We’re not doing too well as a society. Half of us think the sun rose this morning the other half want to argue the point. That same half that wants to argue whether the sun rose have turned fighting a deadly, prolific and cunning virus into a question of politics.
We’re not doing too well fighting that virus. When in April New Mexico had positive test rates in the lower hundreds per day, single digit daily deaths and hospitalizations around 100, the governor enacted what was viewed by many as draconian measures. She closed non-essential businesses, such as hair salons, bars, museums and limited access to houses of worship and restaurants.
All our numbers rose through June but in July we behaved and our infected numbers dropped precipitously. We were rewarded with more freedom and we blew it.
Today we’re way past those April rates. Tuesday the state had 2,112 positive cases. Rio Arriba Count accounted fro 49 of those cases. Both record-breaking numbers.
The governor on Nov. 13, after weeks of finger wagging, finally relented and repeated those April restrictions.
No one wants these restrictions in place but as a community we were/are doing a terrible job of fighting this virus. People are traveling at will, taking no responsibility for their irresponsible actions. People are gathering for parties, cook-outs and outings without a second thought.
We’ve fooled ourselves into thinking, “That’s my family so I’m safe around them.” Looking at some of the deaths around the state and country, we find families being decimated by inter-generational deaths: fathers and sons, sisters and brothers.
It appears, as you move through Espanola, we’re doing pretty well wearing masks and keeping proper distance. So when you see Rio Arriba County positive test result numbers increase almost daily, it points to bad behavior at home or at least out of the public’s view.
This leads to problems at work. Bad behavior at home, mingle with infected people, whether they know they are or not, then come back to work and suddenly, your bad behavior closes a business, costing people money, time, perhaps their jobs.
There’s also the commonly referred to, “mask fatigue,” or “virus fatigue.” We can’t succumb to that.
From the onset and through the summer, the virus was at a distance from us. Albuquerque, the Navajo Nation and Las Cruces had the problem. We were seeing the occasional one or two positive hits and enjoying days with zeros. So we dropped our guard.
Rio Arriba County’s much higher positive test results, hovering in the lower teens (before Tuesday), has our attention. People we know have been infected, or perhaps died. Stores we frequent, services we use or place we go have suffered positive tests inside their staff.
The Española Police Department just came off the state’s Rapid Response report. Several local restaurants and banks have been on the list. The infections at work don’t necessarily mean the people in the bank are infected, or at a restaurant. It was more than likely someone becoming infected at a function where risky behavior was the norm.
There are countries in the world that locked down for three weeks in April and have no or minimal infection. They’re living their lives normally because the population pulled together, masked up, stayed home and beat the virus.
For no good reason, politics has stopped the United States from slowing the virus. Our community is a reflection of that national trend.
We have an opportunity to chart our own economic recovery course. After the current two-week shut down, counties will reopen based on their own data, not overall state data. This means if we do our part and bring Rio Arriba County numbers down, we won’t be penalized by bad behavior in Albuquerque or Gallup. We could relatively quickly go beyond the restrictions we had during the fall, have more stores open, with fewer number restrictions. This would get more people back to work.
But that ideal situation can only come after we get our infection rates down. That’s up to us.
A vaccine for the average citizen is a long way away, with luck, April. We’re not “rounding the corner.” We’re getting worse daily. We have a long nasty winter ahead of us. It will be a little bit better if we’re not waiting to see who dies next. That will happen by everyone doing their part.
Put your politics aside and participate in your community’s fight against the virus.