The last of winter’s chill is still hanging over us; our house is closed up tight. And yet, all hours of the night I can still hear the roar of hot rods screaming up Old Taos Highway, doing doughnuts in the Fort Marcy parking lot and drag racing. What is it going to be like when we start opening windows and doors, I shudder to think. Our neighborhoods need traffic-calming humps, speed vans and police who are willing to give out citations.
The subhead on your recent article about COVID-19 cases in Chile is incorrect and dangerously misleading (“Cases soar in Chile despite its speedy drive for vaccines,” March 31. The subhead was, “Experts say false sense of security led to vaccinated residents driving infections.” The subhead suggests vaccinations do not protect against COVID-19 and in fact can cause it to spread; this is dangerously incorrect. Vaccinated residents are not driving infections in Chile.
The article below the headlines identified three factors that are leading to the rise of COVID-19 cases in Chile. First, about one-third of Chileans have had at least one vaccine dose. That rate of vaccination is nowhere near enough to give the population herd immunity. We do not know for sure how many people need to be fully vaccinated before we reach herd immunity. I’ve read estimates from experts of 70 percent to 80 percent, but no one knows for sure. The true indicators will be sustained low levels of cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Second, the new COVID-19 variants are more contagious than the original virus. Thus, the variants of the virus will spread faster. Third, successful vaccination programs may encourage governments and the public to let down their guard too early — before herd immunity has been achieved. For instance, governments may reduce restrictions on public gatherings, people may stop wearing masks and social distancing. These actions can result in more infections.
Pamela Harper, M.P.H.
Little brown boxes
The other day as I drove along Interstate 25 between the St. Francis Drive and Cerrillos Road exits, I looked at all of those new houses and scoured ground, and the term “ticky-tacky” came to mind. Remember that song Malvina Reynolds wrote? “Little boxes on the hillside/Little boxes made of ticky-tacky.” And all the same. The Santa Fe boxes are bigger and shoulder to shoulder on small lots near the interstate — “Bigger boxes in developments/They’re all made of fake adobe now/Bigger boxes in developments/They look pretty much the same.” When Reynolds looked at the boxes on the hillside, she saw “a pink one … a green one … a blue one … and a yellow one.” When I looked at the boxes beside I-25, I saw “a brown one, a brown one and a brown one, etc.” And more coming. Why? It all reminds me of what Edward Abbey said: “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of a cancer cell.” Or the growth of ticky-tacky where Santa Fe used to be. The City Different is determined to become the same old, same old, one brown box at a time. With a view — if you’re lucky.
My fifth grader will return to full-time, in-person school after an incredibly difficult year of online learning. While virtual schooling may have worked for some children, my son had a hard time staying motivated and interested in school, and resisting the captivation of the screen when asked to be on a screen all day. He went from being an almost straight-A student who genuinely loved school to barely scraping by and feeling hopeless about the future. That’s a very sad thing to see in a once-carefree 11-year-old.
I want to thank his teacher, Brenda Juvrud, for coming back to the classroom despite having a broken ankle and needing to use crutches to get around on a daily basis. Thanks also to the school secretary, Peggy Cheeley, who stepped up to help us with our son’s care during the school day as his parents worked during virtual school. Thanks to our principal, Erica Maestas, who has taken Chaparral back to its roots as a small, neighborhood school where students and families feel they are part of a community of kindness. Thanks to Sharon Abrantes, also back in the classroom. She helped my son make the difficult transition to online learning in fourth grade. My four kids all have benefited from the many wonderful teachers at Chaparral over the past 10 years, and we look forward to seeing everyone back once vaccinated. We appreciate all of you.