New Mexico updates public health order following CDC changes

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico’s emergency public health order was streamlined Friday, with state health officials saying the changes were in order given the evolution of the virus, the changing nature of the pandemic and new recommendations adopted by the federal government.

The move comes after the nation’s top public health agency relaxed its COVID-19 guidelines and dropped the recommendation that Americans quarantine themselves if they come into close contact with an infected person. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also said people no longer need to stay at least 6 feet away from others.

Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase said it’s clear by the CDC’s adoption of less restrictive measures that the U.S. — New Mexico included — is in a different place than two years ago.

“Over the past eight months, we have excelled in implementing the tools to minimize the spread of COVID-19 such as vaccines, boosters, home testing and oral treatments that have helped reduce hospitalizations and deaths,” Scrase said in a statement.

Among the changes for New Mexico, state officials say the Health Department will no longer require weekly testing for healthcare workers whose vaccine status is not up to date.

Employees and volunteers working in state correctional facilities still will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19, unless they qualify for an exemption. Hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities also were advised to evaluate CDC community transmission levels in their regions and adopt more stringent precautions, if needed.

New Mexico’s order will be in effect until Aug. 26.