NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – The Centers for Disease Control updated its mask guidelines for vaccinated people and outdoor settings. So will New Mexico follow suit? And when might vaccinated people see more eased COVID-restrictions from the state?
Dr. David Scrase, Secretary for New Mexico’s Human Services Department, told KRQE News 13 on Tuesday that the CDC’s announcement is a glimpse of what’s to come — added benefits from widespread vaccinations. “We’ve actually been looking forward to the day where CDC was taking more of a lead,” said Dr. Scrase.
“We’re all on it, we’re just trying to be considerate of our state with its very high social vulnerability index, the highest in the country,” Dr. Scrase added. He said he’s meeting Tuesday with the state’s epidemiology team, Health Secretary – Dr. Tracie Collins, and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham – to discuss the new CDC mask guidelines. State leaders plan to address the topic during a press conference on Wednesday, April 28.
Dr. Scrase also said the state is finalizing its plan to incorporate vaccine data and people with immunity from already having the virus into the state’s gating criteria. State data shows about 9.5% of the population has had COVID-19. That does not include unconfirmed, asymptomatic cases.
Data from the NMDOH shows more than 41% of New Mexicans are fully vaccinated. That has some people asking when the state will start seeing things open up more because of that.
“I think we’re just in that awkward middle period between severe pandemic and most people being vaccinated, where we’re moving it one step at a time,” said Dr. Scrase. “I think we’re gonna see more and more benefits as time goes on,” he added.
Now that vaccine supply exceeds demand in New Mexico, Dr. Scrase also addressed vaccine hesitancy. “If you’re a 25-year-old invulnerable male who you know, ‘no matter what happens to me I’ll be great’ – you know, that’s not how it’s played out,” Dr. Scrase said. “Most folks have underlying conditions, but a lot of folks don’t, a lot of younger people haven’t. So it’s still, I think a gamble.”
He said most New Mexicans likely have a relative with a preexisting condition. “Every single one of those people in your family are another reason to get the vaccine,” said Dr. Scrase.
On Tuesday, Oregon announced masks are no longer required for non-contact sports if athletes are distanced six feet apart. While it’s unclear at this point if New Mexico will do something similar, Dr. Scrase told KRQE News 13 he feels really optimistic about where the state stands. “I’m looking forward to a very positive experience this summer,” he said.
He also made a plea to New Mexican parents, asking them to keep kids home if they’re feeling sick so that schools can remain open. “I’m talking about bad allergies, headaches, you know stuffed up nose, mild cough, any symptoms at all,” he explained.
Wednesday’s COVID-19 news conference with state leaders will be at 1 p.m. MST.