Goodman: Restricting COVID-19 safety precautions is the government’s real excess

Commentary: MP Yvette Herrell gives a tragic example of putting ideology (or political convenience) ahead of the well-being of her constituents.

There is a Delta-fueled COVID-19 resurgence, particularly where vaccination rates are lagging behind. The Delta variant is more contagious and can also cause more serious infections.

I called Herrell’s office on Friday to ask why she introduced a bill to deprive schools of federal money for making the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory. (This could deprive the UNM and NMSU of hundreds of millions of dollars. Both have ordered nearly all faculty, staff, and students to be fully immunized by September 30 (or take weekly COVID-19 tests) for access university programs and facilities in person.)

When a young man named Riley responded, I asked why Herrell would introduce such a bill. “Because it is not fair to force school children” to take such preventive measures when science says that students are not at great risk from COVID-19. “So this won’t apply to NMSU and UNM?” It would. “Why?” Riley replied, “We are already emerging from the pandemic successfully.”

In Florida, where the governor bans cities and businesses from requiring masks or vaccines, the daily COVID-19 infection rate is higher than ever. As of May 1, the death toll per million people in the United States was about 1.5, in both highly vaccinated and less vaccinated counties. Between May 1 and early July, both death rates declined. Then, the rate in counties with low vaccination rates fell from about 0.8 to 2.0 between early July and August 1, compared to 0.3 in counties with more highly vaccinated. Yes, a few humans per million isn’t much, but six times the death rate?

In early July, Biden announced door-to-door visits to educate citizens about the safety, efficacy and availability of vaccines. Herrell wrote to her complaining that it would “force individuals” to be vaccinated, which public health officials and sheriffs did in 1918. Herrell’s website emphasizes the right of fetuses to born, but asks Biden to identify “constitutional and statutory authority” for the door-to-door effort. Our Constitution is silent on abortion, which was not uncommon in the 18th century, but requires the government to “promote the general welfare” of citizens.

When I asked Riley why he thought we were “successfully” emerging from the pandemic, he said, “herd immunity is happening and the hospitalization rate is going down.” Most authorities I have read say that we are NOT yet achieving herd immunity because the vaccination rates of 50-70% are not high enough. The vaccination rate is 65.1% in New Mexico, but 50% or less in several CD-2 counties. A “leader” could promote general well-being through vaccination; but Herrell doesn’t because “it’s a personal choice.”

It’s personal ; but making this personal choice can put others at risk. More than 3,500 health workers died from COVID-19 in the first year. Does not MP Herrell give them and their families a major? When I asked Riley if he wanted to say anything more to explain the congressman’s actions, he said, “It’s about not letting the government go too far. “

Riley was polite and responsive; but the conversation reminded me that he and Yvette live in a world very different from mine. I invited Herrell to speak with me on the radio and I hope she takes the opportunity to explain why she thinks the dangers of COVID-19 have largely passed and why she doesn’t encourage people to take measures to help their neighbors.

And why immunization is “a personal choice” when women’s health choices are the business of government.


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Susan W. Lloyd

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