ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico will require that all state government employees get the coronavirus vaccine or face weekly COVID-19 testing, moving in sync Thursday with federal authorities to shore up rates of immunization.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced at a news conference that New Mexico will join the federal government, California and New York City in requiring immunization or regular testing for their public employees.
The changes for New Mexico take effect Aug. 2 under a newly signed executive order. Employees who flout the rules can be disciplined, including job termination.
Lujan Grisham emphasized inconveniences that await state employees who are eligible for vaccination but unwilling.
“In addition to being masked, you will be required to prove routine testing,” she said. “Our goal is to get every state employee vaccinated.”
She said that people who are eligible for vaccination and opt out are giving the virus an opportunity to mutate and spread.
President Joe Biden on Thursday announced sweeping new pandemic requirements for millions of federal workers. He denounced a tragedy of rising-yet-preventable deaths among unvaccinated U.S. employees and others.
In other COVID-19 precautions, New Mexico's largest school district is requiring all students, employees and visitors to wear masks when in school facilities and school buses, whether individuals are vaccinated or not.
The Albuquerque Public Schools board's 5-1 vote Wednesday to impose the requirement follows new federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance.
“We’ve said all along that we’ve tried to follow the science,” Superintendent Scott Elder said.
The blanket policy is to avoid dividing students into groups of vaccinated and unvaccinated and not have principals and teachers serve as “the vaccination patrol,” Elder said.
In another development, the University of New Mexico announced that effective Monday it will require that all people wear masks while indoors on the main campus in Albuquerque and satellite locations in Los Lunas, Taos and Rio Rancho.
The requirement applies to all people regardless of vaccination status, the university said.