BY DUNCAN HAMMON
Much has been written about the devastating impacts the Covid lockdowns had on education and small businesses. But the impacts on residents of extended living facilities such assisted living and nursing homes has been largely ignored. With the facilities locked down, residents were left isolated for what for many were the last months of their lives and loved ones were not even able to say goodbye or give comfort. These insults are not recoverable, there is not way to make up for the lost moments. Furthermore, without visitation by loved ones, there was no one to advocate for the residents. Even in the best of times, neglect and abuse are all too common in nursing homes. Without any oversight from family members the neglect and abuse could only get worse. The impacts of the lockdowns were not intended but occurred never the less. Even with the lockdowns Covid spread through the facilities.
There appeared to be a total lack of imagination in the response to the pandemic exhibited by the leadership in New Mexico and in much of the country. This is largely a result of the autocratic emergency powers assumed by our leaders. Even now, our governor will not relinquish her dictatorial powers. If the only concern was to stop the pandemic then a total lockdown seemed like the best approach. But that ignored the fact the pandemic was not occurring in a vacuum and did not consider unintended consequences. (Time does not stand still.) In fact emerging evidence points to higher fatalities due to the lockdowns and delays in healthcare than caused directly by the virus. Granted it was a very difficult problem but sentencing nursing home residents to solitary confinement for months, for many their last months, was not the answer.