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Local and State News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 4:20 p.m. MDT


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico health officials have reported an additional 291 COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total of confirmed infections to 13,063. State officials also announced Saturday another two death were reported, both out of McKinley County. The state now has 513 deaths related to the novel coronavirus. The state's most populous county, Bernalillo, led all others with 79 additional cases reported for the day. In southern New Mexico, Doña Ana County reported an additional 56 cases. There are 121 individuals hospitalized in New Mexico for COVID-19. This number may include individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 out of state but are currently hospitalized in New Mexico. 


LOVINGTON, N.M. (AP) — Authorities in one southeastern New Mexico community are frustrated with the state's bail reforms, saying the justice system is now failing Lovington by releasing repeat offenders from custody. Police officers tell the Lovington Daily Leader they know many offenders on a first-name basis because they have to arrest them over and over — often for the same charges but different victims. Prosecutors and law enforcement say some crimes are committed by people with mental health issues and that officers have been forced to take on the role of social workers.


RIO RANCHO, N.M, (AP) — Associated Press writer Russell Contreras has always had trouble with the July Fourth holiday due to his family's Mexican American past. But then he began looking at America's Independence Day through the eyes of his Uncle Ciprian. The U.S. Marine took part in the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II and suffered a concussion. After he was rescued, he was asked — while wounded — to go back and fight. Ciprian volunteered and was injured again. Contreras now wonders: What did Ciprian see in the U.S.? Today, Contreras says his family celebrates the Fourth by sharing Ciprian's story and other heroic tales of people of color.


MAGDELENA, N.M. (AP) — A wildfire in southern New Mexico continues to grow. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Saturday the blaze in the Apache Kid Wilderness has grown to 18 square miles (46.62 square kilometers). Officials say it is 39% contained. The department says crews will continue to monitor the fire, rehabilitate recreation sites, fences, cultural sites, private land inholdings, and critical habitat in the fire perimeter. The fire was caused by lightning. 


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico officials have announced that the Federal Highway Administration has designated the state's first alternative fuel corridors. The Las Cruces Sun-News reports the state's Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department said the federal agency designated New Mexico's first alternative fuel corridors after years of not participating in the program. New Mexico was one of just four states not yet participating in a program that helps federal, state and local governments and private companies plan and build an interstate network of alternative fuel stations.  Federal designations exist for electric, hydrogen, propane, and natural gas stations, with different criteria for each fuel. 


ESPAÑOLA, N.M. (AP) — The undersheriff of a New Mexico sheriff's office is the subject of an investigation following the arrest of the county's sheriff in an obstruction case. KOB-TV reports special prosecutor Andrea Reeb said this week she is looking into the actions of Rio Arriba Undersheriff Martin Trujillo in connection with a May 21 episode. The Española Police Department and Taos County Sheriff's Office were attempting on that say to serve a warrant for a cell phone from Rio Arriba County Sheriff James Lujan. A Taos County deputy says Trujillo ordered Rio Arriba County sheriff's deputies to draw their guns on the investigators. The Rio Arriba Sheriff's Office declined to comment.


 SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's Health Secretary Kathyleen Kunkel on Friday announced her intention to retire once the current wave of coronavirus infections subsides. Kunkel, an attorney and former pediatric social worker, cited the physical and mental demands of her work on the state's efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who once led the Department of Health, announced a nationwide search for a successor. Kunkel was appointed in January 2019. The state also is recruiting a new state epidemiologist after the recent departure of Michael Landen. On Friday, health officials reported an additional 257 COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total of confirmed infections to 12,776.


RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — About 150 preachers, rabbis and imams are promising to invoke Black abolitionist Frederick Douglass on July 4th as they call for the U.S. to tackle racism and poverty. The religious leaders are scheduled this weekend to frame sermons around "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July" on the 168th anniversary of that speech by Douglass. The initiative is led by the Poor People's Campaign, a coalition of religious leaders seeking to push the U.S. to address issues of poverty modeled after Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s last crusade. Douglass gave his speech at a celebration on July 5, 1852, in Rochester, New York.