On July 7, 2021, news reports claimed McKinley County reached a 100% vaccination rate.
For those who don’t guzzle the COVID Kool-Aid and believe everything the government says, this seemed unlikely on its face.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (or whoever runs her social media) wasn’t among them.
She tweeted, “Congratulations McKinley County! Thank you for leading the way forward & being an incredible partner in our vaccination efforts.”
Here at The Conservative New Mexican, we challenged the governor’s endorsement, writing, “If this is true, you should be sending it to every major media outlet in the country, because it appears we would be the first to accomplish such a feat.”
By day’s end, the governor’s tweet was deleted.
Since July 7, McKinley County has recorded 35 new cases of COVID and about 10 deaths, according to CDC data. If McKinley is 100% vaccinated, or at least partially, as was originally claimed, all 35 new cases and deaths would have occurred in vaccinated residents.
It turns out the data was flubbed.
McKinley County actually stopped tracking vaccinations in May, leaving it up to the state, but even before that their tracking was “pretty informal,” according to Adam Berry of the McKinley County Emergency Management Department.
“So we were doing a pretty informal tracking, the McKinley County Office of Emergency Management with our partners in conjunction with our weekly coordination calls we were doing just have a rough idea of where we’re at with our vaccine numbers, because we felt there was some discrepancies early-on with some of the state numbers, so we started to do an internal track.”— Adam Berry of the McKinley County Emergency Management Department.
State Sen. George Munoz (Democrat, District 4) added: “Somehow the feds and the state were double-counting those inoculations and then getting it to 100%.” According to KRQE, “Sen. Munoz said he does not know the real number of people in McKinley County who have one shot.”
“Double-counting” seems to be an under-estimation. Despite bribing New Mexicans with $10 million in a “Vax 2 the Max” sweepstakes and $100 per person for getting vaccinated, state data from July 7 showed less than 39% of residents were partially vaccinated in McKinley County.
That number jumped to 94.4% as of July 19, according to the state.
How (or if) McKinley County went from 39% vaccinated to 94% in a couple of weeks is anyone’s guess. And it’s unknown at this point exactly what caused the error or whether the botched vaccination tracking was isolated to just this one county.
According to New Mexico’s COVID tracker, McKinley County had the third-highest number of COVID cases in the state since the pandemic started, at 12,457, as of July 16, 2021.
The skeptical among us have wonder if those numbers, too, were double-counted.
Whatever the actual data shows — assuming accurate data even exists — the blunder helps explain why so many people are skeptical of the government’s claims not only about COVID vaccination rates but case counts in general, and not only in New Mexico but nationally.
As of this writing, Lujan Grisham hasn’t addressed the discrepancies.
“Between The Lines” is a series featuring fictional headlines of real events.