Day 358 of the pandemic featured a Facebook update from, clockwise from upper left, state Dept. of Health Secretary Dr. Tracie Collins, Human Services Dept. Secretary Dr. David Scrase, American Sign Language interpreter Nixo Lanning and new state epidemiologist Dr. Christine Ross.

Texas is unmasking, but New Mexico isn’t.
Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott announced last week that as of March 10, the state will be open 100 percent and mask-wearing is no longer mandated. Mississippi did likewise.
In Texas, most businesses, including movie theaters and indoor dining, had been open for months, albeit with a mask mandate.
President Joe Biden responded by terming those decisions the result of “Neanderthal thinking.”
“We at the CDC have been very clear that now is not the time to release all restrictions,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, asked about Abbott’s decree during a White House briefing. “The next month or two is really pivotal in terms of how this pandemic goes.”
New Mexico health officials advised residents to remain masked, stay at home when possible, avoid large groups indoors and socially distance when away from home.
“This is not the time to back off on any of the restraints,” advised New Mexico Human Services Department Secretary Dr. David Scrase. “There’s no evidence masks are unsafe.”
“Getting shots in arms” is a higher priority than opening the Land of Enchantment now, said Department of Heath Secretary Dr. Tracie Collins.
Scrase predicted in the Facebook media availability March 3 — Day 358 of COVID-19 here — that the state has “at least six months ahead of us” battling the pandemic.
New Mexico leads the nation in percentage of vaccine distributed, with more than 94 percent of shots received being given, Collins said. Also, she noted, about 23 percent of those 16 and older have been partially vaccinated, and about 13 percent of that demographic has been fully vaccinated.
As of March 3, Collins said, more than 609,000 doses have been administered. Nationally, 53 million Americans have received at least one dose.
The DOH’s “vaccination effort here has been monumental,” Scrase said, and “Many folks are enjoying the ability to do a little more.”
This week, Collins said, 87,800 doses are expected, after the state received more than 80,000 doses last week. The state also received another 17,200 doses of the new “one and done” Johnson & Johnson vaccine, aimed at the providers in the state’s 10 counties with the lowest vaccination rates.
Elsewhere, Biden predicted every adult in America will have been vaccinated by the end of May, with educators and others in the schools vaccinated by the end of this month.
Collins said her department is working with federal officials in an attempt to get the state’s teachers vaccinated sooner than originally planned, and that some 15,000 educators and school staffers in the state have received at least one dose.
“I feel good about that,” Collins said, because vaccinating educators “is a priority to us as well.”
In Sandoval County, the state trends were again reflected, with drops in positive-test cases and deaths. In the 11-day period of Feb. 22 to March 4, the county had 26 or fewer positive tests per day and 11 deaths. On six days, the county had 15 or fewer positive tests, and it went five days without a fatality.

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Gary Herron | Observer staff writer