BY TOM WRIGHT
The Heritage Foundation has done extensive data collection to track the spread and trend of COVID-19. Multiple graphs are available on the foundation’s website which show daily trends for the nation, states and counties. What is revealing about the Heritage study is that 1.6% of U.S. counties (50 counties) represent 24.9% of the national population and account for 52.3% of U.S. deaths, and 65.8% of the counties account for 10 or fewer deaths.
Clearly, this report demonstrates every place is different, based on multiple factors and calling for multiple responses.
An environmental scientist in Santa Fe, Devin Kennemore, has published a graph mapping all the COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, tests and deaths in New Mexico since our first infection was reported. Kennemore’s findings show hospitalizations have dropped since the first week in June and the daily death averages remained pretty level, and are now declining, despite the rise in reported cases. The rise in new cases is a result of increased testing and gives a false assumption we had a second wave, which we did not.
The media reports daily on collective data, which presents an imprecise conclusion of the actual daily circumstance. If one is to follow the science, one has to look at the data with a clearer understanding other than collectively, as it has been reported.
New Mexico is one of only three states still restricting indoor dining and yet we have one of the lowest infection rates per capita in the nation. While I am glad that is the case, restrictions on opening our economy come at a cost. The restaurant and food service industries represent 11% of our economy and employ 97,000 New Mexicans, most of whom are out of work.
Tourism is another major industry hard hit with travel restrictions placed on out-of-state travelers. and the restrictions placed on local tourist attractions and hotel closures. New Mexico Tourism Department spokesperson Cody Johnson told KRQE News he estimates a tourism shortfall of $6 billion in total spending for 2020. This amounts to a $300 million tax revenue loss. Currently, 55,000 New Mexicans are unemployed in the hospitality and tourism industries.
Of course, one is judged insensitive if he or she discounts the value of human life, but the psychological and economic damage to society for limiting businesses and schools through the governor’s All Hazard Emergency Management Act must also be considered.
While she says we must follow the science, she and her followers ignore many of the intangible costs of her executive mandates. The governor’s draconian restrictions have brought numerous lawsuits and a petition initiated by citizens to call for an extraordinary session of the legislature to limit the term of her powers. Speaker Brian Egolf does not favor such a session and, therefore, it probably won’t happen.
Therefore, total control will remain in the hands of the governor. I wonder if Mr. Egolf and the governor are really considering New Mexicans or Democrat politics?
Tom Wright lives in Santa Fe.