News that Texas plans to open up — all businesses, 100 percent, and no more pesky mask mandate — is a slap in the face to the rest of the United States.

It’s a punch in the mouth to New Mexico.

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Tuesday he plans to open up all businesses and lift his state’s mask mandate next week despite warnings from health experts that now is not the time to become complacent.



He’s doing this at a time when the recent, encouraging drops in COVID-19 cases in the United States are stalling. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, announced Monday the number of new cases has remained steady at about 70,000 on a rolling average for a week.

That’s because many states, including New Mexico, are pulling back on public health measures designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Yes, the nation must begin a slow return to life with few restrictions, but that has to be accompanied by a robust vaccination strategy similar to what is happening in New Mexico. That’s not the case for Texas. No wonder there are extra shots in Amarillo for New Mexico residents who drive there.

Only some 12.9 percent of the Texas population has received one or more doses of vaccine. The state hasn’t begun to reach enough people so its population is protected. Over and over, we have seen that a too-rapid opening of businesses and activities leads to wider outbreaks of COVID-19. And poor New Mexico is on the border of two states — Arizona and Texas — that have become hot spots because of reckless public safety practices.

Under the Texas governor’s order, local governments aren’t allowed to put into place more stringent rules in individual cities or towns — except perhaps for some occupancy limits below 100 percent. No jurisdiction can impose a penalty against people who don’t wear masks. That most basic public health safeguard is being tossed aside.

The virus does not respect borders. As one of Texas’ nearest neighbors, New Mexico should be concerned that our friends and relatives in the Lone Star State remain healthy and don’t spread COVID-19 to cities such as Las Cruces, Clovis and Lovington.

Especially as spring break arrives, when Texans visit Santa Fe in droves, it would be wonderful to welcome them without worrying they will make us sick.

Many Texans don’t like New Mexico’s rules. That often means servers and hospitality workers have to engage with rude customers who endanger their health — and complain while doing so. The yearlong pandemic guidelines are stressful enough without having to babysit grown men and women who won’t wear a mask or stay 6 feet apart.

Texas still is digging out of the crisis that erupted when the state’s energy grid crashed during a spell of frigid weather. Some cities still are having problems with their water supplies — news website Vox reported Monday that 390,000 Texans still lack drinking water. Surely, Texas doesn’t need another coronavirus outbreak on top of what state residents have named “SNOVID.”

One crisis at a time, please.

For Abbott to ignore the science and put his citizens — and the rest of us — at risk, is irresponsible. Naturally, our state Republican Party is urging New Mexico to follow suit: Open up. Forget about masks. Do what you want, when you want.

No, thanks. In New Mexico, we will take care of each other — including finding financial support for businesses and individuals hurt because of the virus shutdowns. We will wear masks. We will respect our health care workers. We will be patient.

Incredibly, all of that might not be enough if Texas’ recklessness starts a fourth wave — just as New Mexico and the country are recovering. Thanks, neighbor.

(59) comments

Mike Johnson

Connecticut has just announced a complete opening of all facilities, bars, restaurants, churches, etc. to 100% capacity. I guess they are now joining Texas as neanderthals......

Jim Klukkert

Or maybe Mike, 1500 miles and serious differences in climate, culture, and government make some difference.

Just saying...

Mike Johnson

Well, as we know mask mandates don't work unless the people actually follow them, since there is no enforcement built into any state's mandates, so removing that is not really much to worry about, people will keep doing whatever they have been doing. As for the culture and climate, Conn. is much colder, wetter, and has many more closely packed cities than Texas. All that shows up in the deaths per capita, Texas is 24th in the US, at 1552 per million, while Conn. is doing much worse, 7th highest at 2158 per million. So, if both states open 100% of everything, I would bet that Conn. will fair much worse than Texas in increasing deaths. Time will tell if opening things up 100%, the same government action in both states, will be a huge factor in increasing deaths. I doubt the 1500 mile difference between the two will affect anything about this virus.

Scott Showen

F*#$ Texas.

