Correction Appended

ROSWELL, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico nurse practitioner is ignoring the statewide mask mandate in what the state is calling a “shocking” move. A sign posted outside the clinic said patients do not have to wear a mask inside.

KRQE News 13 spoke with Krasimir Hristov who owns and runs a medical center called Reinecke Medical and Chiropractic in Roswell off of College Boulevard. He compared the current public health order to Nazi Germany and believes masks are useless against the virus.

As you walk into the medical center, you will see a sign that starts off by saying, “This isn’t Nazi Germany and we aren’t the Gestapo. If you do or do not want to wear a mask you are still welcome here.”

“When we enforce our rule on people, that is a dictatorship,” said Hristov. “When we have the freedom to inform people so they can make an educated decision, that’s democracy.”

Hristov has owned the medical center since 2013 and stands by the sign he posted. He said his own research shows, “Masks are proven useless against airborne viruses.”

“Your eyes are very much exposed, regardless of what kind of mask you have,” said Hristov. “So when people come in and they have a mask and their eyes are exposed basically what that means they still have an open portal of entry where the virus could get in.”

However, that advice goes against the guidance from the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control, and New Mexico’s top doctor, Dr. David Scrase. Scrase remains adamant that wearing a mask both protects you and helps prevent the spread of COVID-19, even relating masks’ protective qualities back to the medical field.

“If you had to have an upcoming surgery, how comfortable would you feel with your operating team not wearing masks or not wearing gloves,” said Scrase. “I haven’t run into anybody yet who would feel comfortable with that kind of scenario.”

The New Mexico Human Services Department responded to Hristov’s sign by email that said in part: 

“All New Mexicans are required to wear masks at this time, especially when visiting medical clinics. It is shocking that a medical provider would encourage their patients not to wear masks and blatantly put them at risk of contracting COVID-19.

The New Mexico Department of Health, New Mexico State Police, and New Mexico Environment Department will continue to enforce violations of the Public Health Order, which include criminal and civil penalties. This particular clinic will also be referred to the New Mexico Chiropractic Board for any additional sanctions as deemed necessary.” 

The New Mexico Human Services Department

But still, Hristov doesn’t think masks should be a requirement. “People are exposed to the virus or to people’s germs no matter where they go,” said Hristov. 

Last week, the City of Roswell voted not to enforce the state’s mask requirement. However, the New Mexico Department of Health and State Police are still enforcing the mandate. 

Correction: In an earlier version of this story, Krasimir Hristov was referred to as Dr. Krafimir Hirstov the spelling of his name has been corrected. Hristov’s title has also been corrected to note that he is not a doctor but is a nurse practitioner.