While Arizona struggles, New Mexico found a better path

Entering New Mexico from out-of-state

Arizona reopened rapidly in defiance of a novel coronavirus. It’s quickly become a canonical example of how not to respond to a pandemic. And you don’t have to look far for the tortoise to Arizona’s hare: New Mexico, its close neighbor in the Desert Southwest, has taken a more deliberate approach.

The two states start in a similar place, seen through early virus exposure. They end in a similar place, seen through levels of economic activity. But the slower, steadier path New Mexico followed differed in crucial ways. As did the human cost.

You can see it all in one statistic: Arizona has seen almost three times as many coronavirus cases as New Mexico, after adjusting for its much larger population. It’s one of the worst rates in the nation; a grisly illustration of the cost of reopening the economy without containing the coronavirus.

Our governor, here in New Mexico, starts off by being defined by bigots like Trump and his Trumplets…by three qualities they hate to deal with:

1. Michelle Lujan-Grisham is a Democrat.

2. She is a woman.

3. She is Hispanic.

The 4th quality is equally obvious. She’s smarter than Trump and his claque of dodo-birds.

15 thoughts on “While Arizona struggles, New Mexico found a better path

  1. Judas goat says:

    New Mexico official urges residents against wearing face masks for coronavirus protection — ‘I’m no medical expert’ https://www.nydailynews.com/coronavirus/ny-coronavirus-new-mexico-official-urges-residents-against-masks-20200722-le2idyhfavbfjcjsz6yvtcoqbm-story.html
    “Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin acknowledged he had no qualifications to comment on the efficacy of mandatory masks, admitting that he was neither a “rocket scientist” nor “medical expert,” but continued on to discourage the use of them anyway.
    “We have an immune system that keeps us from getting sick,” said Griffin, who is also the founder of the for-profit group, Cowboys for Trump.
    “The longer you wear the mask, the weaker your immune system is gonna be and the more susceptible you’re going to be to disease or viruses or bacteria or whatever.”
    There is no scientific evidence backing this claim, which also assumes that the only way for bacteria and other microbes to enter the body is by inhaling.”

    Green’s Dictionary of Slang traces the use of numbnuts, meaning “idiot” when used as a term of address, back to 1969. The term is a natural evolution from the term numbhead, which has been in use since the 18th century. https://greensdictofslang.com/

  2. p/s says:

    (07/25/20): An internal memo from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reveals coronavirus patients in Arizona were taken to New Mexico because of staffing shortages and a lack of hospital beds. https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/509053-internal-fema-memo-reveals-arizona-coronavirus-patients-taken-to-nm-over
    More than 4,190,400 people in the United States have been infected with the coronavirus and at least 146,300 have died, according to a New York Times database [July 26, 2020, 8:02 A.M. E.T.] https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html

  3. Norteño says:

    ‘We didn’t wait for the feds’: How New Mexico worked to contain Covid
    Covid-19 caught New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s eye in 2019.
    When the state reported three cases of Covid-19 in March, she declared a public health emergency, canceling state-run events and urging for other large gatherings to be shut down. Within a few days, the state had a drive-thru testing site setup. Now, New Mexico has kept its positive test rate down to around 3 percent — figures far lower than in neighboring Arizona and Texas, where the virus is popping up at more than 15 percent and 16 percent, respectively.
    Lujan Grisham served as the state’s health secretary for years before running for Congress and governor. She said the experience of dealing with public health campaigns, working with laboratories and other health facilities and handling infectious diseases helped prepared her to contend with Covid.
    “I saw this pandemic coming well before January, and we began to lay out a planning strategy, including drive through testing, so we didn’t wait for the feds,” Lujan Grisham told POLITICO on Wednesday before she spoke at the Democratic National Convention. “Not having a federal effort and response and strategy is malpractice.”

  4. Poco a poco says:

    “New Mexico reported just 76 more coronavirus cases Monday and two deaths, continuing a sharp downward trend in new infections over the last month.” (Albuquerque Journal 8/24/20) https://www.abqjournal.com/1489731/nm-reports-76-new-virus-cases-amid-downward-trend.html
    “Where The Latest COVID-19 Models Think We’re Headed — And Why They Disagree” (FiveThirtyEight updated Aug. 25, 2020, at 8:00 AM) https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/covid-forecasts/
    “U.S. Coronavirus Deaths Projected to Be Higher Than Soldiers Killed Fighting in WW2 (Newsweek 8/7/20) https://www.newsweek.com/coronavirus-death-projection-1523522

