you are safe 100% of the time? What is risk to healthy people....I know, don't ask. The sheep don't need facts. they embrace nanny state.

John Cook

No one is forcing anyone to do anything. You should have the freedom to not go to work, to not get on public transportation, to not go into public businesses or public polling locations if you want to spread a disease. It should be your choice.

Lupe Molina

Nobody is forcing anything on anyone. Quit the hyperbole. It still is a choice. It's just that these employers are also saying that if you value conspiracy theories over the safety of your coworkers, then we'll consider it your choice not to work here anymore.

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Stefanie Beninato

Another right wind propaganda. It is rare but those vaccinate can still get COVID and they can still be carriers. Stop endangering people with your illogical rants.

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