Teresa Kerstiens and her husband, Lyle Kerstiens, walk down East Palace Avenue on Thursday. Many around Santa Fe say they see light at the end of the tunnel since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced vaccinated people can go without masks in many circumstances. But some say they're still wary.

Vaccinated Santa Feans may soon return to their art galleries, breweries, parks and plazas without a mask — though some may not be ready to take that step.

After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday those who have received their full complement of COVID-19 vaccines can go maskless in most places, thrilled visitors and locals said they’ll nevertheless remain wary.

At least for now.

Though the state’s public health orders had not yet been altered in the hours after the decision, the relief was palpable — with many noting the CDC decision indicates the pandemic that had forced face covers upon much of the U.S. may be subsiding in tangible ways.

Santa Fe’s Alex Lindsay, 68, said he believes the new guidelines allow people to see light at the end of the tunnel.

“I feel comfortable about it here in New Mexico, at least,” he said. “Still, I don’t go into a store or a building without a mask. I think it’s actually going to happen, and we will be able to feel a little more comfortable with herd immunity if we ever get there.”

As they visited Santa Fe’s historic Plaza on Thursday afternoon, Stuart Garber, 60, and Luis Fernandez, 58, said that although they are fully vaccinated and will be happy to enjoy this new freedom, they’ll still be cautious in densely crowded areas.

“We feel pretty comfortable, but we still feel that we want to maintain the situation to be safe and secure,” Fernandez said.

Garber emphasized he trusted the decision because it was time — not the result of public pressure.

“I’m confident that the decision framework that the CDC, representing the whole of public health in the United States, and also the New Mexico public health authorities, are closely looking at evidence,” he said. “I don’t think of it as arbitrary or public pressure to accommodate the reopening of the economy.”

Governor’s Office spokeswoman Nora Meyers Sackett in an email wrote the state Department of Health is reviewing the CDC’s guidance for fully vaccinated people.

“We expect adjustments to the state’s public health order to be made imminently after a thorough evaluation of the new information,” she wrote.

Masks had been a source of controversy in Santa Fe through much of the pandemic, with local business owners and restaurant workers complaining many visitors didn’t wear them — or seemed not to care.

But some visitors touring Santa Fe, while welcoming the news, said they were happy so many people took the mask mandates seriously. They noted the situation in their home countries is not nearly as good as the U.S.

Yuki Girardi, 18, of Verona, Italy, and 19-year-old Martin Olate of Santiago, Chile, arrived in the state two years ago to study at United World College in San Miguel County. Olate said he feels privileged to be in a country and state that is implementing vaccines and public health orders effectively, noting his home country is still under lockdown and curfew orders.

“Having the possibility to go outside without a mask or go places, it’s weird for me,” he said.

The pair, visiting Santa Fe for a few days, said they’re happy to be in a place with a smaller population and lots of outdoor activities.

New Mexico’s COVID-19 numbers, which, like many places, had been on a roller coaster throughout the crisis, have remained relatively low for the past several weeks.

On Thursday, the state reported 202 new cases and two new deaths, including one fatality in Santa Fe County. The state on Thursday topped the 50 percent mark in completed vaccinations among eligible residents, and 61 percent have received at least one dose.

Many counties in New Mexico, including Santa Fe County, remain in the turquoise phase of reopening. But for some people on Thursday, the CDC’s announcement meant there were greener days ahead.

(59) comments

mark Coble

Today, the 19th, saw one of governor's staff walking to mailbox, alone, and he was, yep, wearing mask like a good boy. Why? Because nanny said so.

Jim Klukkert

So mark, today, the 19th saw one of governor's staff walking to mailbox, alone, and he was, yep, wearing mask like a good boy.

Did the 19th have an opinion on this sighting?

Tom Hyland

Why are magnets sticking to the spot directly where people were vaccinated? Here's an indepth article describing this phenomenon: https://tinyurl.com/892ntepk Further examination and research is provided here: https://tinyurl.com/yyad6ch8

Dottie Butler

The issue with continuing to wear masks are the unvaccinated. The are a very few reasons not to get vaccinated but those reasons would only apply to a very small number of the people that aren't vaccinated.

