Responding to

"I think most things are pretty magical, and that it's less a matter of belief than it is one of just stopping to notice."
Neil Gaiman
Guidelines are like maps. We can choose to follow them or we can choose to chart our own course. Sometimes, we end up doing a bit of both.

The CDC issued its first set of guidelines last week for fully vaccinated people to follow. As with a map, many of us will probably follow our own paths as we determine how to best apply the guidelines to our own lives.

The guidelines are pretty straight-forward and will likely be expanded and updated as more people become fully vaccinated, the impact of variants becomes better known, and our general understanding of the virus increases.

People are considered fully vaccinated against COVID-19 two weeks after receiving their second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or two weeks after receiving their single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The guidelines apply to non-healthcare settings.

Fully vaccinated people can:
  • Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing.
  • Visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors and without wearing masks or physical distancing.
  • Refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure if they remain asymptomatic.

For now, the guidelines recommend that fully vaccinated people should continue to:
  • Wear a well-fitted mask and maintain physical distancing when in public.
  • Adhere to prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people who are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease or who have an unvaccinated household member who is at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease (such as an elderly or immune-compromised individual).
  • Wear masks, maintain physical distance, and practice other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people from multiple households.
  • Avoid medium- and large-sized in-person gatherings (the guidance doesn't define "medium" or "large").
  • Get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Follow guidance issued by individual employers.
  • Follow CDC and local health department travel requirements and recommendations.

Travel is still strongly discouraged.

The guidelines leave plenty of room for individual decision-making, for example, recommending that fully vaccinated people "should be mindful of their potential risk of transmitting the virus to others if they become infected."

They also represent another important step in the journey to reopen our lives.
Kitchen Angels volunteers all know the importance of colored dots. Evidently, so does the CDC.
Restrictions at the local level have also eased up for residents of a number of New Mexico counties, at least as of last Wednesday and at least for the next two weeks.

With a rolling two-week average of 59 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents and a 1.4% test positivity rate, Santa Fe County has been placed at the "Green Level" under the state's Red to Green Framework. Here's what this means:

  • Essential retail spaces may operate at 50 percent of their maximum capacity for both indoor and outdoor venues.
  • Essential non-retail businesses have no capacity restrictions although operations are limited to only those absolutely necessary to carry out essential functions.
  • Restaurants that are New Mexico Safe Certified may operate at 50 percent of their maximum capacity for indoor dining and 75 percent of their maximum capacity for outdoor dining.
  • Bars and clubs may operate at 25 percent of their maximum capacity for any outdoor on-premises space, but indoor operations remain curtailed.

There are reduced restrictions for close-contact businesses, entertainment venues, recreational facilities, houses of worship, and hotels and other guest accommodations. Click here for a full list of the restrictions at each level (including Turquoise, the least restrictive level) as well as which counties are at which level.

Personal vigilance remains the key to keeping the county's infection rates low and businesses, including Kitchenality, open. With the recent lifting of all public health restrictions in Texas, it's possible New Mexico and Santa Fe will experience a spill-over effect.

Still, it seems reasonable to feel cautiously optimistic. As David Leonhardt wrote last week, when the number of new cases began rising in February, experts were concerned that the more contagious virus variants were on the verge of sparking a nationwide surge. They did not. In retrospect, the late February increase ended up looking more like an anomaly. As for the variants, David suggests, "the overall evidence . . . has been more encouraging so far than many people expected. The vaccines are virtually eliminating hospitalizations and death in people who contract a variant. Reinfection does not seem to be widespread. And even if the variants are more contagious, they have not caused the kind of surges that seemed possible a couple of weeks ago." David cautions, however, "the recent decline is much gentler than the declines during most of January and February. The reasons aren’t wholly clear, and the variants may play a role. Either way, it’s another sign that the pandemic is not on the verge of ending."

Please, keep doing what you've been doing. The combined efforts of staff and volunteers have kept Kitchen Angels and our clients safe during a very tough year. That accomplishment alone is nothing short of amazing!

In gratitude for all that you do.
Thank you for your vigilance. We want you to stay safe,
healthy, and informed.