July 29, 2021

State to require vaccinations or regular tests for state employees

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed an executive order on Thursday that will require all state employees to be either vaccinated or undergo regular COVID-19 testing.

The move, which starts on August 2, comes as vaccine cases statewide grow and as the state recommends all New Mexicans wear masks in public indoor settings. 

State employees who are not vaccinated must wear a facemask while working indoors and submit a negative COVID-19 test at least every two weeks. Those who do not, the announcement said, will be subject to disciplinary action, which could include termination.

Health and elected officials nationwide have been promoting vaccinations as rates slowed in recent months. In New Mexico as of Wednesday, 72.6 percent of those 18+ have received at least one dose of vaccine and 64.5 percent are fully vaccinated.

“Right now, it’s very simple: Get a vaccine, or else you will be tested,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement. “There will be no quarter for this virus within state government offices. I will not tolerate any unnecessary risk within the workforce under my authority. And I strongly encourage other New Mexico government agencies and private sector employers to consider doing the same.

“I certainly look forward to the day that Governor Lujan Grisham mandates that all state employees return to their offices,” House Minority Leader Jim Townsend, R-Artesia, said in a statement. “New Mexicans should reasonably assume they can count on government to work for them instead of waiting on hold endlessly or being discouraged to complete necessary business due to the hurdles in contacting any government office in the state.”

Update: Added quote from Jim Townsend.