Sunday, July 4, 2021

Happy not-COVID-freedom day.

Gerd Altmann | Pixabay

On Thursday, New Mexico officially lifted all COVID-19-related restrictions. Stores and restaurants are back up to full occupancy, attendants are no longer wiping down the handles of shopping carts at the grocery store, and a whole lot of people have abandoned their masks.

We got here not by ignoring the virus, as other states have done, but by pushing vaccinations hard. As of early last week, 71% of eligible New Mexicans had received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 62% of those eligible were fully vaccinated. The numbers across the state are not even, of course; we have a lot of rural land, as well as our share of anti-vaxxers. Just 29.9% of eligible folks in Roosevelt County are fully vaccinated, compared with 82.6% in Los Alamos County. (I live in Santa Fe County, where the full vaccination rate is 69.5%. The statewide dashboard is here.)

I've been out and about a bit over the past week, and it appears that stores and restaurants here are now defaulting to the CDC guidelines: If you're fully vaccinated, you don't need to mask up. That's true even in regard to the variants; all three of the vaccines approved for use in the United States are effective against the delta variant, which is the one causing the most trouble right now. In fact, virtually all of the people dying of COVID-19 in the US right now are unvaccinated. The Associated Press story I just linked to observes that if everybody eligible for the vaccine would just get the shot, deaths from the virus would be virtually zero.

And yet we still have a sizable percentage of people that haven't gotten a shot. The percentage varies from state to state; the states with the worst vaccination rates are mostly in the South. Holding the bottom spot is Mississippi, with just 38.3% of its adults fully vaccinated.  

I feel terrible for my friends who live in states that haven't pushed vaccines as hard as New Mexico has. Here we are, 16 months into this pandemic, and too many fully vaccinated Americans are still scared to leave their homes. But now it's not because of the virus running rampant, but because you don't know whether the unmasked person next to you at the grocery store is fully vaccinated or just living in denial.

Today we're celebrating the 245th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence -- yet in a lot of ways, and despite the cheerleading from Washington, this virus is still holding America hostage. I wish we could reach herd immunity without losing too many more people to COVID-19, but I don't see how we can. The unvaccinated are in for a terrible fall and winter. And to be honest, I can't feel sorry for them anymore.

More Atherton Vampire news: Of course as soon as I said that Amazon's rules required Kindle Vella stories to be exclusive to that platform, the Zon went and changed the rules. Now they're going to allow authors to publish episodes in a single volume 30 days after their Kindle Vella release. That means I'll be able to publish The Atherton Vampire as a regular old ebook in oh, say, late September or early October. The exact date will depend on when Kindle Vella goes live. I'll keep you posted.

In addition, The Atherton Vampire 2 is progressing nicely. I started the first draft Thursday, the first day of the July Camp NaNo session, and I'm already 5,000 words in. If I stick to 25 episodes for this story, too, and if I write an episode a day, I'll have the whole thing drafted well before the end of July. 

These moments of independent blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Get vaxxed!

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