New Mexico Reinstates Indoor Mask Mandate, Issues Certain Vaccine Mandates

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham holding a face mask in between speaking at a coronavirus press conference in Santa Fe, N.M.Credit...Eddie Moore/The Albuquerque Journal, via Associated Press
Eddie Moore/The Albuquerque Journal, via Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) announced Tuesday that the state would reinstate its indoor mask mandate and require employees at hospitals, nursing homes, state correctional facilities, and other “certain medical close-contact congregate settings” to receive the coronavirus vaccine.

The announcement came in a press release from Grisham’s office, which argued that vaccine and mask mandates are needed to protect “scarce hospital resources and the state’s ongoing economic recovery.”

Regardless of vaccination status, the mask mandate, which takes effect on Friday and rwill emain in effect until at least September 15, offers “limited exceptions” and “applies to all individuals aged 2 and older in all indoor public settings — except when eating or drinking.”

“We all have a role to play,” Grisham said in the statement. “No one wants to go backward. No one wants to see our recovery endangered by another – and preventable – surge of serious illness. No one wants a full hospital turning away New Mexicans who need care.”

“So mask up indoors to stop the spread,” she added. “And vaccinate if you haven’t vaccinated. These two simple steps will protect our health care resources and ensure our economy can continue to rebound.”

The statement also noted:

School workers in public, private or charter schools who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or who are unwilling to provide proof of vaccination to their respective supervisors must, effective Monday, Aug. 23, provide proof of a COVID-19 test on a weekly basis.

“Our priority is keeping students and staff safe and learning in school buildings,” said Public Education Secretary-Designate Kurt Steinhaus. “We know from experience that in-person learning is the gold standard. Masks are part of that safety strategy, but vaccinations are the best tool, hands down.” Grisham said:

We have several effective tools that work to prevent serious illness and death at this stage of this pandemic. The two most relevant at this moment are vaccines and facemasks. New Mexico continues to conduct statewide outreach to unvaccinated populations and is still among the nation’s leaders in completing vaccinations.

Grisham also argued that marks are “once again necessary to ensure the efficacy of the vaccine is not diminished by a mutating virus, and to ensure our hospitals are not overwhelmed by a projected surge of new infections, as has happened and is happening in neighboring states like Texas.”

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