First, it was red, yellow, green, now it’s yellow, turquoise, green. And New Mexico is still pretty much locked down for the most part, with occupancy limits still in place and unemployment numbers creeping up.
Despite counties being gradually pushed toward fewer restrictions, many New Mexicans are still without jobs and despite less cruel regulations being pushed upon the people of the state, businesses are barely making ends meet.
The crisis is being noticed by two state lawmakers who are demanding Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham quit the color-coded plan and just reopen the state, trusting citizens and businesses to do what is best for communities–not bureaucrats.
State Sen. William Sharer (R-San Juan) and state Rep. Rod Montoya (R-San Juan) sent a scathing letter to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.
In the letter, the two lawmakers wrote that the “Red to Green Framework” adopted by the Lujan Grisham administration is “outdated and erroneous,” noting how three counties, San Juan, Hidalgo, and Guadalupe, were downgraded to yellow status despite the three counties combined only having 12 cases of COVID-19 in the 14-day reporting period.
“Needless to say, these downgrades will have a tremendous and hugely negative impact on our communities and the local small businesses still struggling to survive. Many of them managed to weather the uncertainties of the pandemic only to experience even more uncertainty in its wake. The latest update further underscores the flaws of the ‘Red to Green Framework,’ specifically the use of positive tests as a percentage of total tests,” wrote the two state lawmakers.
Montoya and Sharer noted how even Dr. David Scrace, the Governor’s secretary of Health and Human Services raised questions about the efficacy of positivity rates playing into reopening status.
In late March, according to the lawmakers, Scrase said, “We’ve been thinking about this test positivity rate over the last six weeks, and raising the question — Will we be able to continue relying on test positivity rate as a measure of the safety of a community or the measure of the disease activity now that we have vaccines on the scene?”
“Instead of a positivity rate calculated as a percentage of tests, we should be looking at positive tests as a percentage of a county’s population,” proposed Montoya and Sharer. “Consider San Juan County, for instance. Today, the County had just six COVID hospitalizations and 17 total COVID cases. Those total cases represent just 0.00013 of the County’s total population.”
“The reason for this low infection rate is clear. Over 70 percent of the people in San Juan County have been partially or fully vaccinated, and roughly 10 percent of the population contracted the virus and recovered. Based on these figures, San Juan County has likely reached ‘herd immunity.’ Why then would we continue to measure positive tests against total tests when over 70 percent of the population no longer need to test?”
The lawmakers pled with the Governor to reconsider her reopening formula, saying, “Earlier this week, Dr. Scrase again spoke of correcting the framework and taking into account vaccination rates. The fact is, this should have been done weeks ago and we urge you to put an end to the delay. Too many hardworking New Mexicans and small businesses are hanging on by a thread. It is time to reopen our state.”
No response has yet been reported by the Governor’s office, however, if she does respond, it will be added to this story.