COVID-19: Gov. Announces Reinstatement of Mask Mandate, New Vaccine Requirements

A new public health order announced today will temporarily require masks to be worn indoors. The order will go into effect this Friday, August 20 and will last until September 15 at the earliest.

The order requires all New Mexicans aged two and up to wear masks indoors – including in school settings, in alignment with CDC guidelines – except when eating and drinking.

The public health order also requires 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. Unvaccinated workers have 10 days to obtain their first shot and must receive their second dose within 40 days.

Employees of private, public and charter schools in New Mexico must also receive a vaccination or undergo weekly testing, effective Monday, August 23.

For the first time in some weeks, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham held a virtual press event this afternoon to discuss these new requirements and the state’s progress in fighting COVID-19.

During the press conference, Lujan Grisham emphasized masks and vaccines as two key tools against spread of the Delta variant, which state leaders now say accounts for virtually all new cases and is responsible for hospitals approaching capacity again. “We must do everything we can to bolster vaccine success in the state,” she said.

To that end, she said, those who hope to attend the State Fair at Expo New Mexico will need to produce proof of vaccination or proof of their exemption, like a note from a doctor or religious institution.

Lujan Grisham urged viewers to get vaccinated and to respectfully engage unvaccinated friends and family on why vaccination is important to local and state communities. “Your actions help protect the safety and livelihood of your family and friends,” she added.

David Scrase, Cabinet Secretary for the Department of Health and the Department of Human Services, said New Mexico’s vaccination efforts currently put it in the top 10 in the nation. Nearly 75% of adults and 55% of children 12-17 in New Mexico have received at least one shot; 65.9% of New Mexicans 18+ are fully vaccinated.

However, Scrase also showed a graph of positive cases, shown below, with the recent surge mirroring the rise a year ago that preceded New Mexico’s peak in November. Los Alamos National Laboratory modeling projects 900-1500 new cases each day by the end of the month.

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