The biggest reason to wear a mask is to protect the unvaccinated. Should we care about that? They don't seem to care about that. I would say that we should care even if they don't. It's not about their behavior it's about ours.

It's difficult to deal with people that exercise poor judgement. That's more than just not getting a vaccine that might save your life, your long-term health, and the lives and long-term health of those closest to you physically and emotionally.

Margaret Eyler

But if you believe that the vaccine is effective--that as all evidence suggests it protects you from severe illness--why do you care if people are unvaccinated? That's a them problem.

Tom Hyland

There is help available as the masks become less important, less prevelant... help for those who might be suffering from a feeling of insecurity because the masks made them feel so protected. https://tinyurl.com/5hxmas7r

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LeRoy Sanchez


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Jim Klukkert

Hey Tom Hyland, you experiment is not working for us, despite a genuine effort. Hate to again call you out for being less than truthful, but if the tin foil hat fits....

I know that may not be as comfy as that pink kitty hat you suggested for me on one of your previous comments, but you'll just have to make do. Or not.

Actually, couldn't care less Tom, as you continue to sink any claim to credibility.

Kiki Martinez

Interesting how in the same week that Biden is being highly criticized for his lack of leadership he's on tv announcing "a great week" about not having to wear masks anymore.

John Cook

Huh. I've heard nothing but praise for Biden's leadership. Where did you find this high criticism?

Lee DiFiore

Huh? Gas prices up 53 cents a gallon since joe took office. 200K immigrants crossing the border illegally every month. 22,000 immigrant kids in cages. Weak employment numbers. Inflation up 4.2% just last month. Violent crime on the rise in every American big city, including ABQ. Businesses can't find workers since the government's free money scheme makes it more attractive to stay home than work. And all this in just 4 months! Yep a stellar job.

John Cook

There you go, Kiki. Now we know. You listen to the ravings of Lee DiFiore. And his/her ilk.

Lee DiFiore

But you didn't indicate anything I said was incorrect. So who's raving?

Jim Klukkert

Lee DiFirore, I will be glad to indicate nothing you said can be laid solely at President Biden's door.

Making 7 quick claims in one post, you certainly have made a lot of work for yourself. As the one who has made these claims, you are the one who must substantiate those claims.

Speaking of your many outrageous and "less than truthful" claims, on Monday 10 May, you posted: "Your kids being taught in public schools that some races are superior to others.”

This is cause for alarm and concern, if true. I have asked you repeatedly to please tell us more about this, so that once satisfied that it is true, we can unite to defend our kids.

After repeatedly asking you to substantiate this claim, without your response to the question, I can only assume your claim is false. I had hoped that you had the courage to take responsibility for posting an alarming falsehood, and so would issue at least a disclaimer, if not an apology.

Given your non-performance, Mr. DiFirore, perhaps it would be better for all of us, if you ceased polluting this space with baseless and outrageous falsehoods.

Stefanie Beninato

I don't know where you live but in Santa Fe the gas price has not gone up 53 cents since Jan.

Margaret Eyler

I’m with Lee👋👋👋

Jim Klukkert

Lee DiFiore- I am highly amused that you actually believe you have any credibility on these pages. Certainly one who regularly posts unsubstantiated claims has little to no internet skills, so I will decline your teaching offer.

Certainly I have no faith in someone who potty talks so much that his comments have a 1/2 life of 12 hours.

You are a dealer in falsehoods, without the courage to admit that practice, Mr. DiFiore, What a waste of time and space.

Margaret Eyler

So funny how people don’t see this

Bonnie Cox


Margaret Eyler


Michael Schneider

I was unable to understand the concerns of those who insisted on wearing masks when social distancing was easily maintained in remote outdoor spaces/trails. Most curious, was the raising of the mask when quickly passing by such person in a matter of seconds on a bike or running. On one hand there was acknowledgement that COVID was not pervasive in the air yet somehow something very terrible could happen in a split second of my passing.

