As a part-year resident of New Mexico, I was in Arizona when COVID-19 broke out badly on the east and west coast, but the AZ Governor and even US’s President didn’t put a priority on containing it like NM’s Governor did until it overwhelmed Maricopa County’s healthcare system and front line workers without protective gear for themselves or treatment for patients were stressed beyond belief.

We citizens were told to stay home if sick until we couldn’t breathe anymore. Then emergency care staff had to decide who might get to try the few ventilators they had.

One of the enchantments of Sierra County that had brought me back year after year is the many talented musicians and live bands I found here. But this year the extremely low COVID-19 statistics were the big draw.

Imagine my delight at discovering the Fiddler’s Assn. Players as devoted to playing as I am to dancing! I am so addicted that I dragged an oxygen tank to a smoke-filled Moose Lodge every Friday night, even after the second-hand smoke there had sent me to intensive care, lung surgery, six months bedridden on IV with double pneumonia and life long need for supplemental oxygen.

Breathing through a mask deprives me of needed air and I’m willing to die dancing, but do I have the right to expose you to whatever germs are in the fluids I exhale by not wearing it?

It’s difficult to balance COVID-19 safety with other emotional and economic health issues, even if I’m only “responsible for myself,” as the Sentinel publisher says.

How can a governor do it for a state? Probably by confusing and annoying everyone, but the proof is in the pudding, judging by deaths elsewhere. Historically uncontrolled pandemics only kill about 50% of the population (and they’d end up dead anyway). I’m fine with that as long as it doesn’t include my family and friends. Is that ok with the rest of you without masks, or do you want your own loved ones to survive?

s/Penny Jahoda

PO Box 916

Elephant Butte, NM

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