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New Mexico Sen. Jeff Steinborn, D-Doña Ana, introduced legislation Jan. 3 to provide free high-quality KN 95 facemasks and Covid-19 home testing kits to New Mexicans, Steinborn said in a news release.
Steinborn said his bills would appropriate $10 million to the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) to pay for up to four KN 95 masks and $50 million to NMDOH to pay for two home test kits for all New Mexico residents.
The state has more than $500 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) funding remaining to be appropriated in the upcoming 2022 legislative session, the news release said.
The legislation will be considered during the 2022 session of the New Mexico Legislature, which convenes Jan. 18 for a 30-day session.
“It’s important New Mexico stay on the offensive against Covid-19 and do all we can to keep people safe,” Steinborn said. “This funding can help provide some of the most powerful tools we have to limit the spread of Covid, and that’s high-quality masks, and convenient accessible tests.”
N 95 and KN 95 masks are designed to offer the greatest protection from Covid particles being inhaled, preventing up to 95 percent of infectious particles, as compared to a surgical or cloth facemask, the news release said. According to medical experts, cloth masks may only provide up to 30 percent protection against Covid, while surgical masks provide approximately 60 percent protection, Steinborn said.
“At this stage of the pandemic we really need to make N 95 and KN 95 masks widely available, and the standard we should all wear,” he said.
Steinborn serves on the Senate Finance Committee, responsible for constructing the state budget. He was elected to the state Senate in 2016 and re-elected in 2020. He served in the New Mexico House of Representatives 2007-10 and 2013-16.