Khal Spencer

There was analysis and pushback by some in the scientific community about the more irrational parts of mask mandates, i.e., when out alone on a trail, it made little sense. I recall a paper that tried to model aerosol dispersion and biking/running. It was primitive work and roundly criticized by scientists but the main problem was it was jumped on as gospel by non-scientists rather than being looked at as a first step, which it sorta was. We needed to understand, aerosol transport, virus load in aerosols, critical dose, etc.

Its been a cluster-bleep of good and bad ideas, but in a nation not hit by this kind of pandemic in a hundred years, its not surprising. We were learning by the seat of our pants and led by imperfect people. Find me a perfect CDC scientist or politician and I'll say we just saw the Second Coming.

As far as masks? When in close proximity to others during a pandemic, if everyone had a KN-95 or equivalent, it would make a great deal of difference. The fact that we have been using home made stuff of uneven quality is a testimony to our ill-prepared nation, not an assertion that any makeshift face covering will do.

But for some to say "its just a flu" is just, plain, wrong. Ask India right now.

Khal Spencer

Let me know what your credentials are to judge science. Seriously. And provide more of a rationale than a glib comment. Thank you.

Margaret Eyler

It’s (not) science!🤣

Jim Klukkert

Margaret Eyler, funny that you glibly say "It’s (not) science" to one of the better minds on these pages.

And, he knows how to spell!

Work on it Ms. Eyler. Lots of opportunity for your growth!

mark Coble

Very simple...they read the Daily Democrat message of FEAR and PANIC! So facts don't matter. It is ALL emotional or virtue signaling.

Carmen M

This decision seems arbitrary and political, rather than based on science.

Confidence in CDC has eroded significantly since start of pandemic.

Margaret Eyler


Nancy Lockland

Since when is it ok to make fun of or think less of people who don´t have the same beliefs as you. There has been anti-vaxxers for centuries and no one blinks an eye. All of the sudden because a flu is considered a pandemic everyone feels the need to judge. You are what is wrong with the world.

Khal Spencer

Since when? Well, since comedy was invented, Nancy.

Ernest Green

A belief system that harms others, specifically children and those already battling illness, will generally be open to very sharp judgment and deservedly so. This is neither a new reaction nor an unreasonable one. There are several billion vulnerable people in the developing world that would move mountains for access to this vaccine, if lucky it may be available to them and their loved ones sometime next year. Say a prayer for humanity and consider yourself incalculably fortunate to live where we do.

Stefanie Beninato

Nancy, look at the numbers who have died from COVID. A pandemic is described as a disease that spreads over several countries or throughout the world. Really, Nancy, stop listening to the former guy who occupied the WH.

Richard Irell

Anti-vaxxers have always been idiots in my book. And it is not the flu.

Tom Hyland

The face masks have been an absurd and unscientific band-aid to stop a virus. Virologists, in virus labs, working with viruses, are dressed like they are on the moon. They wear full body suits with attached boots, gloves, helmets and oxygen supply systems. They are not wearing bandanas. Have you seen the heart-wrenching videos of mothers interacting with their babies? All is love and cooing and giggling, then mommy puts on the mask and the baby starts crying. Masking up children is causing psychological damage that will never subside as their years progress. The New York Times posted a story recently which was backed up by real science stating that masking in public made absolutely no difference for prevention and NOBODY has been reported ill from walking by others in public, masked or unmasked. Read it for yourself. https://archive.is/tFKNs

John Cook

Well, Nancy Lockland, if rational people can't judge folks like Tom Hyland then there is no room for good sense in the world.

Tom Hyland

And what are folks like Tom Hyland like?

Richard Irell


Jim Klukkert

To elaborate on Richard Irell's accurate reply to Tom Hyland's question, "And what are folks like Tom Hyland like?" I would add-

Tom Hyland is the sort of person who posts lies to these comment pages, such as this

from Dec 12, 2020, claiming that a CDC report from May 2020 reporting that face masks are ineffective protection:

This is a CDC report from May 2020 reporting that face masks are ineffective protection against air-borne viruses.


Fortunately, another reader rebutted Hyland's post as follows:

"1) This report was not written or sponsored by the CDC. It's from the University of Hong Kong. It was first published in February 2020, before the widespread use of masks-- or at least the recommendation to wear them.

