The governor’s early response to the coronavirus slowed the spread and saved lives. Two months later, however, we’ve learned much more about COVID-19, how to manage it and the much-lower-than-anticipated mortality rates. We know COVID-19 can be effectively handled while allowing life to continue.

To better understand where New Mexicans stand on handling COVID-19, New Mexico Business Coalition conducted an open survey of over 1,100 participants. The results:

  • 95 percent feel the economy should have been opened no later than May 15;
  • 93 percent feel it is important or very important for all small businesses to open immediately;
  • 84 percent were dissatisfied with New Mexico officials’ response in handling the shutdown and lacking a reopening plan;
  • 73 percent were dissatisfied with the unemployment response;
  • 85 percent agreed that “The governor’s leadership and/or decisions do not support what is best for all New Mexicans.”

The governor’s orders, based on questionable science, have hurt minorities, the poor and business operations, leading to a lack of faith in requirements and the inability to care for families.

  • Mandatory use of face coverings comes with conflicting data. New Mexicans overwhelmingly want to limit the virus’ spread, but this being the new normal is unacceptable.
  • Widespread testing before the state is fully functional is ludicrous because we know a test today does not guarantee you won’t be infected tomorrow.
  • Immunizations could take 18-24 months for widespread availability. If stay-at-home instructions, mask use and/or limited school and business operations continue that long, New Mexico won’t be fully functional during this governor’s term.

We do not downplay the seriousness of the virus and offer our sincere condolences to anyone who has lost a loved one. Around the country, however, we see government leaders taking a different approach.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem never instituted closures or lock downs. After advising everyone of recommended safety measures, she trusted her people “to do the right thing.”

That state has among the nation’s lowest COVID-19 involvement.

In New Mexico, there are a majority of counties with less than 50 COVID-19 cases and three or fewer deaths. There is no value in continuing strict orders because of isolated hot spots.

Hundreds of New Mexico businesses have closed permanently, eliminating thousands of jobs and the opportunity for people to feed their children. That will increase without an immediate change of direction.

Businesses take pride in their plans to protect employees and customers. Many owners are no longer willing to stay closed or significantly restricted because their lives and those of their employees are on the line.

It appears this trend will continue, not as a political statement or act of defiance, but in desperation to feed their families and provide jobs for others to do the same.

That’s why New Mexico Business Coalition believes the South Dakota model of trusting people to do the right thing is the best approach for New Mexico. It should be implemented immediately.

For the full story and survey results, visit

(Carla J. Sonntag is the president and founder of the New Mexico Business Coalition. NMBC focuses on improving the business environment for companies and the quality of life for all New Mexicans. Its educational efforts focus on providing New Mexicans the facts about issues impacting business opportunities.)