New Mexico's statewide requirement that face masks be worn in all indoor public spaces, with only limited exceptions and regardless of vaccination status, will be extended, the Office of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021.
Gov. Lujan Grisham authorized the reimplementation of the mask requirement in August in an effort to stem the state’s rising tide of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.
The reimplemented facemask requirement has contributed to reducing viral transmission in the state over the last month; the state’s seven-day average COVID-19 test positivity rate was 9 percent on August 16 and decreased to 6.5 percent as of September 14.
But total statewide hospitalizations have remained generally steady during the past month and staffed hospital beds remain in short supply, as primarily unvaccinated individuals continue to spread a more infectious variant of the virus. Health officials, including those at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, continue to recommend face masks be worn in indoor spaces as they are effective in limiting the spread of the more transmissible “Delta” variant.
The extended mask requirement is now effective through at least October 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 mask requirement as necessary.
“If not for the health of yourself, your family, your neighbors, and your colleagues, then for the continued economic recovery of our state and nation: I urge New Mexicans to get vaccinated, mask up and continue to social distance,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. “This virus is a true test of what it means to come together as Americans, and I know that we have the capacity to continue to take on a minor personal sacrifice for one another toward a greater good.”
The separate public health order requiring health care workers to be vaccinated and vaccinate-or-test requirements for school workers remains in place.
The operative emergency public health orders, issued by Acting Health Secretary David R. Scrase, M.D., can be found for vaccinations here or for face masks here.
Vaccination continues to be the most effective tool against COVID-19. The New Mexico Department of Health reports there were 58 percent more vaccinations administered in August than July in our state, likely attributable at least in part to the state’s financial incentive program.
Despite New Mexico’s status as one of the nation’s leaders in vaccination rates, about 30 percent of eligible New Mexicans are not yet fully vaccinated, necessitating the continued use of face coverings in public settings as the infectious variant remains in circulation.
“Apart from vaccination, face coverings are our best tool to manage the spread of COVID, especially in the face of the highly infectious Delta variant,” said Secretary Scrase. “Our state case rates continue to be three to four times higher than our ‘maximum safety level’ of 210 cases per day. Wearing a mask is a small sacrifice that makes an enormous difference – and one that saves the lives of our fellow New Mexicans. We thank the people of this state for all they have done through this pandemic – and for their continuing commitment to one another.”
The mask requirement applies to all individuals 2-years old and older in all indoor public settings -- except when eating or drinking. Masks are required for everyone in school buildings regardless of vaccination status. Businesses, houses of worship and other entities may enact stricter requirements at their discretion.
The second public health order, originally implemented in August, still requires all workers in New Mexico hospitals and congregate care facilities to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with only limited exceptions, and also requires school workers who are not yet fully vaccinated to be tested for COVID-19 once a week.
As of Wednesday, September 15, hospitals must report to the Department of Health the number of:
Workers subject to the public health order,
Fully vaccinated workers,
Partially vaccinated workers,
Unvaccinated workers, and
Unvaccinated workers who have been granted a vaccine requirement exemption.
In addition, congregate care facilities must provide records regarding a worker’s vaccination or exemption status upon request by the Department of Health.
Get vaccinated to protect yourself, your family, and your coworkers. Visit VaccineNM.org to find locations and to sign up for an appointment today.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT CV.NMHEALTH.ORG.