On Friday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham took two important steps in what seems to be the never-ending battle against COVID-19.
She extended the indoor mask mandate and authorized booster shots for all adults in the state.
This, as New Mexico cases continue to surge. A combination of the waning efficacy of vaccination shots, people gathering indoors and general exhaustion with the pandemic likely are behind the increase in cases.
It’s clear we must regroup and gird ourselves for what could be another long, harrowing winter.
After months of sacrifice, New Mexicans have come too far to let COVID-19 win now. Hospitals are overloaded; doctors, nurses and other health care workers are exhausted. It’s not just concern about COVID-19 patients in hospitals; people who have a heart attack or are in a serious car accident may not get proper care if hospitals lack staff and room.
But, as Dr. Wendy Johnson wrote (“We can handle the surge,” Commentary, Nov. 14), we can handle the surge. We know how, and we’ve done it before.
The medical director of La Familia Medical Center in Santa Fe reminds everyone vaccinations work, and with waning immunity — both for people who had COVID-19 or received vaccinations early last year — boosters are necessary.
Lujan Grisham’s decision to open up boosters to all adults, not just people over 65 or with underlying conditions, will increase protection.
Johnson notes this important fact: Even with an 80 percent vaccination rate in Santa Fe County, that leaves some 30,000 people without the protection of shots. And that’s not considering the thousands of visitors, many of whom might lack vaccinations.
Many of our neighbors without vaccinations are immune-compromised or children and couldn’t be vaccinated until recently. They need protection most of all.
Toward that end, Johnson stressed again: Masks work. “Over and over, masks have been shown to be highly effective, with N95 and surgical masks giving the best protection,” she wrote.
It’s essential to move quickly. Cases are surging in Europe, and the World Health Organization is warning the United States to act to prevent a similar spike here. In the past month, Europe has seen new coronavirus cases jump more than 50 percent. WHO officials predict another half a million deaths by February in Europe.
Before it’s too late, individuals can step up precautions. Get vaccinated or receive a booster. Keep wearing masks. Stay distanced and limit gatherings.
As Johnson said, we know what to do. By expanding access to booster shots and keeping the mask mandate in place, people will have the tools they need. It’s up to us to use them.