Decades ago when I moved to California, I had to drive through a traffic checkpoint so officers could see if I was carrying any fruit from elsewhere into their state. It grew from a concern over fruit-borne diseases that could threaten California crops. In 1919, the town of Gunnison, Colo., successfully avoided the Spanish flu by posting the sheriff at the entrance to the town to stop any strangers from entering, on pain of going to jail. Just recently, New York disinvited travelers from Texas and other states with exploding coronavirus cases from flying into its airports. Now the European Union has barred all Americans from visiting because of our virus numbers.
If you drive anywhere in Santa Fe today, you will find the number of license plates from other states has grown substantially in recent weeks. Maybe now is the time for New Mexico officials to consider blocking people (at the borders) from Texas, Arizona, Louisiana and other high-disease states from visiting here. We have enough virus cases on our own without help from places that made the decision sometime ago to be less cautious than we. It seems there is plenty of “precedent” for New Mexicans to support what might seem to be an “unprecedented” step.
Good steps taken by the governor so far include asking visitors to quarantine themselves. But the suggestion has no teeth in enforcement or proof. So stopping the flow of visitors until the numbers improve is a drastic but far more realistic method of control.
Water at the center
A Peace Plaza. It’s time for the war monument to go from the Plaza. It could go to the directly adjacent New Mexico History Museum, where it would continue to serve its originally intended purpose. The nature of the Plaza has evolved since the monument was installed. There are now many different uses for the Plaza that reflect the cultural melting pot that makes Santa Fe unique. You all know them: Spanish Market, Indian Market, Folk Art Market parade, music, low riders, Fiesta de Santa Fe, the Pet Parade, arts and crafts fairs, gay pride and more. I would like to see a Fountain of Life that celebrates the most important resource of all, water. That’s what they did in New York in place of the World Trade Center. If you’ve been there, you know how powerful and clear its meaning is. It’s a universal symbol without controversy and debate. I don’t think our ancestors would have any objection to creating something new that reflects how we have evolved, healed and moved on. In another hundred years, let our descendants decide if we have made the right choice.
Know the science
As a family physician serving Santa Fe and Northern New Mexico for more than 32 years, I was surprised when I recently entered a busy Santa Fe family business and noticed no one was wearing a mask except for me. The owner told me she does not believe in masks. I offered her a scientific-based research article that provides evidence of airborne droplet transmission of the coronavirus. She said she did not want to read it and that “it is all politics.”
As I was leaving the store, she shouted out, “Community immunity, that’s what we need!” Community immunity, or population immunity, is a concept in epidemiology whereby after a large percentage of the population has become immune by infection or vaccination — 30 percent to 70 percent in the case of the coronavirus — the transmission of infection declines, thereby protecting non-immune individuals. Only 5 percent of the U.S. population is infected today, leading to some 2.8 million cases and more than 130,000 dead. Our health care system is already overwhelmed. To reach population immunity would require about 100 million infected. At the present rate, that would result in 2 million deaths.
Unfortunately, the reporters of false news who use scientific terms such as “community immunity” do not look up the definition, and thereby perpetuate the spread of false and dangerous information. Masks, like social distancing, have in fact been proven to decrease transmission of deadly infections. The unprecedented number of coronavirus cases and deaths in the United States is stunning evidence of what happens in a for-profit health system in a pandemic: profit over health and a blatant disregard for the principles of medical science. For the sake of your health and others, wear a mask.
Dr. Ron Press
Having it all
I read with interest Dave Larson’s piece on the car-free Plaza proposal (“This local wants a car-free downtown,” My View, June 28). Like him, I can see both sides of this issue. I think a car-free Plaza area is a great idea, for all the reasons given: safety, less noise and congestion, and a more pleasurable experience. And yet, the tradition of low-rider parades is so special to Santa Fe, and I am in awe of the work and dedication that goes into the building of these cars. It is a unique and valuable tradition!
Could we block off the Plaza streets as proposed and yet designate low-rider days, allowing for this amazing display to take place, perhaps once or twice a month?
