COVID Counterpunch

Gov. Expects Full Mask Mandate Indoors, Regardless of Age, Vax Status

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Office of the New Mexico Governor

For a governor who claims her COVID response was “based on the science,” her latest directives prove not only unscientific but logically inconsistent.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said this week she will require State of New Mexico employees to be vaccinated or submit to twice-monthly COVID testing as a condition of employment, punishable by termination for anyone who refuses.

Ironically, less than a week after mandating masks for all elementary students and any unvaccinated middle or high school children, as well as teachers, as a condition of returning to school, the governor isn’t applying the testing aspect of this latest vaccination mandate to teachers. 

But what she lacks in balls she makes up for in fear-mongering rhetoric: “We’re not safe if we’re not vaccinated,” Lujan Grisham said in a news conference at the Capitol. “It’s as simple as that.”

That turns out not to be true either. A recent CDC study found that 74% of people infected in a Massachusetts outbreak were fully vaccinated, including four of five people who were vaccinated. Cases have soared to pre-vaccine levels — with Friday reaching a 7-day average matching the highs in the first week of February 2021, when virtually no one was vaccinated — not because of the unvaccinated, but because the new Delta variant has shown to be more resistant to vaccines.

The CDC’s new masking recommendations are based on “science” showing that vaccinated and unvaccinated carry the same viral loads. With 70% of the country with at least one shot, it would be logically impossible for an ever-shrinking minority of the population to cause a spike in cases to pre-vaccine levels.

Despite blaming the recent spike on the unvaccinated, another study showed that vaccinated people in England were 65% more likely to be hospitalized and 1,540% more likely to die, according to Public Health England.

Not only is the governor exempting schools from her executive order, but she won’t be setting occupancy limits on private businesses, either.

(For the record, The Conservative New Mexican opposes all mandates, for masking, vaxxing, or limiting business. We are merely pointing out the stark difference in the governor’s rhetoric versus her action.)

As reported by the Albuquerque Journal, Lujan Grisham “hopes” the state employee mandate “will be an example to private employers and other public agencies,” but the executive order, which takes effect Monday, doesn’t apply to businesses. 

“Despite the spike in COVID-19 cases, the governor said she doesn’t expect New Mexico to reimpose capacity limits on businesses.” 

— Albuquerque Journal, July 29, 2021

Another irony is her cabinet’s oddly inconsistent and completely unscientific use (or non-use) of masks. During a 75-minute press conference, everyone at the table appeared to be wearing a mask. However, they were allowed to remove their masks when speaking.

Perhaps it’s unclear exactly how COVID spreads, but if common sense escapes the governor, perhaps she could read the study by the National Institutes of Health, run by Dr. Anthony Fauci, which used laser imagery to show that as many as 360 droplets can be spread in 17 milliseconds simply by talking. 

It was Dr. Fauci himself who said last year (thanks to an email made public this year) that, “The typical mask you buy in the drug store is not really effective in keeping out [the] virus, which is small enough to pass through the material.

“It might, however, provide some slight benefit in [keeping] out gross droplets if someone coughs or sneezes on you.”

— Dr. Anthony Fauci, February 05, 2020

While not wearing a mask indoors, the governor told a room full of people, “I can be a carrier of the Delta variant — not likely but not impossible. We know that, and out of an abundance of caution everyone should be masked as often as you can indoors.”

The governor’s mandate thus far is as toothless as the president’s, who, rather than just mandating vaccinations nationally, announced Thursday that federal employees and contractors will have to attest to vaccination status — not even prove it — or submit to weekly COVID testing. 

That said, the governor was clear that she anticipates more draconian measures in due time, for teachers and students, regardless of grade level, regardless of vaccination status.

“I expect the CDC to say everyone wear a mask in indoor environments, in schools in particular, and we will follow suit immediately. I don’t have that [directive yet], but I won’t be unabashed in making that a quick turnaround requirement.”

In New Mexico, leadership is talking a big game, pretending to know what constitutes science, and waiting for your Democratic Party overlords to tell you what to do.

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