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

State to re-implement mask mandates Friday

Change will run through at least Sept. 15; additional vaccine requirements placed on health care workers


Last updated 8/17/2021 at 6:41pm

SANTA FE — Citing a rising tide of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations, New Mexico plans to re-implement a statewide requirement of face masks in indoor settings.

The office of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham also announced a requirement for workers in 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.

The state also issued a requirement that all workers at private, public and charter schools in New Mexico either be vaccinated against COVID-19 or otherwise submit to COVID-19 testing on a weekly basis. This policy aligns with the state’s requirement for all state government personnel.

State officials confirmed Tuesday night to The News that the definition of public buildings under the public health order includes businesses.

The mask guidance will take effect Friday for all individuals 2 and older who are not eating or drinking, and remain in effect until at least Sept. 15. Businesses, houses of worship and other entities may enact stricter requirements at their discretion.

“We all want the pandemic to be over,” Acting Health Secretary David Scrase said. “But the virus has its own timeline. And the virus has mutated. At this stage, the Delta variant makes up virtually 100% of new COVID-19 cases in New Mexico. This variant spreads up to four times more rapidly than the virus we were dealing with last year. The good news is that vaccines work in preventing serious illness and death from a COVID-19 infection. The bad news is that the virus is still spreading and seriously harming unvaccinated people, and this means unsustainable strain in our hospital system. A mask helps stop the spread. Please do your part and help New Mexico stay on the right track: Mask up and get your shots.”

The New Mexico Department of Health confirmed 1,776 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, in addition to five deaths connected to the virus.

The three day total included 59 cases in Curry County and 23 in Roosevelt County. The five deaths recorded came from Bernalillo, Eddy, Rio Arriba and Santa Fe counties, and all were hospitalized.

All 59 Curry cases came from the Clovis 88101 ZIP code, making it the No. 6 ZIP code for reported cases in the state. The top five were Carlsbad (88220 ZIP, 122 cases), Albuquerque (87121, 86), Roswell (88203, 74), Albuquerque again (87114, 60) and Hobbs (88240, 59).

Plains Regional Medical Center reported Tuesday morning it has 16 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, including five in intensive care. One COVID-related death has occurred at the hospital this week.

In other COVID-19 developments:

• The state’ s rapid response watchlist, which documents locations with multiple rapid responses in a 14-day period, includes a total of nine Curry County establishments and two Roosevelt County establishments.

The list includes four schools — Clovis High, Texico High, Yucca Middle School and Barry Elementary. Each has two rapid responses during the 14-day period.

Any establishment that has four rapid responses in a 14-day period is subject to a potential 14-day closure — or in the case of a school building, a two-week remote learning period. The state evaluates each establishment on a case-by-case basis.

• The nominating commission that will recommend the next district judge issued a release noting the requirement of face masks at its upcoming public meeting. The current rule in effect at all courthouses in New Mexico is that all judicial employees, including judges, must wear a face mask in all public areas and at all times when interacting with the public, regardless of their vaccination status. In accordance with the rules, anybody attending the Aug. 25 commission meeting at the Curry County Courthouse will be required to wear a face mask at all times while at the meeting.

• The DOH announced it would end the second round of vaccine incentives at the end of August.

New Mexicans who receive a first or second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, will be eligible for a $100 incentive. Registration at is required by 5 p.m. Sept. 10.

New Mexicans are limited to one incentive. Any New Mexican under age 18 must receive permission through their parent or guardian, who would receive the incentive on their behalf.

• The DOH released guidance for third COVID-19 booster shots for immunocompromised individuals.

“We encourage New Mexicans with immune-related health conditions to speak directly to their primary care physicians and specialist teams, or their pharmacists — and to get the third shot if appropriate,” Scrase said in the release.

The approval applies only to the vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer. The additional dose should be scheduled more than 28 days after the second shot was delivered.

Third dose shots are not eligible for the state incentive program.

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