August 6, 2021
There is an adage that says people will do the right thing after they have exhausted all other alternatives. We have exhausted a lot of alternatives to control the coronavirus pandemic in the past 18 months. The cost of this process, in human and economic terms, has been immeasurable. If we are to reduce the toll of the pandemic, it is clear that we still need to reach an agreement on just what is the right thing.
Sometimes it can be difficult to know what the right thing is, but universities are experienced at solving difficult problems. We teach our students not just facts and practices but how to think and solve problems. Different academic fields approach problems in different ways, but they all rely on critically assessing situations through observation and learning from the results.
How does that help us control the pandemic? Experts tell us that vaccines are a safe and effective solution to the pandemic, and this is something we can verify from many reliable sources. For example:
- People who are vaccinated are not likely to get COVID-19, are less likely to get severely ill and are even less likely to die from COVID-19, based on state-level data from a July report from the Kaiser Family Foundation. In New Mexico, only 0.07% of fully vaccinated people have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Doing the math, this means that of the 7,737 New Mexico cases diagnosed since July 1, fewer than 100 of those cases should have been in people who were fully vaccinated.
- 165 million people in the U.S. have already received the vaccine and have experienced side effects that are typically mild, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Despite the rise in the highly contagious delta variant (Yale Medicine), vaccines used in the U.S. are still effectively preventing severe COVID disease (Mayo Clinic).
Your choice to get vaccinated can affect not just you but your family and your community.
- From the Kaiser Family Foundation article, deaths from COVID-19 are highly concentrated among unvaccinated people and range from 96.9% of deaths in Montana to 99.9% in Connecticut and New Jersey. New Mexico reported that 99.7% of people who died from COVID-19 were not fully vaccinated.
- It is not yet clear if the delta variant is more dangerous for children, but according to National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, the data is “tipping that way.”
- Students have told us that they do not learn well online. Vaccines are critically important in allowing us to provide an in-person education for our students.
In New Mexico, 64.2% of New Mexicans over 18 years of age have already chosen to get vaccinated. That number is 69.3% for residents of Doña Ana County. But even these numbers are inadequate to prevent the current surge. In Doña Ana County, the seven-day average of new cases has quadrupled in the past four weeks from 7.7 cases to 32.9. New Mexico’s state-wide seven-day average shows a six-fold increase, from 71 to more than 450.
This surge has prompted the state to bring back masks indoors, and beginning Sept. 30, NMSU will require proof of vaccination or a weekly negative COVID test for everybody on campus. The decision to get vaccinated or be tested every week is your choice.
Our next town hall will be at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 10, and will focus on the return to campus for faculty, staff and students. As always, you may submit questions in advance and watch via Zoom or Panopto. For more information, contact the Office of the President at 575-646-2127.
Feedback is always welcomed at President.Floros@nmsu.edu.
Be Bold. Be Kind. Be Safe.
John Floros, Ph.D.
BE BOLD. Shape the future.