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You don’t have to be ‘this tall’ to ride this ride


I don’t know which part of the rollercoaster you consider the good part or the bad part. For me, the worst part is that slow, creaking ascent as the rollercoaster goes up, when you don’t know for certain what will happen next. For others, the worst part might be the speeding, whooshing freefall. Still others might dislike the smaller, hilly bumps at high speed.

The past couple of weeks have brought a year’s worth of good news-bad news scenarios.

The Good News: We got rain!

The Bad News: We got too much rain, causing serious damage in several parts of the county, forcing many from their homes and wrecking property and vehicles.

The Good News: Las Cruces Public Schools returned to in-person classroom learning for the first time in a lo-o-o-o-ng time.

The Bad News: The return coincided with a spike in Covid numbers.

The Good News: Las Cruces Public Schools, anticipating the spike, had already put in place masking and sanitizing protocols.

The Good News: New Mexico State University students began returning and moving in, much of it in the rain, Friday and Saturday, Aug. 13-14. It was great to see the parking lots in front of student housing full.

The Bad News: Covid again poses a threat on the NMSU campus, and the 18- to 20-year-old segment has been a little bit lax on getting vaccinated.

The Good News: The university also had previously set up indoor masking and NMSU’s Health Center is offering free Covid testing and free Covid vaccines.

The Bad News: The NMSU and Texas-El Paso football teams were ranked among the lowest of all of college football’s 130 teams.

The Good News: Regardless of how accurate those rankings are, if the two teams are indeed comparable, it could make for a competitive, exciting game for the Aggies’ home opener, Saturday, Aug. 28. It’s a scheduled 7:30 p.m. kickoff. And if we’re required to wear masks, so be it. We’ll just bring bigger and louder cowbells.

The Bad News: Every New Mexico county except for sparsely populated Harding County, has rising Covid-positive testing rates. Taos County is lowest as of Aug. 17, at 3.57 percent. DeBaca County is highest at 29.79 percent.

The Good News: In theory, with a year of Covid response experience, people better understand the processes and practices needed to navigate the virus.

The Bad News: Covid fatigue is real. Many people are sick and tired. It is scariest among health care facilities. The health care industry has already lost many good people who were overwhelmed during Covid’s peak, when they were stressed heavily with overtime and constant pressure of dealing with so many cases. And now, as numbers are coming back up, some of the added restrictions, on top of the return of packed hospitals, may be enough to drive more health care workers out of the industry. This would leave our health care system even more unstable. As numbers have risen the past couple of months, particularly in the Southern states, health care workers quickly learned the vast majority of Covid patients were unvaccinated. This created friction among some patients and health care workers, who perceived their exponentially increased caseload as having been avoidable.

The Good News: For once, New Mexico is in the Top 10 of a positive category. With a 68 percent rate of having at least one vaccination shot, as of Aug. 17, our state was tied for seventh among the 50 U.S. states. And we have the highest rate in the country (101 percent) of having used the doses we’ve been given. The only American entity with a higher efficiency is the U.S. Department of Defense, which has used doses at a 106 percent clip.

The Bad News: Most of you already know at least one person who has died with Covid. Many of you have had Covid yourselves. And, as we’ve all learned by now, you can still get Covid even if you’ve been vaccinated. Although the vaccinations have shown to greatly reduce the severity of the illness, as well as protect against the Delta variant, which has proven to be significantly more contagious than the original Covid. Chances are, you or someone you know is likely to get Covid.

The Good News: Well, if you like rollercoasters, looks like you’ll be on the ride at least a little while longer.

Richard Coltharp