Based on New Mexico’s 2003 Public Health Emergency Response Act, and the All Hazard Emergency Management section of our state Constitution, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham declared such an emergency in March 2020 and has renewed the declaration every 30 days for two years. The emergency powers seized by the executive under these circumstances are sweeping, as we have all painfully experienced. The executive order was issued and reissued at the sole discretion of the governor, “in consultation” with the secretary of the Department of Health, whom she appoints, and unfettered by any lawfully mandated approval by the legislative branch.
Pandemics have been a recurring issue throughout human history, coming around reliably about every 100 years. Never before, however, have uninfected people been quarantined. I need not remind New Mexicans about the profound effects these prolonged lockdowns have had on our economy, the education of our children, and our collective physical, emotional and mental health. We were told initially the intention was to “flatten the curve,” preserve medical resources, and any sacrifice was warranted in order to save lives. We were assured lockdowns would accomplish these goals.
A vaccine that had not undergone the normal amount of FDA scrutiny was brandished at us. State government required employees to take the vaccination. An aggressive campaign to induce vaccination was begun in early 2021. … The jury is still out on long-term side effects. The total price paid by New Mexicans as a consequence of the onerous response to the pandemic may take years to tally, but there are grim facts surfacing already.
In January, the results of a comprehensive study conducted at Johns Hopkins University that evaluated the effectiveness of lockdowns at reducing COVID mortality rates was released. The results? The lockdowns had no effect. As hard as that is to digest, consider this: life insurance companies have disclosed recently that there was a 40% increase in death rates among Americans aged 18-64 in the third quarter of 2021, compared to the pre-pandemic year of 2019. Normally, this rate fluctuates by only a percentage point or two from year to year. A 10% increase is a once-in-200-year event. A 40% increase has never been seen and is deeply disturbing. Most of these deaths are not COVID classified. This increase came a year and a half into the pandemic and followed on the heels of the vaccine rollout that began in early 2021. Further study will elucidate more clearly the causes, but the long-term effects of COVID lockdowns and/or the vaccine itself are potentially implicated.
What will ensuing quarterly mortality rates show? The COVID pandemic brought unavoidable, grievous losses to New Mexicans in the form of loved ones lost. Unfortunately, it appears the losses were compounded, rather than mitigated, by the heavy-handed response. What can we learn, and what actions should we take as the pandemic becomes endemic? I suggest the following:
1. Under no circumstances should New Mexicans tolerate another lockdown in response to COVID.
2. The Legislature should amend the law, to moderate the governor’s power, requiring legislative approval of any emergency declaration within 30 days.
3. The current administration has mangled the pandemic response. The governor is undeserving of a second term.
Terry McMillan MD is a former Republican member of the New Mexico House of Representatives and chair of the House Health Committee 2015-2016.