The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Residents encouraged to cover up


April 5, 2020

SANTA FE — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham isn’t mandating the use of masks when New Mexicans go out in public.

But the Governor’s Office said Thursday that top state health officials are now strongly encouraging state residents to cover up — by wearing face coverings when they leave their houses as a way to mitigate the spread of germs amid a coronavirus outbreak.

Specially designed masks for doctors and nurses should not be used by members of the public, however, to ensure there’s as many as possible for frontline healthcare workers.

“Our guidance to the public will be that face coverings may provide some additional benefit and are encouraged — but of course they do not replace the important actions of staying home, washing your hands, and aggressive social distancing as far as reducing the spread,” said Lujan Grisham spokesman Tripp Stelnicki.

While some healthcare experts have questioned how effective the wearing of masks in public is when it comes to combating the coronavirus, there’s been recent movement nationwide toward face coverings.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Wednesday urged the city’s 4 million residents to wear masks when they go out, even homemade cloth masks or makeshift bandanas.

“We’re going to have to get used to seeing each other like this ... This will be the look,” Garcetti said, according to The Associated Press.

Other countries have also issued mask recommendations, and Austria announced last week it would require masks for grocery shoppers.

In New Mexico, many state residents have already begun wearing masks in grocery stores and some have begun making their own masks at home.

“Wearing a face covering is no guarantee, but it can help and you are encouraged to do so,” the governor tweeted Thursday during an online question-and-answer session.

While encouraging such coverings, the Governor’s Office said it’s important that state residents do not use the snug-fitting N95 face masks that protect medical workers from the coronavirus.

There is a statewide stock of only about 44,000 such face masks, AP reported.


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