COMMENTS to the Silver City Town Council for the next November council meeting 2020

The Town is considering whether to implement a curfew, perhaps as early as 7pm. I did some research and there are arguments in favor (one located) as well as opposed to curfews (many).

While I am not an expert in infectious diseases or in viral transmission, for months I have spent hours each day tracking data for NM, AZ, and the USA. This has suggested the following fact:

Infection seems to be a function of time and distance from infected persons, density of infected persons, viral load in infected persons, as well as on the use of PPE and hygiene by all.

A curfew will reduce restaurant hours, bar hours, and retail hours. Since the same number of people will patronize such businesses anyway, and since many businesses are operating below authorized capacity, the capacity utilization can and will increase with those fewer hours. That will decrease distancing or increase customer density, and that could increase viral transmission. For that reason I question the benefit of a curfew.

The states own Rapid Response figures (as of October 26, 2020) show that restaurants account for only 8% of employee sicknesses triggering a Rapid Response. A review of all Rapid Responses for Grant County shows not one single restaurant has had a Rapid Response. Further, almost all RAPID RESPONSE calls were government or medical related, or for businesses closing before 7pm anyway. Only three were for retail after normal hours. Again, I question how a curfew will help reduce such infections.

Unlike El Paso, the latest Las Cruces measures do not include a curfew. El Paso residents seeking a night life might travel to Las Cruces, it is less likely they will go to Deming, and since Silver City is not known for its night life, I question if a curfew will protect us from El Paso residents seeking late night activity. Again, I question how a curfew will help reduce such infections.

New Mexico is a COVID disaster zone, filled with people tired of ineffective and flawed earlier orders. New Mexico has no effective contact tracing, thus customer infection source data is limited and anecdotal at best.

However, the governor has recently done an excellent job in reducing restrictions and changing course by publishing Rapid Response data, the watch list, and the closure list. The state already has a curfew; the current public health order already has curfew hours of 10pm to 4am for many entities.

I imagine the Silver City curfew is intended to protect us from Luna County, Dona Ana County, and El Paso visitors. Remember that we travel there much more than they travel here. We do not have a freeway and thus have fewer opportunities for itinerant visitors.

Finally, I question the benefit of a local curfew, especially one stricter than the state itself requires. I would rather the Town use Grant County Rapid Response data to show a trend, and other sources before enacting a curfew. Always remember that every solution carries the seeds of the next problem.

Thank you for reading this. Below are what others say, as well as references.

Simon Wheaton-Smith
Silver City Resident
11/3/2020

Comments questioning curfew benefits:

The study by the London School for Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) examined the impact of both measures, which were introduced last month. While not yet peer reviewed, the following findings were found:-

It found that 42% of the 3,222 individuals it surveyed about the rule of six had the same amount of contacts before and after the measure was introduced.

Just over three out of ten (31%) reduced their contacts, while 26% saw more people after the rule was introduced.

SAGE: Documents published on Monday from the governments Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) show that experts dismissed the idea of a curfew exactly a week before one was implemented across England.

The governments own scientific advisers warned that its 10pm curfew on pubs, bars and restaurants would only have a marginal impact on the spread of coronavirus.

Professor Paul Hunter, an infectious diseases expert and professor in Medicine at University of East Anglia, says in general, theres a lack of any real evidence on the impact of curfews on epidemics. I did find one paper that suggested some benefit, but was not at all impressed by their analytical approach, he tells HuffPost UK.

References questioning curfew benefits:
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/oct/08/pubs-restaurants-do-scientists-think-covid-closures-curfews-work-virus
https://news.yahoo.com/rule-curfew-zero-effect-transmission-study-coronavirus-145755887.html
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/oct/08/pubs-restaurants-do-scientists-think-covid-closures-curfews-work-virus
https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/uk-curfew-coronavirus-lockdown_uk_5f69ba27c5b655acbc6f7322?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly9kdWNrZHVja2dvLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAF4CaU5rx6O3cI2JRa0bTrkK86_3fEIFx5GQBygzR0V4ACNS6nOWFJUpwoPlXgCDpOK7dx85xJ_W2x1dwMUUJIfMeztBllpp7iDqqCiYKoKfjnkJK_dElKSkj9OHZSnXJDgDc-5VdQIkFseW7lg8bi82M5Vx9M4XyQu56jTygKfY

References supporting curfews to reduce COVID infection rates
https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.10.07.20208314v1.full.pdf

Other references:
https://www.env.nm.gov/nmed-resources-for-covid-19/
https://www.env.nm.gov/rapid-response-data/
https://cv.nmhealth.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/102220-PHO.pdf
https://kvia.com/news/new-mexico/2020/10/26/las-cruces-mayor-issues-order-with-new-restrictions-but-no-curfew-due-to-virus/ 

GRANT COUNTY RAPID RESPONSE SUMMARY:
10/30/2020
RR-7480
MAGISTRATE COURT

10/28/2020
RR-6812
JAMES HAMILTON CONSTRUCTION CO

10/28/2020
RR-7292
SILVER CITY CARE CTR

10/27/2020
RR-5678
FOXWORTH-GALBRAITH LUMBER CO

10/27/2020
RR-5977
WESTERN NEW MEXICO UNIVERSITY

10/26/2020
RR-5512
Sixth Judicial District Attorneys? Office

10/21/2020
RR-4956
JAMES HAMILTON CONSTRUCTION CO

10/20/2020
RR-4615
WALMART AUTO CARE CENTERS

10/17/2020
RR-4280
GILA REGIONAL MEDICAL CTR

10/16/2020
RR-4241
Hidalgo Medical Services Tu Casa

10/16/2020
RR-4209
JAMES HAMILTON CONSTRUCTION CO

10/14/2020
RR-3841
ADDUS HEALTH CARE

10/14/2020
RR-3873
GILA REGIONAL MEDICAL CTR

10/13/2020
RR-3640
GILA REGIONAL MEDICAL CTR

10/13/2020
RR-3673
GRANT COUNTY

10/13/2020
RR-3562
WESTERN NEW MEXICO UNIVERSITY

10/11/2020
RR-3455
GILA REGIONAL MEDICAL CTR

10/9/2020
RR-3255
WALMART SUPERCENTER

10/2/2020
RR-2521
Sixth Judicial District Attorneys Office

10/1/2020
RR-2472
Sixth Judicial District Attorneys Office

9/24/2020
RR-1470
GRANT COUNTY DETENTION CTR

9/23/2020
RR-1410
PROTECTIVE SERVICES DIV

9/16/2020
RR-1117
JAMES HAMILTON CONSTRUCTION CO

9/11/2020
FORT BAYARD MEDICAL CTR

9/8/2020
SILVER CITY CARE CENTER

8/29/2020
Aging and Long Term Services Department - NMDOH

8/12/2020
Belleza Salon & Tanning (no case noted)

7/25/2020
Ft Bayard Medical Center

7/22/2020
Walmart

7/22/2020
Western NM University

7/17/2020
J & S Plumbing and Heating

7/4/2020
Freeport McMoRan Tyrone Mine