NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – You may be seeing more people in masks. As COVID-19 cases surge in the U.S. with the more contagious delta variant, the CDC is now suggesting fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors in some places. While some New Mexicans are annoyed with the thought of wearing masks again, others are ok with it.
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“I wouldn’t really have a problem with doing it because I’ve just gotten so used to it anyway. And it doesn’t really hurt,” said Jalan Ziyad, an Albuquerque resident.
“I think it’s ok if it means keeping people safe and people who aren’t vaccinated yet,” said AJ Beach, an Albuquerque resident.
The updated recommendations said masks should be worn indoors, even when fully vaccinated, in counties where COVID transmission is ‘substantial’ or ‘high.’ One indicator of that is the total number of new cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days being 50 or higher. In New Mexico, that applies to 14 counties including Bernalillo, Sandoval, and Valencia counties in the metro area.
It’s been less than a month since the state got rid of the color-coded reopening system which many felt like we were once again returning to normalcy. For some New Mexicans, going back to wearing masks indoors feels like mask-whiplash. But for others, they don’t mind. “If it’s going to help people and save people it should be done,” said Albuquerque local Robert Wilkeson. ‘Like I said, we’re trying to save people so why not do it?”
While some businesses choose to require masks, others like the Range Cafe, said it will continue to follow the latest guidelines from the CDC.
“We will have a sign on our door that says the CDC recommends that you wear a mask and that we are following those guidelines as well. All will strictly be a recommendation. We’re not going to make anyone do it who doesn’t want to do it, but you know, we will suggest to our staff it’s probably a good idea to wear it and follow those guidelines,” said Matt DiGregory, owner of the Range Cafe.
The governor’s office issued the following statement:
“Pursuant to the state’s operative public health order, which states that “fully vaccinated individuals are not required to wear a mask unless otherwise recommended by the latest official guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” the state recommends, in accordance with the latest official guidance from the CDC issued July 27, that fully vaccinated New Mexicans wear a face-covering in indoor settings out of an abundance of caution. As outlined by federal health officials, the more transmissible Delta variant continues to spread through primarily unvaccinated populations and can be carried by vaccinated individuals. The state’s recommendation, mirroring CDC guidance, is intended to reduce risk and viral transmission in New Mexico. The governor and state health officials will continue to closely monitor transmission and vaccination data and trends, and given the continuing spread of the Delta variant through unvaccinated populations and the potential for increased risk to vaccinated populations, evaluate whether updated state guidance is required. Meanwhile, PED in coordination with state health officials is evaluating the CDC’s updated guidance, issued this afternoon, with respect to the agency’s re-entry plan, issued Monday. Unvaccinated New Mexicans are urged to schedule their vaccination appointments immediately at VaccineNM.org.”Nora Meyers Sackett, Press Secretary for the Governor’s Office.
The CDC is recommending all individuals at schools including students and staff, wear masks indoors. On Monday, the state’s Public Education Department said masks weren’t required for all students or staff if vaccinated. After the CDC’s recommendations, the PED released this statement on Tuesday:
“The New Mexico Public Education Department’s guidance included in the COVID-19 Response Toolkit we issued yesterday stands for now as we review the latest recommendations from the CDC with our public health colleagues.”PED Secretary Ryan Stewart
According to CDC data, about 63% of the nation’s counties are in the ‘substantial’ or ‘high’ level of COVID transmission risk.