  5. Al mal paso, darle prisa says:

    “Using tech and circuit riding to beat the pandemic in New Mexico” https://nmpoliticalreport.com/2020/08/26/using-tech-and-circuit-riding-to-beat-the-pandemic/
    “Kelly Maestas and 10 other bus drivers are an integral component of the Cuba school district’s response to a global pandemic that mingles old-timey itinerant circuit-riding with 21st-century tech.
    Every day, the 11 bus drivers put close to 900 miles on their vehicles delivering food and education kits to the district’s more than 500 students who have yet to return to the classroom and in many cases, can not access the internet from home.
    Because so many Cuba students lack sufficient broadband or cellular service, the school district, which is larger than the state of Rhode Island, has distributed to every student special bracelets armed with a built-in USB-drive. Students use them to download lessons when they drive to an internet hotspot. Back home they can upload the lessons to their school district-supplied laptops while using materials from the education kits for non-internet based instruction.
    In addition to delivering education kits with books and other materials, the daily bus runs ensure students receive daily school meals in a district where more than 40% of families are on food stamps and 60% live below the poverty level.
    New Mexico is one of a handful of states in which more than 25 percent of students lack internet access at home. But the digital divide is worse for the state’s tribal communities.
    More than 40 percent “of people living on tribal lands lack access to broadband, with the deficit jumping to 68 percent for those living in rural areas,” according to a presentation given last week to a committee of the New Mexico Legislature.
    Drivers that spot serious issues, such as child abuse, are required to report back to the school which would then notify New Mexico Children Youth & Families Department. They also notify Cuba Cares if community members need clothes or food, and even update contact information for families that move. “They know the community inside and out,” Dominguez said of the district’s bus drivers. “Sometimes we don’t have the right information in the computer and numbers change, and they’ll be the ones to put the pieces together. They’re just a wealth of knowledge.”

  6. Reality ✓ says:

    “How New Mexico Controlled the Spread of COVID-19 : The state went after the disease with widespread testing and science-based targets. Now it is in better shape than its neighbors” (Scientific American 9/15/20) https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-new-mexico-controlled-the-spread-of-covid-19/
    To date, Arizona has had more than twice as many cases and nearly twice as many deaths as New Mexico has per 100,000 people. The latter state also has far fewer cases and deaths per 100,000 than Texas. https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#cases_totalcases
    In Arizona, the research team modeling the course of COVID-19 was instructed by Governor Doug Ducey’s administration to halt its work in early May—just as Ducey was directing widespread reopening around the state. The numbers that the team’s models were providing “did not match the reopening approach,” says University of Arizona infectious disease epidemiologist Saskia Popescu. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/arizona-halts-partnership-with-experts-predicting-coronavirus-cases-would-continue-to-mount/2020/05/06/d7a97c46-8fc2-11ea-a9c0-73b93422d691_story.html

  7. Apex predator says:

    “New Mexico’s average number of daily confirmed cases is above its goal for the first time since early August, the spread rate remains well above that goal—which led New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and her Human Services Department Secretary to urge New Mexicans to follow the state public health order, despite “COVID fatigue.”
    “We have sacrificed so much in this state. We’ve lost New Mexicans. We have folks with chronic illnesses,” Lujan Grisham said. “We have folks who can’t go back to work. We’ve lost businesses, family businesses that have been in the family for generations. We can’t let all the sacrifices we’ve made for each other to be in vain.”
    Southern and eastern New Mexico are two areas of concern for the state.
    “There’s a very large amount of activity along the eastern border along New Mexico and Texas, even more so in Texas, but of course we’re seeing it here,” N.M. Human Services Department Secretary Dr. David Scrase said “And Doña Ana County is also seeing a significant number of cases, with their cases per 100,000 going back into the red today as well.” https://nmpoliticalreport.com/2020/10/02/mlg-alarm-bells-should-be-going-off-over-nm-trending-in-wrong-direction-on-covid-19/?mc_cid=d979c7cafe&mc_eid=4b85ca587f
    “The Texas Department of State Health Services reports 5,335 new coronavirus cases Wednesday and an additional 107 deaths due to COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus. The state health department is also reporting another increase in hospitalizations.” https://www.nbcdfw.com/news/coronavirus/newly-reported-texas-virus-cases-top-5300-hospitalizations-up/2452951/

