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Top New Mexico tourism official says mass gatherings may not be possible for 18 months

Top New Mexico tourism official says mass gatherings may not be possible for 18 months
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New Mexico’s tourism secretary says it could be up to 18 months before mass gatherings can resume in the state.

In a webinar, Tourism Secretary Jen Paul Schroer said last Wednesday that gatherings of more than 100 may not be possible until a vaccine is available, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.

“I know a lot of events have been canceled this year,” Schroer said during the virtual meeting, which centered on how to reopen the state’s hospitality industry. “We may not have the ability to do a mass gathering until we have a vaccine or herd immunity. It could be a year or 18 months.”

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“It could be a long time before it is safe to have gatherings of more than 100,” Nora Meyers Sackett, a spokeswoman for the office of Gov. Michelle Lujan GrishamMichelle Lynn Lujan GrishamDC mayor admitted to Democratic governors group amid statehood fight The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - After historic verdict, Chauvin led away in handcuffs Hispanic Caucus energized by first Biden meeting MORE (D), said Friday, according to the newspaper.

The Santa Fe Opera, meanwhile, has canceled its summer 2020 season and is holding out hope for an available vaccine by next summer.

“Indications are that the performing arts will be the last sector to recover from this pandemic,” Robert Meya, the opera’s general director, said in an email, according to the newspaper. “Like so many others, we are hopeful for a vaccine early in the new year. In the meanwhile, we are focusing our efforts on planning for our 2021 season.”

Public health experts have cautioned there are no guarantees on a timeline for a vaccine, but numerous candidates have been fast-tracked.

Anthony FauciAnthony FauciWatch live: White House holds briefing with COVID-19 response team CDC director: Vaccinated adolescents can remove masks outdoors at summer camps The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Facebook upholds Trump ban; GOP leaders back Stefanik to replace Cheney MORE, the nation's  top infectious diseases expert, said Friday that he could see a vaccine ready for deployment by December or January “if we don’t run into things that are, as they say, unanticipated setbacks.”

And Deborah Birx, head of the White House’s coronavirus task force, said Sunday that officials are not "shortcutting the efficacy and safety testing." 

"What we are shortcutting is the normal development time of manufacturing," she added. "That’s how you can potentially shorten this by four to six or even eight months and that’s what’s happening now.”