Nation needs universal health data collection system | Letters To Editor

The recent story (“Hospitalizations underreported in New Mexico,” July 30) describing our hospitals as “struggling to adapt to the changes in reporting procedures required by Washington,” points out the risks of taking away the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s accepted role in disease reporting — and making such changes in the middle of a crisis. But even more vividly, it points out the failure of our health care system in managing data that is critical for public health. This information should be available entirely electronically, without putting burdensome data entry and reporting requirements on our already-stretched hospital staff.

The nation needs a universal, cloud-based system for public health data, with comprehensive availability and security no less than that of the financial sector and other high-consequence sectors in our connected world. A recently released report ( by independent scientists who were members of President Barack Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (including us in New Mexico) describes how to accomplish this. The health data infrastructure can readily be strengthened, something urgently needed to manage the next stages of COVID-19, to be prepared for future public health crises and to improve the functioning of our health care system every day.

Maybe we should think about adopting the winning strategies of the likes of Mahatma Ghandi, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela in trying to deal with the escalating political fight we are in. Fighting fire with fire is a losing strategy. The winner is probably going to be the one with the biggest flame thrower (pun intended) and the likely result is burning the house down no matter who wins.

A better approach for dining

As a devoted fan of Santa Fe’s abundance of excellent restaurants, but also a knowledgeable advocate of epidemiological research, I am dismayed by the unnecessary divide that has developed between public health policy and restaurant owners. I refuse to believe that owners care little about the safety of their customers or the health of their staff. The unhappy truth is that most Santa Fe restaurants have inadequate space for social distancing in kitchens, patios and dining areas for healthy food service. This is the major problem that has not been fairly acknowledged nor has it been approached as a design necessity.

Isn’t it possible for restaurant owners to face this problem and work cooperatively to solve the intricacies of this very serious challenge to Santa Fe’s economy? People! Come up with plans and solutions rather than wasting your time in threats and anger.

How are we supposed to trust law enforcement? This Napoleon-complex Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales refuses to hold his deputies accountable by prohibiting the use of lapel cameras. Officers from the Lea County Sheriff’s Department are violating gathering and mask orders by going out 10 strong to eat in a restaurant, without any concern, under the guise of supporting local businesses. Order carryout.

Some 80 percent or more of police departments around the country are fighting any kind of police reform. The supposed untainted apples are covering for the bad apples. There is no national database to track unethical law enforcement officers who move from department to department, otherwise known as wandering cops. Police unions shield their members from any repercussions from all levels of misconduct, even murder, with the help of state, city and county administrations.

Look, I get that policing is a career, job and responsibility that I could never understand. But in my 52 years I’ve seen generation after generation of too many really bad cops and when I see this, my heart feels for the really good ones who are still fighting the good fight.

I read with deep concern about the violence perpetrated by several federal law enforcement agencies against peaceful protesters in Portland, Ore., that resulted in the seizing and detaining without probable cause protesters and the shooting of Donavan La Bella, critically injuring him. I read with hope that Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum is filing suit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Federal Protection Service.

I want to strongly recommend that we urge all governors and attorneys general of other states to join in that suit. Here in New Mexico, I urge Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. We can’t let Portland or the state of Oregon stand alone. These are moral national issues, and we can’t let the federal government forces divide and conquer us, picking off one city at a time. As Rosenblum said, “If this can happen in Portland, it can happen anywhere.”

Due to COVID-19, my lovely parents — like so many others — have been in lockdown in a senior facility since March. My parents both have dementia, and my sister and I have been their anchor for many years. With our companionship they experienced joy, laughter and ease; they embraced life. Since lockdown, they have dramatically deteriorated. My father is now on hospice care for failure to thrive. My mother is confused about what’s happening to her husband of 63 years. All they know is that they have been abandoned.

All of our seniors in facilities are suffering at this time. Those with dementia and/or dying are enduring particularly harrowing experiences. They need family members for the aid, comfort, enrichment and love only they can provide.

In light of the current reality that the pandemic is not going to subside soon, other states have successfully modified their public health orders to allow essential family members to resume safe visitation in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. The Alzheimer’s Association and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services strongly advocate such changes. It’s time our governor and the secretary of the Department of Health — so often at the forefront of COVID-19 response — follow suit so our elderly are treated with the dignity and humanity they deserve.

Restaurants are having a very tough time surviving, and we should do everything possible to help them. However, our city public officials think otherwise. Instead of helping Plaza Cafe, they have removed extra tables from outside that location. In addition, John Muñoz, director of the city Parks and Recreation Department, declined to respond to questions about the action. I request and expect the mayor to intervene and reverse this decision.

I have to point out that it is very inconsiderate of the July 24 Pasatiempo to use an image of the Contemporary Hispanic Market along Lincoln Avenue to illustrate the crowds at Spanish Market and never even mention Contemporary Hispanic Market by name. Nice crowd, though!

This scourge of COVID-19 is a long-term problem, not an emergency. We are still trying to eradicate the common cold and influenza viruses. Home deliveries and empty theater seats will persist. To regain consumers, entrepreneurs must be free to innovate, unrestricted by broad edicts. Governors are not omniscient.

Personal liberty brings personal responsibility. Stay home if coughing. Without masks, keep a 12-foot separation. When adults stay close together while unmasked, there is no victim and therefore no crime. But they must ensure they do not infect others. Being unmasked in a crowded place claims too much personal space, which is rude. It justifies ostracism, not violence. We oppose edicts because they authorize arrest, risking selective enforcement and potentially lethal force.

“Consent of the governed” requires consensus. Governors must end the declared emergencies.

Libertarian candidate, U.S. Senate

I was hiking on a beautiful Santa Fe trail, wearing my Biden mask. A hiker passed by and gave me the thumbs up and said, “Biden all the way.” Please vote.

I sit here on July 26 in utter disgust, horror and anger about what is going on in many of the cities in our country. I am on record with anyone I come in contact with these days that President Donald Trump is the most dishonest conman ever to hold office. We must vote him out. However, today my frustration and anger is leveled at those dimwits who keep setting fire to our cities! What do they think they are accomplishing? Do they possibly have any understanding they are about to hand our country back to Trump if this goes on any longer?

If Joe Biden wants to be a leader, he must come out strongly against these dumbbells. Forget Putin and the Russians right now, Joe. The well-intentioned protesters are getting swallowed up by the jerks who have no good purpose. We must stop them and now.

Donald Trump’s daily “TV show presidency” has clearly jumped the shark. It’s high time to cancel — vote in November.

The major summer meteor shower alluded to (“Comet, meteors light up night sky,” July 30) is the Perseids. The best chance to see them will be after 10 p.m. on Aug. 11 through about 4 a.m. Aug. 12 when experts predict a brief but intense burst of activity. Regarding comet NEOWISE, I hope that, as you report, many of your readers saw it when it was brightest three weeks ago and on the one clear night last week. The New Mexican‘s story came too late for everyone else. Use binoculars and go to a dark site, preferably the ski basin road overlook or possibly the dog park west of the city lights, or to the mostly light-free Botanical Garden parking lot. Look west-northwest far below and to the left of the Big Dipper.

In these difficult times, there is an imperative not to make conditions worse for all New Mexicans. Unfortunately, reclassifying toxic water used for oil and gas production as nontoxic will not make it clean or safe for use on our food crops and will definitely contaminate our water sources. Here is a link to an article and some concerns of the 42 groups opposing any canceling of standards now protecting us. Visit

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