How long will New Mexicans be wearing face masks?

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Some COVID-19 practices might stay around even after the vaccine arrives, like wearing masks.

State health officials have made it clear people will be wearing masks until the spread is under control, and a vaccine may not take care of that right away.

Several New Mexicans say they understand.

“It’s discouraging but I fully support it,” Corinne Berendt of Albuquerque said. “We want to stay safe and again, the masks are to protect other people.”

A Human Services Department spokesperson says other reasons to keep wearing a face-covering even when there’s a vaccine include the fact it will take time for people to get the shot, and because not everyone will want to get vaccinated.

The latest Gallup Poll from Nov. 17 shows 58% of people surveyed would get a COVID vaccine when it’s available. That’s up from 50% in September.

The state’s top doctor this week said a mask can reduce your risk of catching COVID-19 by 50% to 75% and that if you do contract COVID while wearing a mask, symptoms may be less severe.

“People who wear masks that get COVID have less virus in their nose than people who don’t,” Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase said. “[It] makes sense: A lot of it’s filtered out 70 to 80, maybe even 90 percent is filtered out.”

HSD said people will also want to wear a mask post-vaccine because we also won’t know the vaccine’s effectiveness or the duration of the vaccine’s protection.

“There’s no data yet on that and it could take months or years to fully understand the long-term effectiveness rate,” an HSD spokesperson said in an emailed statement.  


New Mexico Coronavirus Resource Guide

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