Aug 18, 2021 - Politics & Policy

New Mexico to reinstate indoor mask mandate

Photo of Michelle Lujan Grisham in a mask giving a sticker to a woman
First Lady Jill Biden (far left) looks on as New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham gives a sticker to a woman who just received a COVID-19 vaccine. Photo: Mandel Ngan/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

People in New Mexico will be required to wear face masks in all public indoor spaces regardless of vaccination status starting on Friday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: The spread of coronavirus has "increased dramatically" due to the highly infectious Delta variant and still-unvaccinated populations, Lujan Grisham's office said. State modeling projects that New Mexico will reach 1,000 new cases per day by the end of August.

  • Because vaccination rates have slowed in recent months, the Democratic governor will also mandate vaccines or weekly testing for all health care workers and all private, public and charter school employees.

The big picture: COVID hospitalizations in New Mexico have hit a six-month high as of Monday.

  • The state has one of the lowest numbers of per-capita hospital beds in the U.S.
  • Delta accounts for virtually 100% of new cases in New Mexico, according to acting health secretary David R. Scrase.

What she's saying: "We all have a role to play," Lujan Grisham said in a 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. 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."
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