2) The report itself is a review of previous studies of the effectiveness of mask wearing against influenza, conducted between 1946 and 2018. It does not mention COVID-19.

3) One of the study’s authors said the claim that masks do not provide protection amounts to an "incorrect interpretation" of the study, "confusing absence of evidence with evidence of absence."

4) As a bonus, the same co-author, along several coronavirus specialists, later published the results of clinical trial indicating "that surgical face masks could prevent transmission of human coronaviruses and influenza viruses from symptomatic individuals." https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-020-0843-2"

Khal Spencer

That is an excellent article, Tom; thank you. Your conclusion is a little overdone but the idea that outside is Very Low Risk is on point. I agree everyone here should read it, assuming its not behind a paywall (I have a NYT subscription). The article points to many things: bad communication, unclear or sloppy assumptions, poor data documentation and classification (such as the Singapore example), and overzealous erring on the side of caution by panicked officials. The bottom line was good:

"All the while, the scientific evidence points to a conclusion that is much simpler than the C.D.C.’s message: Masks make a huge difference indoors and rarely matter outdoors."

I had to scratch my head when The Governor, in her All-Knowing Glory, insisted we wear masks everywhere and stay inside when that made no credible sense. I kept a mask handy on my rural bike rides for when I got back into the city just to avoid adding more trouble to a bad situation. But when alone or in low density outside? Aerosols disperse, evaporate, or land on the ground rapidly. That makes sense. Just how fast and how distant is the question. A bunch of construction workers milling about a food truck in close quarters is different than hiking a trail. Staying indoors and sheltering in place meant if one member of the household got The Bug, soon enough everyone else would.

Would I go to a crowded concert, outdoor church event, political protest, etc? Nope. Did I like the food markets keeping shopper density low? You betcha! Would I go out of my way to mingle with strangers, even with a mask? Too many possibilities; I don't want someone sneezing on me (my friend in Las Vegas said a young person took off his mask to avoid soiling it and sneezed on him. A few days later he had Covid). But I doubt I would get the bug from a rabbit out on La Tierra Trails and unless I was drafting another mountain biker in close quarters, doubt I would get The Bug from him/her, either.

Tom Hyland

That New York Times link I provided does not demand a subscription. Anyone can paste the link up above into the url slot and the document will open. Providing scientific findings that have been reported in the New Yourk Times?? I'm called a liar. All of this comes down to religion. It is your BELIEF, whatever you are believing, and I do not attend church with a majority of the people commenting on this forum. I guess because I don't believe that also makes me a heathen... an infidel... whatever. Keep the mask on, keep on the knee pads for those who pray to and obey government. Not my religion. This a flu, a virus, an unknown germ that has NOT been identified by the CDC nor any other lab. No one has perfected a purified indentifiable sample. So what are they testing and what are they vaccinating against? Since I learned I have a 99.5% chance of recovery if I should contract the "thang" I simply cannot care about any of this. Here's a News Flash...Big Shocker!! Nobody knew THIS!! Old people up in their 80's and 90's die from an accumilation of medical afflictions. And a flu can take them right out of here. Over 80% of deaths from this thing have been people over the age of 80 or morbidly obese. I'm glad to hear you're riding your bike, Khal. Breathe all the oxygen you can.

mark Coble


mark Coble

Far left folks don't care about facts...they care about control.

Khal Spencer

This is a relief, but vaccinated or not, I'm still not keen on having someone of unknown condition sneeze or hack on me. I'll keep my distance a while longer.

David Ford

Ditto! I am concerned that the anti-vaccers and anti-science elements (especially the alt-right and GQP) will view this as confirmation of their "beliefs" and go sans masks even if they are NOT vaccinated. Which, as it has always been, is selfish and speaks to the "all about me" mentality instead of the greater good of the general health of the overall population. Ironically, we could have reached this point far sooner had the leadership of that misinformation wing of their politics would simply tell the truth, for once.

Moses Townsend

Good point. Even after the pandemic subsides, anti-vaxx and conspiracies are something we’ll continue to deal with.