Shawn E. Bravo

So happy Texas is making this decision. Couldn’t disagree more with nearly every word of this article. And what a pleasant surprise! After reading these comments it seems that I am not as alone as I’d thought,

Congratulations Texas!

Rico Suave

Couldn’t agree with you more Mr. Bravo. NM has completely mismanaged its COVID response. I keep hearing that the virus doesn’t know borders. While I don’t necessarily disagree with this assertion, it certainly argues against the silly red/yellow/green system implemented by MLG.

Angel Ortiz

So your assumption is that Texas, and Mississippi are addressing the virus more effectively? Nice psuedodnym. I would take you more seriously if you used your real identity. Pollo.

John Haynes

The U.S. national death rate per million is 1,619 per million. New Mexico's death rate is 1,784 per million, above the national average, 15th among states. Texas is at a death rate of 1,533 per mission, below the national average, below New Mexico, and 24th among states. 3/3/2021: https://www.realclearpolitics.com/coronavirus/country/united-states/

Khal Spencer

There is a lot to this besides masks. Further, no one to my knowledge has linked elevated cases to Texans coming across the border. It seems like everything is reduced to a red vs. blue issue.

Even in NM, the case frequency by county is variable.

Paul Davis

Variable might be putting it a bit mildy.

Current new cases (rolling 7 day avg) in Guadalupe County: 43.2 per 100k. Santa Fe County: 6.6, Harding & Catron: 0

Deaths, per million in Native American majority counties: 1.5 / million at present, Santa Fe county: 0.5 per million, Texas: 0.8 per million (7 day rolling averages)

I still wonder what the response from the conservative right would have been to a disease with Bubonic plague-like kill rates (30%) or so. I'm fairly convinced that it would have been downplayed in much the same way as COVID19, but I hope to not live to find out.

Pablo Blarto

This lockdown has not worked. We still have one of the highest death rates in the nation. This newspaper is constantly pandering to this administration like they do nothing wrong. Report the news!

Shawn E. Bravo

Pablo Blarto, very well said!

Angel Ortiz

[spam]

christopher quintana

"Texans go home" used to be a bumper sticker I remember seeing in grade school in the 70's. Asked mom and she said: "no comment."

Khal Spencer

"Build a wall and make the Texans pay for it!"

Mike Johnson

Right, or to paraphrase a famous movie scene: "Whataya gonna do? Arrest Texas for not having a mask mandate"......[lol]

Khal Spencer

Mel Brooks needs to make another movie. "Blazing Masks".

Margaret Eyler

Texans pay for most of the other things in this state so why not? It can keep New Mexicans who want the vaccines out of Amarillo.

Angel Ortiz

Sell Texas to Mexico.

Diad Wheeler

NM should put checkpoints for passenger vehicles on the major roads linking us to TX and if everyone doesn’t have a mask, they should be turned back. I was in TX yesterday and the lobby of the hotel was filled with unmasked people. Selfish idiots.

Margaret Eyler

🤣🤣🤣🤣

Mike Johnson

[rolleyes][rolleyes]

Shawn E. Bravo

And yet you survived. .

I can also assume you’ll be self-quarantining for 14 days, correct?

Rico Suave

It always amuses me when the left talks about how they only follow the “science” as if reasonable scientists cannot disagree. I’m sorry Diad but there is plenty of science to indicate that the mask is not going to save your life or the life of anyone else.

Diad Wheeler

If you’re talking about actual Science, the type used by real Scientists, then I’d love to see the data that says EVERY country in the World has it wrong about masks. Or is it the other “science’ you are referring to, the stuff promoted by QAnon and Fox News? You probably also believe that COVID-19 is a world-wide hoax fabricated by Bill Gates to earn money on vaccines (and put chips in your body to track you), the last election was stolen, and Barak Obama is a Muslim. Yea, that “science”, those “facts”.

Jim Klukkert

Rico Suave obviously knows little regarding how the scientific community functions.

There is room for debate on many subjects, but at some point, issues are resolved and points are added to 'the General Body of Knowledge." Such is the case with mask use. Mr. Diad Wheeler is correct in his cites.

