New Mexicans fully vaccinated against COVID-19 do not have to wear masks in either indoor or outdoor settings, per a new health order from the New Mexico Department of Health (DOH).
DOH followed the lead of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday.
Thursday, CDC issued an update that stated, “fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance,” the CDC website indicated.
Per the CDC, all individuals who are unvaccinated or not yet fully vaccinated are still required, per the public health order and CDC guidance, to wear a mask in public settings, read a news release from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office.
“Individuals are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Individuals who do not meet those requirements must continue to wear a mask in public settings,” the release cited.
Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway welcomed the news from DOH.
“We’re excited to be moving forward with this very welcome phase of COVID-19 recovery. We encourage those who are still interested in obtaining a vaccine to do so, so that we can completely move past this pandemic,” he said.
Despite the orders from CDC and DO, State Rep. Randall Pettigrew (R-61) said both agencies were engaged in “gamesmanship.”
“This is terrible what they’re doing. Everything that they have said in the past that we’re gonna follow the science, just went out the door,” he said.
“I am glad to see an intelligent decision can be made (and) let’s not diagnose whether or not the State’s going to do the right thing off one political decision.”
DOH encouraged New Mexicans to continue adhering to COVID-safe practices.
“All individuals, including those who are fully vaccinated, should continue to wear well-fitted masks where required by localities, tribal entities, and individual businesses,” the release indicated.
“The state fully supports businesses and workplaces that may continue to require masks for employees and/or customers on the premises, regardless of vaccination status,” the release added.
“Getting vaccinated is the ticket to a safe and healthy COVID-free future,” said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. “We are close and getting closer. But that all depends on New Mexicans continuing to protect themselves and their community by getting vaccinated.”
Carlsbad Medical Center (CMC) Spokesperson Melissa Suggs agreed with the governor.
“Vaccination is also an important step in helping to prevent this illness and ending the pandemic. Carlsbad Medical Center continues to assist with community vaccine clinics each Monday at the Walter Gerrells Civic Center,” she said.
As of Friday, DOH noted 868,501 New Mexicans were fully vaccinated and 1,051,681 received at least one shot.
Eddy County had 13,111 residents fully vaccinated as of Friday, per DOH and 37.6 percent of Eddy County’s 44,521 population had at least one vaccine.
Mask rules did not change for public schools Friday, according to the New Mexico Public Education Department (PED).
“New Mexico’s public schools will continue requiring staff, educators, students and visitors to wear masks at all times except when eating or drinking,” according to a PED press release.
Despite new mask guidance Thursday from the CDC, the mask requirement is unchanged for school settings for now due to the potential spread of COVID-19 among unvaccinated students, read the release.
New COVID-19 cases remained low this week in Eddy County, according to the DOH.
Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway said no positive cases were reported in Eddy County on Tuesday and the number of cases remained in the single digits through Thursday, per DOH data.
Thursday one new case was noted in Eddy County. DOH indicated seven were reported on Wednesday and four cases were reported last Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
Overall Eddy County recorded 75,463 tests as of Thursday afternoon, per DOH. Data indicated Eddy County reported 6,844 total cases and 6,564 total recoveries were cited.
COVID-19 cases remained high in Eddy County’s younger population, per DOH’s demographic breakdown.
Those in the 30 to 39 age group had the highest numbers at 1,199 in Eddy County. The numbers read 1,159 for those 20 to 29 and fell to 1,025 for those 40 to 49.
As Eddy County’s population ages, the numbers bottomed out to 79 in those 90 and older, DOH data read.
Eddy County’s last COVID-19 death was reported nearly three weeks ago as the total deaths stand at 129, DOH figures read.
“Carlsbad Medical Center is encouraged by the continued decrease in the number of COVID-19 cases in our county as well as the decrease in critically ill COVID patients in our facility,” said Suggs.
She said the hospital expanded access and visitation as the numbers have dropped in Eddy County.
“We continue to take numerous precautions to keep our patients, visitors and staff safe and to prevent the spread of COVID (19),” Suggs said.
Mike Smith can be reached at 575-628-5546 or by email at MSmith@currentargus.com or @ArgusMichae on Twitter.