Oct. 16—SANTA FE — New Mexico on Friday remained one of the seven states with mask mandates, with the extension of a public health order requiring their usage regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status in indoor public spaces.
The mask mandate, first implemented in August with concerns of the Delta variant, has received its second 30-day extension and will remain in effect through at least Nov. 12. Acting Health Secretary David Scrase said state hospitals have a short supply of staffed hospital beds and the mandate is a measure to alleviate those issues.
"Many of us just assume that if we develop a serious illness, there will be an ICU bed available for us," Scrase said in a release announcing the health order extension. "That has not been the case for every New Mexican over the past six weeks. It is not time to abandon basic precautions. Our hospital and health care partners remain incredibly, incredibly concerned about the serious illnesses they are dealing with, and the pressure placed upon their institutions and personnel by these continuing infections.
"Tight-fitting masks make a difference. Wearing one protects you and your family."
House Minority Leader Jim Townsend, R-Artesia, said it is past time for the mandates to end.
"Renewal of the mask mandate reveals how deep-set (Gov. Michelle) Lujan Grisham's failures in COVID efforts have been," Townsend said. "If New Mexico truly was on the leading edge of prevention and vaccination, then why is our state one of only a handful with a forced mask mandate? Even California, the state that Lujan Grisham desperately seeks approval from, has lifted mask mandates for vaccinated citizens. Lujan Grisham is addicted to this crisis and unlimited power; that is why I encourage New Mexicans to call their legislators and demand that this change immediately."
The other states with indoor mask mandates are Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, according to a Friday report from the AARP.
Friday case report: The state reported 801 new cases of COVID-19 Friday with 11 additional deaths. The case counts locally included nine Curry County cases, seven Roosevelt County cases and one Curry County death.
Through Oct. 15, Curry County has recorded 154 cases of COVID-19. That would put the county on a pace for 327 cases for the entire month, which would be more than double the July total of 137 but less than half of either August (869) or September (741).
Roosevelt County has recorded 72 cases in the first 15 days of October. That would put the county on pace for 149 infections for October, roughly half of the total for August (304) and a drop from September (192).
A total of five local deaths were reported this week, all Curry County residents. A man in his 70s and a man in his 80s were reported Tuesday, while a man and woman each in their 70s were reported Wednesday. Friday's report included a man in his 40s, bringing the county's death total from the disease to 109.
Roosevelt County has recorded 65 deaths, with its last reported death Oct. 4.