Occasionally Sr. Suave, points in the General Body of Knowledge are reinvestigated, and you can be sure all aspects of the Global Coronavirus Pandemic are the focus of fevered research. Nonetheless, it remains fully accepted that mask use is key to turning the tide.

I know more than a few scientists, many of whom used to cheerfully ignore politics as they are generally absorbed with their own work. This 'stay in my own lane' attitude has dramatically changed in the last two decades. Scientists are driven by the anti-science attitudes of conservative Climate Change Deniers of the Alt-Right Republican Party, and the Faux Science Pro-Fossil Fuel Campaign funded by the billionaires of the Oil and Gas Industries, as well as the nonsense spouted by folks like Sr. Suave.

As a Democratic Socialist, I would almost thank you Sr. Rico Suave, for pushing Scientists into social activism, except for the terrible damage wrought by your studied and willful ignorance.

Shawn E. Bravo

Mr. Klukkert,

Please explain what you mean when you say “that mask use is the key to turning the tide”

I too “know more than a few scientists” and I can assure you that your views are not the only alternative to the ignorance you’ve described. I will be the first to admit that YES, there are many conservative individuals who are not exactly quick to accept change, or particularly well versed in modern science. But surely you can also admit that many members of your own Democratic Party could fall into that same category. Regardless of political association nearly all of us tend to favor our own naturally held beliefs.

Sr. Suave is simply pointing out the fact that several reputable individuals in the medical field have taken stances that oppose or at least do not line up entirely with that of the NM government.

I respect your opinion as an individual and though I’m sure you and I would likely disagree on nearly all matters, I still appreciate the opportunity to broaden my own views through opposition. I firmly believe this can be done without baseless claims or intentional put downs.

Whether you’re happy with Texas or not, let’s remember that we are all (I’m assuming) New Mexicans and no matter how much we despise each others views we are governed by a singular body and should work to better this land. Rather than tear it from left to right.

Lee DiFiore

We'll know for sure down the road whether the move by TX is a good one or not. Here's what we know for sure now. NM's handling of the virus has not stopped the spread as 185,542 (almost 9% of the state's population) have tested positive for the virus and 3,740 have died. NM businesses and jobs have been and continue to be crushed by the partial and complete closures. Hospitalizations are below 200 statewide yet, for the most part, the state remains in more restrictive lockdowns than almost the entire country And somehow what TX is doing is crazy?

Angel Ortiz

Give Texas a few weeks. Count the body bags. Then again, it will be mostly the poor and those of color who will suffer. Not crazy in Texas. I believe reckless, ignorant and neanderthal fit better.

Jim Klukkert

What we do know Lee, is that Medical Professionals and others in TEXAS are very concerned that Abbot has been extremely hasty in rolling back the mask mandate.

CBS News: Texas Governor Greg Abbott's announcement on Tuesday to lift statewide COVID-19 restrictions was met with criticism from doctors and some local officials who say it comes too soon in the fight against the virus.

"What I see here is a premature and misguided discussion putting our community at risk, and it's unnecessary because we're headed where we need to go," said Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo.

JB Weinberg

As the saying goes: Poor New Mexico, so far from Heaven, so close to Texas.

Mike Johnson

Yes, but at least being close to Texas now means you can drive over and get vaccinated anytime you want, no waiting or ridiculous rules and process that NM has....

Stefanie Beninato

[beam]

Peter Romero

Russell, I feel the same way about New Mexico. I love my state, the natural resources, all the cultures and the food. What the Democrats have done to New Mexico since 1912 is keep us in the top of every bad list and the and the bottom of every good list. Que lastima.

Russell Scanlon

I think any one party state is a bad idea.

Stefanie Beninato

Sorry Pete but the Republicans were in charge of this state until the 1930s. Then it seesawed back and forth especially the office of the governor. You do remember the governor named Martinez who finished 2 terms just a year or so ago.

