ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – It’s back to masks. On Friday, the governor’s latest public health order goes into effect requiring everyone to wear masks in public, indoor settings, regardless of vaccination status.
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New Mexicans are split on the mandate coming back. “I think just being a good citizen and following what’s going on and not making an issue of it is good, but I don’t agree with it,” said Albuquerque resident Soniah Martinez.
“I’m totally okay with it, yeah, because like I said, people don’t know you and they don’t know if you’re vaccinated or not. And out of courtesy, I think it’s good that people wear it,” Gallup resident Arlinda Bill said.
Around Albuquerque, signs are alerting people to the new mandate in place, saying masks are required in their businesses except when eating or drinking. It comes as metro-area hospitals say they’re “well beyond capacity,” partly because of a recent increase in COVID-19 patients, but also because it’s full of patients who may have delayed health care during the pandemic.
The governor says the mandate is a way to slow down the virus as the highly contagious Delta variant spreads across the state. Hospital leaders addressed the variant at a press conference Thursday. “The delta variant is exceptionally contagious. It has what’s called a ‘r-naught’ of about six. So that means for every one person that has COVID, they spread it to six people,” Dr. Jason Mitchell said, Chief Medical and Clinical Transformation officer with Presbyterian Health Services. “So things are very very different right now. The mortality may not be that different but the spread and the people impacted is much worse.”
The mask mandate also comes as the state reaches a milestone in vaccination with almost 76 percent of adults having at least one shot, and 66 percent now fully vaccinated. The indoor mask mandate will remain in effect at least until Sept. 15.