  8. Update says:

    “New Mexico to renew coronavirus restrictions, warning of more if cases continue to rise” https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/520900-new-mexico-to-renew-coronavirus-restrictions-warning-of-more-if-cases
    “The increases we’ve seen here are some of the worst in the entire United States this fall,” New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a release. “This kind of overwhelming and dramatic statewide spread signals one thing: Too many of us, succumbing to COVID fatigue, are no longer using those tools.”
    “Doña Ana County registers record weekly number of new COVID-19 cases” https://www.lcsun-news.com/story/news/2020/10/11/covid-19-dona-ana-county-registers-record-weekly-number-new-cases/5963149002/ The state recorded a milestone Monday, administering it’s 1 millionth COVID-19 test. But otherwise, it’s been week of setbacks for the state in its efforts to curb the spread of the SARS CoV-2 virus, cause of the COVID-19 disease.
    El Paso County in Texas — which borders Doña Ana County — also continues to see a sharp rise in new COVID-19 infections. The total number of new infections was 1,087 for Sunday and Saturday. That’s 30 percent more than the entire state of New Mexico over that two-day period.
    New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, at a news conference Thursday, warned of New Mexico becoming an “epicenter” if residents don’t take action.
    While the state’s case count remains low compared to the rest of the country, it saw a spike higher than other states from Sept. 22-29.
    New Mexico’s spike in new cases was the third highest in the country the last two weeks, New Mexico Human Services Secretary David Scrase said. https://www.lcsun-news.com/story/news/2020/10/09/governor-warns-nm-can-become-epicenter-after-negative-covid-19/5930997002/

  9. Update says:

    Amid virus spike, NM to impose new requirements on businesses (10/20/20) https://www.abqjournal.com/1508978/watch-live-governor-to-brief-public-on-virus-efforts.html
    Hospital capacity continues to be a concern in New Mexico as the COVID-19 virus spreads. https://www.kob.com/new-mexico-news/icu-bed-occupancy-climbs-to-71-in-new-mexico/5900508/ Dr. David Scrase, cabinet secretary of the New Mexico Human Services Department, said 81% of general hospital beds were occupied as of Oct. 20. ICU bed occupancy in New Mexico also climbed to 71%
    Hospitalization occupancy has gone up as New Mexico’s positivity rate also rose by 91% since Oct. 1. The seven-day test positivity rate in the state is 6.5%.

  10. Business as usual says:

    “COVID-19 is spreading at frightening speed. Don’t expect Arizona to do anything about it
    (Arizona Republic 11/14/20) https://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/elviadiaz/2020/11/13/covid-19-arizona-accelerating-but-dont-expect-leaders-act/6282041002/
    COVID-19 is escalating again in Arizona, but the state has all but given up fighting it.
    Arizona is open for everything with no statewide mask mandate, no stay-at-home orders and few business restrictions.
    Retail is open. Restaurant dining is open while bars are restricted in some areas. Beauty parlors and barbershops are open. So are casinos, movie theaters, pools, spas, gyms and water parks [along with funeral parlors]
    Meanwhile: “Arizona reported more than 3,000 new COVID-19 cases and 17 new known deaths on Friday as hospitalizations for the disease continued to rise to their highest levels since August.” https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-health/2020/11/13/arizona-coronavirus-nov-13-update-3-015-new-cases-17-new-known-deaths/6277469002/
    The state has reported 269,577 COVID-19 cases and more than 6,000 deaths, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. https://www.azdhs.gov/preparedness/epidemiology-disease-control/infectious-disease-epidemiology/covid-19/dashboards/index.php

  11. Update says:

    “Why the pandemic is drawing people to New Mexico” https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/working-4-the-future-why-the-pandemic-is-drawing-people-to-new-mexico/5931988/
    “According to a recent study from Business Insider and Hire A Helper, New Mexico was ranked second in the nation for having the most people move here during the pandemic. Idaho was No. 1. Another study from USA Today ranked Albuquerque 14th on a list of the top 20 cities seeing a boom in new residents.”

      • ¡Que viva! says:

        “How New Mexico became the country’s unlikely vaccination star : The sprawling state, one of the nation’s poorest, overcame the odds by keeping things simple.” https://www.politico.com/news/2021/04/12/new-mexico-vaccines-481064
        New Mexico in recent days became the state first to provide at least one dose to half of its adult population, and a nation-leading 38 percent of adults are fully vaccinated. It’s also among the top-performing states on equity: Over 26 percent of Blacks, 32 percent of Hispanics and 41 percent of Asians received at least one shot, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation review of the 41 states publicly reporting ethnic and racial data.
        “They are an exemplar,” said Georges Benjamin, the executive director of the American Public Health Association. “Their model works.”

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