I met a woman last summer who I found out to be an anti-vaxxer tell me that they cause autism, brain issues, etc. I asked her where she learned such insights. She told me “I heard it from a friend, so it has to be true”. I thought it was sarcasm but she was serious. The lack of critical thinking in that community is astounding.

Khal Spencer

The anti-vaxxers seem to have pre-existing brain conditions. As far as the risks, this from a good college friend of mine.


Margaret Eyler

That’s not a good point. If you’re vaccinated, and have faith in the beloved science of vaccinations, why are you scared of unvaccinated ppl?? Haha that’s on them if they get sick.

But I’ll tell you why y’all are scared. It’s because you’re looking toward a life where the government no longer tells you what’s “safe” and “unsafe” every five minutes. Adult risk assessment in the vast unknown!

Margaret Eyler

Lol Cal you literally sit on your couch all day and google things don’t you?

Khal Spencer

Yep, Ms. Eyler. I document things as much as I can from reputable sources. Its called critical thinking. Are you familiar with that concept?

Tom Hyland

David, why do you support these several vaccinations that were rolled out within only a couple of months? Vaccines take MANY YEARS to develop because they have to be tested for the long term effects. Pregnant women vaccinated this year will just have to wait and see if something happens to their future children? Is that how this experiment goes? The latest survival numbers for those who contract the "virus", they still don't have a sample of what this thing is... the numbers are very inspiring to me. These are the age groups below. There's a higher chance of being struck by lightening.

0-14 99.999%

15-44 99.993%

45-64 99.929%

65-85 99.629%

Over 85 98.24%

With numbers like these... are you scared David? Are you actually worried? How can Republican voters, or anyone from ANY political persuasion effect your life or your safety when we have survival numbers like those above?

Jim Klukkert

Mr. Hyland, you again post data without citing your sources.

On the other hand Mr. Hyland, you have so often and so consistently misrepresented your sources, that your postings have little credibility.

Though you pose as having an interest in Mr. Ford's well being or state of mind, this forum is not really the appropriate venue for such discussions. Of course that you so often post such concerns regarding those who do not share your views, sarcastically, leads one to doubt that you are at all concerned with Mr. Ford's health or happiness.

mark Coble

I agree. NON FDA experimental shot will be interesting for those of us who are healthy and did not take shot. I have no fear of covid. I'm sure that upsets Jim.

mark Coble

OR...we know that Wu flu survival rates are very high for the healthy. Sick? Stay locked down forever? Sure, why not? I am anti NON FDA approved, no long term study, experimental shot. Why? I'm healthy! No co morbidities. What are effects of wearing bacterial and moisture laden mask all day? Or two hours? What DID (pre Wu flu) OSHA say about wearing masks in the work place? Don't ask! Far left loves to tell us how to live....obey and comply!

Tom Hyland

I'm glad for your reminder that OSHA has very strick guidelines regarding masks, Mark. They declared this way before any of the Covidiocy began that masks instantly block 20% of your oxygen intake and can only be worn for a few minutes, and then discarded. OSHA never endorsed wearing the same mask for 8 hours a day, and then wearing the same mask day after day. People visiting from New Jersey or Florida face-plant into the sidewalks of Santa Fe as a regular event. That's because we have such a significant lower quantity of oxygen here. Wear a mask thus, knocking it down another 20%, and you are risking brain damage, which is obvious reading the many hysterical comments here at the Santa Fe New Mexican. I just read that the many people continuing to wear masks are doing so because they dread people will think they are Republicans! This behavioral thinking could relate to results of oxygen deprivation, but I am not a scientist, just thinking out loud again, and you know how differing opinions here are regarded as racism and a threat to the community. To summarize the delusional belief that politics and government are here to help, I offer this gem... "If voting made any difference they wouldn't let us do it." - Mark Twain

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Jim Klukkert

Margaret Eyler, not only an intellectual giant, but a real sweet heart as well.

Thanks Ms. Eyler for being so clear in your comments!

Khal Spencer

Maybe that would be a good thing. Most women don't throw themselves at me.

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