New Mexico to re-implement indoor mask mandate; vaccinations required in hospitals, congregate settings
SANTA FE – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Tuesday will announce that the state of New Mexico will temporarily re-implement a statewide requirement that facemasks be worn in all public indoor spaces, with only limited exceptions, and regardless of vaccination status, to stem the state’s rising tide of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.
Given the slowing of vaccination rates since a peak several months ago, the governor also announced the state will issue a requirement for all workers in certain medical close-contact congregate settings – including hospitals, nursing homes, juvenile justice facilities, rehabilitation facilities, state correctional facilities and more – to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The state also issued a requirement that all workers at private, public and charter schools in New Mexico either be vaccinated against COVID-19 or otherwise submit to COVID-19 testing on a weekly basis. This policy aligns with the state’s requirement for all state government personnel.
The spread of COVID-19 in New Mexico has increased dramatically in recent weeks, driven by the highly infectious “Delta” variant and primarily unvaccinated populations. State modeling projects that New Mexico will reach 1,000 new daily cases of COVID-19 by the end of August, and as many as 1,000 new daily cases in southeastern New Mexico alone in the weeks after that.
Hospitalizations for COVID-19 in New Mexico have sharply risen to a 6-month high as of Monday, Aug. 16. Hospital leaders, acknowledging some state facilities already reaching or exceeding 100 percent capacity, have recently amplified their calls for unvaccinated New Mexicans to vaccinate and help forestall a projected shortage of hospital resources amid the projected fall surge. New Mexico has one of the lowest numbers of per-capita hospital beds in the U.S., and rising virus hospitalizations create a ripple effect, hospital leaders say, for other individuals who need care for other purposes within the health care system.
Under a public health order issued by Acting Health Secretary David R. Scrase, M.D., the re-implemented mask requirement applies to all individuals aged 2 and older in all indoor public settings – except when eating or drinking.
Masks will be required to everyone in school buildings regardless of vaccination status, which aligns with the most recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Public Education Department has been in the process of updating its toolkit for schools and district personnel.
The indoor mask requirement will be effective Friday, Aug. 20. It will remain in effect until at least September 15. The governor, acting upon the counsel and analysis of the state Medical Advisory Team and state health officials, may decide to extend or lift the requirement as necessary.
Businesses, houses of worship and other entities may enact stricter requirements at their discretion.
View Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s press conference on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=872859180334128&ref=watch_permalink