Rico Suave

Sorry Stefanie but Governor Martinez had to deal with a Democrat controlled House and Senate for most of her 8 years that fought her every step of the way. While there have been other Republican governors, every Democrat governor since 1930 has enjoyed Democrat control of the House and/or the Senate while in office. To say that the Democrats have not mostly controlled the NM legislature since 1930 is incorrect.

Russell Scanlon

You can choose to deny the basic science of airborne communicable diseases, but that isn’t going to change the facts.

Just because YOU haven’t become ill with COVID doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It just means you are lacking in a certain type of empathy.

Margaret Eyler

Remember "Flatten the Curve" and "Two Weeks to Slow the Spread"? Now we seem to be restricted until there is not one CASE of coronavirus. (I can't wait what color we have to achieve after turquoise--I'm sure she will make something up).

For the millionth time, if you're high-risk then stay home until you get the vaccine. For those of us who's survival rate is 97% and higher, we will go back to work--gladly accepting tourism dollars for whoever spends them--and start rebuilding this state (to fund all the government programs you vote for while sitting on your couch).

Margaret Eyler

I would also like to point out that the vast majority of spread occurs in private settings. This state isn't going to lift mask mandates, occupancy restrictions and social distancing requirements any time soon so--according to science--unless you plan on hugging on some Texans, I think you're safe.

Jim Klukkert

Margaret Eyler- Your assertion that "Now we seem to be restricted until there is not one CASE of coronavirus," flies in the face of the commonly accepted Public Health community thought that we will have contained the Coronavirus Pandemic in the US when the death rate drops to a rate comparable to influenza. In the the 2018–2019 season the CDC estimates the toll was approximately 34,200 deaths, That is not quite 94 deaths per day. In everyday conversation, the goal is 100 deaths per day.

You comments, Ms. Eyler, seem to be a mix of factual distortions, scorn and selfish entitlement. It is unlikely that 'high-risk' folks, or people of any intelligence, are going to bet their health on such a limited and compassionless perspective.

Shawn E. Bravo

Odd of you to refer to Margaret Eyler as having a “compassionless perspective.” I was under the impression that the essential workers of our nation who have been brave enough, (and patient enough) to ensure this nation stays moving over the last year have been VERY compassionate. Essential workers who have gone to work every day of this pandemic so that our nation does not crumble completely have done so with no guarantee of a vaccine; and no guarantee of safety. If someone’s desire to work so that others can be vaccinated is a “compassionless” act, then I do not know what else to say.

Jim Klukkert

Shawn E. Bravo- I had no idea that Margaret Eyler is an ‘essential worker.’ That fact does not change my opinion that her comment “For the millionth time, if you're high-risk then stay home until you get the vaccine,” is totally lacking in compassion for the elders amongst us.

If Ms. Eyler or others do not value elders, that truly and sadly marks people without any sense of humanity.

When I come to that dark place, like you, I do not know what else to say.

Jim Klukkert

In the event that I have been unclear in my assessment of Margaret Eyler comment having revealed her limited and compassionless perspective, please permit my elaboration:

The human species is very social, and isolation and exile are know to be a severe hardship for people to endure. Indeed, solitary confinement is known to drive prisoners quite mad, and Native American nations were known to impose exile on the worse offenders of their codes.

In her exhortation “For the millionth time, if you're high-risk then stay home until you get the vaccine,” Ms. Eyler displays a casual, cheerful and indeed callous indifference to those she condemns to isolation and exile. Many of those at high risk of Covid-19 are elderly, others have underlying health issues.

Covid-19 imposes upon these people isolation at home; violation of that edict is serious illness and perhaps death, and death alone without the company of family nor friends. It is an awful burden to bear. If one is so fortunate that one can go out for work or household errands, or can enjoy appropriately social distanced recreation, what a blessing compared to that isolation. Those so blessed should not forget those isolated against the Global Pandemic.

In case I am too subtle: Woe unto those people who do not value their elders, woe again to those who do not feel for the more vulnerable amongst them. It is a short dark path you walk.

Is this the sort of people we have become? Once we honored our elders, now we are unconcerned? Once we looked after the vulnerable, now we deny any feeling for their plight? Should we not Heal the Sick, Feed the Hungry, Care for the Weakest among us, and Comfort the Afflicted?

