SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The mask debate continues. This time, it’s governor versus governor. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis said last week he won’t be requiring masks like New Mexico and will be leaving it up to counties, even as their cases keep climbing. He’s claiming masks haven’t helped improve New Mexico’s case count.
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Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said on Monday she’s disappointed Gov. Polis would highlight the state in that way, noting New Mexico has been leading efforts to help stop the spread of COVID, like with a quick vaccine rollout.
“We were earlier than Colorado at getting people vaccinated, and in fact, Colorado sought New Mexico’s help and I’m glad that they did because this is a partnership to protect Americans,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said.
She adds masks are necessary for New Mexico, considering kids younger than five still aren’t eligible to get the vaccine, and because of the state’s large number of high-risk New Mexicans. Additionally, the state welcomes a lot of tourists who might not be vaccinated.
This comes as the state’s largest hospitals have started implementing crisis standards of care because they are overwhelmed with patients with and without COVID-19. KRQE News 13 asked if New Mexico would consider investing in outpatient treatment for people who test positive for the virus, like Colorado’s mobile monoclonal antibody treatment centers.
“The issue really for us has been so many of our patients- because we don’t have the same kind of healthcare system- you need the kind of practitioners to actually do that in the top (of) I-25 corridor area,” Lujan Grisham said. She says she is open to any idea that “makes it easier to treat, prevent and save lives from COVID.”
Presbyterian says it already performs those monoclonal antibody treatments at its regional sites for patients who are referred by a provider. They say they’ve given those treatments to nearly 1,500 people since August at its Albuquerque location alone. The infusion center is seeing up to 50 patients per day to accommodate what it’s calling a surging demand for the treatment.
Some UNM Hospital and Lovelace locations, as well as the San Juan Regional Medical Center also offer the treatment to help lessen COVID symptoms and help people avoid hospitalization. The New Mexico Department of Health said there are no immediate plans for setting up more sites because of the limited availability of the treatment.