Local hospitals are ditching their mask mandates.
Presbyterian, University of New Mexico Health, Christus St. Vincent and the Lovelace health systems announced Friday that patients and providers will no longer be required to wear masks in most settings.
The change goes into effect April 16. The hospitals said in a joint news release that the move is being done in accordance with guidance and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the New Mexico Department of Health and other public health experts.
The announcement came on the last day of the state’s public health emergency declaration.
“The think this announcement … is a sign of the forward progress we’re making as we move towards the end of the pandemic,” said Dr. Steve McLaughlin, the chief medical officer at UNM Hospital. “This is definitely a step forward for us and I think it will be a benefit to our patients and their families, and our staff.”
There are exceptions to the move, he said. For example, depending on the symptoms, a patient could be required to wear a mask. And masks are required in operating rooms and around “particularly vulnerable populations.”
McLaughlin said the number of patients with COVID at UNMH on any given day continues to dwindle. “I would say something 10 times less than what we saw during the peak of the pandemic,” he said. “So the numbers are really small.”
New Mexico on Friday reported zero COVID deaths and 214 new cases, according to the Health Department website.
McLaughlin said patients and providers are encouraged with wear masks if they would be more comfortable doing so.
The health systems said masks may be re-instituted if community transmission rates for COVID and other viruses increase.