In such a polarized political environment, where you stand on vaccines, masks, and the state or federal government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic depends largely on your political ideology.
Even the raw data is partisan, interpreted as fact or fiction, indisputable or biased, depending on who it benefits.
The truth is, there is no way to accurately rank all of the factors that contribute to COVID statistics.
Do testing and vaccinations reduce the rate of transmission and ultimately death in a state? Logically yes, and yet of all of New Mexico’s neighboring states, New Mexico ranked highest in testing and vaccines and still had the nation’s 13th highest death rate.
Could it have been worse if New Mexico didn’t perform so well in testing or push vaccinations as hard as we did? Probably, but if we far surpassed Texas (38th in testing) and Colorado (49th) despite a significantly higher fatality rate, how much does demographics and resident health play compared to government policies?
And what of the peripheral effects of state-wide lockdowns?
New Mexico has stricter COVID lockdown protocols than our neighbors, and while statistics haven’t fully captured their effect, lockdowns have been linked to higher rates of suicide, alcoholism, drug overdoses, and domestic violence.
These may not be causal, just as the national rise in homicides cannot be solely attributed to more than a year living in relative isolation (and for some, extreme fear), but it cannot be ruled out as a contributing factor.
However the statistics are interpreted, basing opinions on facts is better than blind partisanship.
For New Mexico’s part, we did better than most states in testing and vaccinations even if other states did better on overall death rates. Regardless of party affiliation, those are the facts.
As for the opinions about the effectiveness of mandatory masking and vaccination campaigns, we’ll leave that up to the individual to decide.