Tall order, and impossible for the heartless. But the obvious choices for the broad minded and compassionate.

From my reading of her comments, not a likely choice for Ms. Margaret Eyler.

mark Coble

Before you condemn Texas you may want to know what the mortality rate is for SARS-2 Covid 19 which originated in Wuhan, China (this is how CDC describes it, not me!). What is your chance of death if you are under 75 and healthy? I am betting you don't know...why is that? How long must you be exposed to someone who is ill in order for you to be infected? Why are people wearing masks in cars when they are alone? Is their car so very full of virus? Why are we not wearing gloves if it helps stop spread? What happened to "two weeks to flatten the curve"? Is "100 days of masking" a true statement or will it turn out to flat out lie (!!!) like "two weeks"? I LOVE my odds of survival without taking experimental shot. Good luck, human test subjects.

JB Weinberg

You will be a beneficiary of all those of us who do believe in science and take the vaccine. Come talk to us when your father (or other beloved) dies because of failures of leaders to implement and enforce sensible and proven public health measures, and failures of selfish humans to follow these measures.

Russell Scanlon

This is why I left Texas. . . It is a one party political cesspool. The governor only cares about his image in running for national office, the Lieutenant Governor is a former Right Wing talk show host without a brain or a shred of empathy, and the Attorney General is a swindler and a criminal. Republicans, all. . . .

Pablo Blarto

You moved from a one party cesspool to another my friend.

Mike Johnson

[thumbup] Indeed....

Russell Scanlon

It seems a little “different” here for sure. The Democrats don’t necessarily care about you—but the GOP has gone stark raving mad and they have never even pretended to care about anyone that’s not a billionaire.

Randall Finley

So, all states should follow whichever state has the strictest guidelines? Interesting view of states’ rights!

Barry Rabkin

The point is the COVID-19 doesn't 'respect borders.' The Texas Governor has put New Mexican's people's lives at risk of infection, hospitalization, and death. His action is truly idiotic, ignorant, and homicidal: more people of the States that Texans visit will become infected, hospitalized, and die. I'm fine with this gigantic act of stupidity and recklessness if Texans do not come to New Mexico until the pandemic is under control (and I'll define that as 65%+ of each state's population are fully vaccinated.) If the Texas Governor wants to kill Texans, that is his decision.

Lee DiFiore

Just like it was the decision of the NY governor to kill New Yorkers in nursing homes.

Stefanie Beninato

Yeah I am sure Cuomo went in to the nursing homes and killed occupants. He may have underreported the deaths but that is far different than what appears to be your ignorant accusation.

Lee DiFiore

Don't know where you get your news but everyone pretty much agrees that Cuomo's policies killed many, many thousands in NY nursing homes.

Jim Klukkert

Lee DeFlection's source for his overtop assertion that Gov. Cuomo killed "many tbousands in NY" is "everyone pretty much agrees."

So everyone pretty much agrees that's the honest truth. Gawd save us from statisticians like Lee.

zach miller

I appreciate this oped, it was one of the first things I thought of when I saw Abbott lifting restrictions on businesses. Republicans complain about a civil rights bill because they think police won't be able to stop themselves from committing civil rights violations, therefore forcing the taxpayer to foot the bill, even though the civil rights bill will end qualified immunity as well; But the Republicans don't care about over stressed healthcare systems, while patients from other states are treated in NM facilities, that comes out of the taxpayer's wallet.

I want the civil rights bill to pass. And if NM has the space and person power to handle out of state patients, I say go for it. Its just we should have beaten COVID-19 months ago, and this will further prolong recovery, which further hinder the Economy of every state in the area, all while Republicans cry wolf about spending, instead of putting in the work to implement fixes.

zach miller

This isn't a left v right issue. Its a decent human beings v the republicans refusing to ever do anything sans their own personal interest, at the expense of everyone else. Denying facts isn't a political stance.

Russell Scanlon

[thumbup]

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