As the number of COVID-19 cases increased steadily in Taos County through July, so has the blame game.
It's led to angry comments on social media and in letters and phone calls to the editor of this newspaper blaming anyone with out-of-state licenses for the increase in cases and telling them to go home.
Someone took it a step further recently and spray-painted "Go home" on the walls of some downtown Taos businesses. That is simply vandalism and there's no excuse for it. It leaves businesses that are already hurting due to the shutdowns earlier this summer with yet another expense to clean up the graffiti.
It is easy to blame visitors from out of town for the increase in COVID-19 cases - most of which have occurred in the town of Taos and Ranchos de Taos. Certainly there are people with out-of-state license plates who've been spotted not wearing masks, crowding campgrounds and generally not abiding by state and local emergency orders.
But some local people, too, are guilty of not protecting themselves or their loved ones and others from this new coronavirus, which, even when it doesn't kill its host, often leaves people with long-term detrimental health impacts. Locals play at public basketball courts, camp together and hang out at picnic sites without wearing masks or staying a safe distance from each other.
Just because someone has an out-of-state license plate does not automatically make them guilty of ignoring health orders. They very well may be following them - they may be military service people, they may be farmworkers, they may be here caring for elderly relatives. They may have abided by every requirement, including quarantining for 14 days before going out for a takeout meal or to buy groceries. They may have already been here working for weeks before the pandemic hit.
Making automatic assumptions that every person with an out-of-state license has no valid reason to be here is wrong.
Both visitors and those who are residents of Taos County all have the same responsibilities in the age of COVID-19 - to wear masks out of respect for others, wash hands thoroughly and keep physically distanced from others in public spaces.
It's irritating, but it's really not that hard.
And the quicker everyone does it, the quicker this beautiful place all of us love can figure out a new normal.