Days before the president offered guidelines to restart the economy, the New Mexico Business Coalition hatched its own plan, which it calls a “safe, sensible and incremental plan to get New Mexico back to work.”
NMBC, a small right-leaning group, doesn’t say who came up with its plan or how. It has some blind spots you could drive an ambulance through.
Meanwhile, the Association of Commerce and Industry, the state’s mainstream business organization, which has the standing to author a reopening plan, has focused on making sure its members are informed about federal and state programs. And it’s working with the governor.
While some demonstrate to “liberate” their county or state, Susan Clark, president of the U. S. Chamber, said Sunday on “Face the Nation,” “We can't get back to work until we get back to health.”
NMBC takes issue with the closure of so-called nonessential businesses, which also meet needs, provide jobs, and pay taxes. They’re struggling to survive, and some will be unable to reopen. No argument there.
Then the group suggests reopening businesses and outdoor recreational facilities at 20 percent occupancy, with masks and social distancing and increasing capacity after the virus peaks until everything is completely open by June 1.
The president’s plan also calls for reopening in phases, with protections, social distancing, and limitations on capacity, each phase to progress as long as there’s no resurgence in the disease. Before reopening, a state would have to show a two-week decrease in cases.
We all want to restart the economy, but timing is tricky. So many New Mexicans are abiding by the stay-at-home order that the expected surge date and peak have moved forward. Genuine healthcare experts and people with M. D. after their names – not politicians – now say the coronavirus won’t be short-lived. They talk in months and not weeks.
In support of its plan, NMBC cites data from the University of Washington, which has lowered its projected death rates. But other experts, including our own, discount this data as far too low. NMBC claims the Washington model, “which analyzes data from every state as well as other countries, should be trusted and utilized in projecting what is likely to happen in New Mexico. It is neither necessary nor good practice to isolate modeling for New Mexico while always highlighting extreme worse case scenarios.”
Really? Says who? NMBC cites no authorities.
Dr. David Scrase, secretary of the Human Services Department, and his team of number crunchers created a model tailored to New Mexico. It factors in our vulnerabilities (older population, more underlying conditions, poverty, and so forth). The University of Washington doesn’t. The state’s numbers are higher and more credible, but inconvenient for NMBC’s argument.
NMBC argued, “Because we have good data and greater testing capabilities, we know that New Mexico is doing well in handling the crisis.”
That’s a curious argument. New Mexico is doing well SO FAR in handling the crisis. We have more testing than most states because the governor and her administration have pursued it relentlessly, but we need a lot more testing. If you’re keeping up with the news, you know that inadequate testing is an issue nationwide.
Here’s the thing about testing. It tells experts and elected officials where the disease is and how many people are at risk. It draws a picture. If sufficient testing demonstrates that your county has few cases, no new cases, and low risk, then you can talk about reopening.
NMBC claims to have the only plan for reopening, but in press briefings the governor has said her administration is working on a plan and that it’s harder than it looks.
The state’s orders are brutal, but ignoring them could trigger a second wave of the virus. Leave your foxhole too soon and you become a target.