A militia disease
New Mexico has a plague on top of the coronavirus. It’s the disease of the militia. These heavily armed lunatics showed their apathy to human life when they shot someone at an Albuquerque protest. Why are militia members allowed to wander rallies heavily armed in a city where being without a home is virtually a death sentence? This is not a request; this a demand for the law enforcement community: You will not allow them to walk around public places with an AK-47 when you barely let us walk around with signs. We do not traumatize children and plan assassinations, like the United Constitutional Patriots. We do not form a circle to protect murderers, like the New Mexico Civil Guard. The only place in New Mexico these groups belong is in jail. Nobody should be fighting for their life in a hospital because the cops are more respectful to nationalist thugs than to the public.
John Paul Donoghue
A new plaque
I want to commemorate a new plaque for the obelisk on the Santa Fe Plaza: The Santa Fe Plaza Incident of 2020.
“Let the people of New Mexico remember the day in June 2020 when the governor of New Mexico along with the mayor of Santa Fe together sent a crew of state workers in the middle of the night to remove this obelisk from the Plaza;
“Their action was a direct violation of federal and state laws protecting National Historic Sites and without the consent of the people of New Mexico and did also violate the people’s constitutional rights;
“This obelisk monument commemorates the men and women of New Mexico who fought for the Union and defeated the Texas Confederates, keeping New Mexico a free state.”
Considered needs of disabled
I would like to add one more viewpoint to the discussion over whether to close parts of San Francisco Street to vehicular traffic. For those of us who are disabled, navigating through downtown is already pretty tough. This may not be a good enough reason to keep the street open, but I hope that the city government does keep in mind the needs of residents whose mobility is already severely restricted.
Protect each other
There is so much to think about, grieve for and reflect on in recent events, including structural racism, health inequities, pandemic preparedness, police brutality and how to create a more just New Mexico, that it can be easy to overlook the significance of having heavily armed civilians in public spaces (“Man shot at Albuquerque demonstration over Oñate art piece,” June 15; “Former council candidate charged in protest shooting,” June 16). Specifically, the risk to all people present at protests and public gatherings could be decreased in the future by adopting commonsense legislation that restricts carrying firearms in public.
Scientific studies show that visible firearms may increase aggressive behaviors and that limiting the ability to publicly carry weapons can improve community safety. In addition to causing fear, visible firearms can create confusion for law enforcement officers — affecting public safety for officers, firearm owners and the general public.
Many states have legislation that restricts the ability to carry a firearm in public without violating the Second Amendment. But even if New Mexico is not yet ready to take that step, requiring training and a permit to hold a firearm in public, requiring firearms in public to be unloaded and severely limiting locations where carrying firearms are still steps in the right direction — and should be implemented.
I practice medicine in Albuquerque and previously did so in rural New Mexico, so I am sensitive to the fact people can have very different feelings about firearms. I am writing this armed with facts, but I also have feelings, too. As a physician who has taken care of countless patients affected by firearms violence, as a person whose own family has been repeatedly affected by firearms violence, and as the daughter, niece, cousin and goddaughter of police officers, I implore New Mexico to adopt legislative action to protect each other.
Dr. Eileen Barrett, M.P.H.
A huge loss
Permanent closure of the Genoveva Chavez Community Center ice rink would be a huge loss to the citizens of Santa Fe. This is one of the finest rinks in the U.S. The ice and its maintenance are excellent and the architectural environment is exceptional.
The rink attracts a highly diverse community, providing children and young people exercise and entertainment in a safe environment. The rink also supports a significant population of retirees with low-impact exercise year-round — great for seniors’ muscle tone, flexibility, balance and aerobic health. And then there is the dedicated competitive figure skating community ranging from elementary school kids to senior citizens and their fine coaches; the Learn to Skate program; the hockey teams; and the many tourist families from around the world. A very special experience for me was skating with a class of Jemez Pueblo high school kids during their first experience on ice.
Buena Vista, Colo.