The mandate of the NM face mask will be extended by at least one month

A protester at an event in July 2020 at the Civic Plaza in Albuquerque holds a sign targeting a face mask requirement in New Mexico. A mask mandate for indoor public places is expected to be extended for at least a month, a spokesperson for Lujan Grisham said on Tuesday. (Roberto E. Rosales / Journal)

SANTA FE – A face mask mandate in New Mexico for indoor public places will be extended for at least a month, a spokesperson for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said on Tuesday.

The mask’s mandate, which applies to all residents of the state regardless of their vaccination status, was re-imposed in mid-August amid an increase in new COVID-19 cases fueled by the delta variant highly contagious of the virus.

This is part of a public health order issued by acting Secretary of State for Health David Scrase, which is due to expire on Wednesday. But Lujan Grisham spokesman Tripp Stelnicki said the order would be extended without any “substantial changes” expected.

A separate public health order requiring hospital workers, correctional officers and other group home workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or risk losing their jobs has no set expiration date.

After rising steadily over the past month, the number of new COVID-19 cases and virus-related hospitalizations has shown signs of stabilizing in recent days.

As of Tuesday, 749 new cases were reported statewide, including 215 new cases in Bernalillo County and five new cases among inmates held in Santa Fe and Los Lunas state prisons.

And health officials reported that 352 people had been hospitalized because of the virus – up from 388 people hospitalized a week earlier.

However, state health officials have warned that the death rate from the virus could continue to rise, as deaths have tended to lag behind new cases and hospitalizations during the COVID pandemic. -19 that first struck New Mexico in March 2020. And officials reported 12 more deaths on Tuesday, bringing the death toll in New Mexico to 4,631 since the start of the pandemic.

While some vaccinated people have tested positive for COVID-19 amid the recent surge, unvaccinated adults account for the overwhelming majority of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

Almost 79% of New Mexico residents aged 18 and over had received at least one dose of the vaccine on Monday, while 69% of adults had received all of the vaccines needed to be fully immunized.

Meanwhile, New Mexico was among the first states to require face coverings to be worn in public places, when Lujan Grisham revised a previous public health order to include a face mask warrant in May 2020.

But the face mask requirement has drawn criticism, even as a Journal poll conducted last fall found 78% of likely voters supported it, and some county sheriffs refused to implement the warrant.

Before being recently reimposed for indoor public places, the face mask mandate was lifted in May for fully vaccinated people to comply with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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