Within three days last week, Governors John Carney of Delaware, Dan McGee of Rhode Island, Kathy Hochul of New York, Steve Sisolak of Nevada, Jay Inslee of Washington and J.B. Pritzker of Illinois all announced they were ending their mandares.
They followed Democratic governors in California, Connecticut, New Jersey, Oregon and Colorado who have all recently announced an end to mandates in their states.
In New Mexico, it was announced earlier this month that mandates will remain in place at least through March 4, making ours the only state other than Hawaii not to have set an end date for the mandate.
“We all really want to stop the mask mandate. But, masks are effective, the state is still in hot water and we don’t really want to do that until we feel that everyone will be safe,” explained Health Secretary David Scrase.
That’s going to be a long wait, as there will never be a time when everyone will be safe from this virus, at least not in the foreseeable future. And, there is nothing in our case numbers, hospitalizations or death rates that suggest we need to be alone in keeping more stringent restrictions than all other states.
To be clear, Lujan Grisham is complying with current guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, which continues to say that it’s too soon to lift the mandates. Governors in other states have made the political calculation that forced compliance has run its course, and can not become our new way of life.
And I think they’re right.
I appreciate the governor’s dilemma. If this were truly an epidemic of the unvaccinated, as many claim, It would be a much easier call. We shouldn’t restrict freedoms in order to protect those who are able but unwilling to protect themselves.
But the unvaccinated aren’t the only ones dying from the virus. Those fully vaccinated who are elderly or have health conditions that reduce their ability to combat the virus are also at risk.
It is sadly apparent now that the Summer of Freedom declared by Joe Biden in August, 2021 was his “Mission Accomplished” moment of premature celebration. None of us know what new strain will appear next, and what new challenges it will bring. But it seems certain that we will be living with this for some time. Especially given the cultish fear of vaccinations caused by more than two years of lies and misinformation..
Compliance with mandatory face-mask rules was difficult to achieve even in the early days of the pandemic. Which is a sad indictment on modern attitudes toward community and the concept of everyone pitching in for the common good.
But, it’s also true that face-mask guidelines from the CDC have been confusing and inconsistent. And, after nearly two years of living with the mandates, patience is running out, even among those who want to do the right thing.
From the start, Gov. Lujan Grisham has been more assertive than most of her peers in combating the virus. That difference has now become glaring. It’s time for New Mexico to join with the rest of the country and end this mandate.
Walter Rubel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Listen to the audio version.