In March 2020, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham took control of our lives with the stroke of her pen. At the time, she assured us her administration’s limitless power was accountable to “the science” and that she would use data to drive her policies. As we emerge from the pandemic, the questions on my mind are: Were the governor’s draconian restrictions effective, and were they actually based on science? Recent statistics and revelations from the Department of Health suggest they were not.

Despite having the toughest lockdown and masking restrictions in the country, New Mexico ranks 14th in COVID-19 deaths per capita. Further, during a February hearing, the governor’s Health Department secretary testified to what many New Mexicans already suspected. The Rio Grande Foundation published the transcript of the hearing and highlighted some key insights from the testimony. This is what we learned:

The Department of Health did not consider the economic impact of lockdowns in crafting its public health orders.

  • DOH cannot explain why Florida and Texas, which are not locked down, have lower COVID-19 fatality rates than New Mexico.
  • DOH does not take into consideration other adverse health impacts, like increased depression, suicide and childhood obesity in crafting the orders.
  • The health secretary placed significant reliance on her department’s legal staff when crafting the public health orders. She does not know if any of those lawyers have any training or education in public health.
  • The secretary is unaware of any scientific studies that support the specific restrictions, prohibitions and permitted activities under the public health orders.
  • The secretary cannot say whether the risk from COVID-19 must be zero before the orders will end.

The bottom line is New Mexicans suffered because of our governor’s unwillingness to let go of her power and listen to the science. As recently as last week, commonsense considerations such as recovered positive cases were still not considered part of a county’s level of immunity. Now, in an apparent admission of her failed policies and reopening framework, the governor wants to fully reopen in July.

I’d like to look beyond the economic decimation caused by the public health orders. I believe the true invisible enemy of the past year was not COVID-19 but fear and distrust of one another. Our governor was so fixated on politics and power that she infected our state with a fear and disenfranchisement epidemic that will outlast the pandemic for years to come. This contagious fear and distrust of our fellow New Mexicans will take decades if not generations to overcome.

Sadly, there is no remediation or vaccine that can mitigate the effects of the “Lujan Lockdown” on our state. Our only hope is to hold this governor accountable at the ballot box. Vote for leaders who will heal the wounds this administration has left on our economy and society.

We know which party has wrecked New Mexico. We’ve got 100 years of case study of what doesn’t work. Now it’s time for the people of New Mexico to follow the data — unlike what I believe this governor did — and chart a new course.

State Sen. Cliff Pirtle, a Republican, represents District 32 — Chaves, Eddy and Otero counties.

(8) comments

Tom Braniff

censorship is alive & well i see. thanks for the demo.

Tom Braniff

Well done Sir.

COVID--a mild flu--is a fact-free scandal devoid of science. PCR, the test on which case & death numbers are all based is scientifically invalid for diagnosing any disease, according to its own inventor, Dr Kary Mullis.

I am thinking of moving to New Mexico but reading here that it had the toughest lockdowns in the country has given me major reservations. Probably a deal killer. The other comments here sound like they haven't read your article or digested your clear point. Lockdowns do not work. Sweden, Japan, Texas & Florida all prove this.

My question is whether the people of New Mexico see through the irrationality or whether they comply unquestioningly. I prefer to be in a state where people can think for themselves and mount a movement. I would be happy to receive a reply to this question.

Thank you & regards.

Mike Johnson

Yes, the typical NM voter is present in these comments. And shows the reason NM is last in most all categories of anything and elects the most worthless politicians in the US. They act as they they are living in the State of Denial, and not reality.

Tom Braniff

Hi Mike. Is the grassroots in New Mexico opposed to the lockdowns? Is there any organized resistance to this? How do you think the next elections will play out, and do you think the next (inevitable) wave will be met with more informed opposition to state dictates? Thank you.

Tom Braniff

Sorry, I misread your comment. You are saying the typical voter supports--or at least doesn't question--the governor's edicts. My bad.

Harvey Morgan II

There is a lot of irony exposed in this "my view". Now the Republicans want to use science? And then to criticize using fear to rally the citizens?

Dennis McQuillan

The purpose of lockdowns, masking and social distancing is to reduce Covid-19 infections. The fact that New Mexico’s infection rate of 9,627 per 100,000 people is lower than that of Florida (10,731 per 100,000) and Texas (10,140 per 100,000) demonstrates the success of Governor Lujan Grisham’s rigorous science-based efforts to reduce infection rates in New Mexico.

Once people are infected with Covid-19, however, other risk factors such as limited access to health care can influence death rates. It is well known that poverty is a significant risk factor for death from heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. It is not surprising, therefore, that people living in poverty are also at higher risk of suffering severe illness, and death, from Covid-19. In New Mexico, 18.2 percent of the population lives in poverty, compared with 12.7 percent in Florida and 13.6 percent in Texas. New Mexico’s Covid-19 death rate of 197 per 100,000 is greater than that of the less impoverished states of Florida (170 per 100,000) and Texas (177 per 100,000).

The bottom line is that public-health intervention by Governor Lujan Grisham and her administration prevented many new infections, suffering, and deaths from Covid-19 among the people of New Mexico. Covid-19, having already killed more than 7 million people worldwide, underscores the need to address public-health injustice in the ongoing reckoning, dialog and solutions to create civil equality in the United States and elsewhere.

Paul Groh

Cliff, the effect of a “lockdown” will be far less than those of death and disability from rampant COVID. Our governor did a fine job of keeping New Mexicans safe during the pandemic.. and the outstanding co-operation of our citizens with measures designed to keep others safe as well as ourselves..is called patriotism. A word perhaps not well understood by your crowd of COVID deniers and Trumpists. You ought to be ashamed of yourself for such a public announcement of your selfishness..

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