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.

(8) comments

mark Coble

Let's shut down all non essential businesses, close schools, mandate double masking, 12 feet of social distancing, close restaurants, and close our borders while vaccinating everyone door to door, like it or not. We must use all the tools to stop this deadly, very, very deadly disease. If you disagree you hate grandma and freedom. We must also ignore natural immunity and any talk of herd immunity. We aren't horses!

Chris Mechels

Is the New Mexican suggesting Lockdowns; under "using all tools"? Perhaps they should be clear, and stop playing Doctor.

Mike Johnson

I think they may be studying what Austria is doing, for us to do next......"About two million people who have not been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 have been placed in lockdown in Austria as the country faces a surge in cases.

"We are not taking this step lightly, but unfortunately it is necessary," Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said.

Unvaccinated people will only be allowed to leave home for limited reasons, like working or buying food."

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-59283128

Robert DeWitt

"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." These facile statements about why New Mexico is facing an increase in covid cases are belied by a simple follow-up question: Then why are the southern states, from Florida to Texas, experiencing much lower covid levels? Perhaps the answer is indeed due to higher levels of indoor activity as cold weather sets in, but, even then, it's not exactly winter in much of NM yet. And if vaccine efficacy is an issue, then it is for those southern states, as is the go-to excuse: "pandemic exhaustion". Until a scientifically-based answer is available to New Mexicans, none of us will really know what we should be doing to help reduce the spread here. Until then, please refrain from publishing explanations that don't bear even scant scrutiny.

Mike Johnson

[thumbup]Well said, they really are clueless about the reasons here, but one thing for sure, this mask mandate has not worked, but MLG still wants it, what do they call insanity?

Chris Mechels

Mike, its not insanity, its just politics; as it has always been. Lockdowns were justified on the basis of "every life matters". Now they don't. Now we use masks, and "face coverings" to show action, while the LEDA Recovery Act throws $200 million in grants out the window toe reopen the economy. MLG, as always, is two faced, and the only REAL goal is her re-election. Our only REAL goal must be to block the re-election, as MLG is a very ineffective "Executive" and a very good liar. We need her GONE...

Mike Peterson

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][censored][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

Mike Johnson

I do agree with that Chris, she has mastered the politics of power and control, and has used the egregious and poorly written emergency health act to extend her power and control to even spending federal funds, she will not give any of this up easily.

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