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Local and State News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 1:20 a.m. MDT

  • FIRE DANGER-NEW MEXICO

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico State Forester Laura McCarthy says summer rains are starting to put a dent in the fire danger so she's decided to lift fire restrictions. The restrictions had been put in place in May for all non-municipal, non-federal and non-tribal lands. McCarthy on Friday urged people to still be careful, saying there's always a chance a wildfire can start. She pointed to northern and eastern parts of New Mexico where drought conditions have been the most severe. The Forestry Division will continue monitoring conditions statewide and could reimpose restrictions if the fire danger worsens.

  • PLAGUE-NAVAJO NATION

HOLBROOK, Ariz. (AP) — County health officials in northeastern Arizona said a man has contracted the human plague and are warning the public to take precautions to limit the risk of exposure. Navajo County Assistant Manager Bryan Layton said Friday that a man over the age of 55 was being treated for the disease amid an investigation into how it was contracted. Humans typically get plague after being bitten by an infected flea that is carrying the plague bacterium or by handling an animal infected with plague. The Navajo County Health Department encouraged people to avoid rodent burrows and keep dogs on a leash.

  • RACIAL INJUSTICE-NEW MEXICO

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Democratic-led city of Albuquerque is asking the U.S. Justice Department for written assurances that a surge of federal agents won't be used to police protests or to target immigrant families and racial and ethnic minorities. In a letter to the Justice Department's U.S. attorney in Albuquerque on Friday, a city official said Albuquerque does not welcome federal agents making arrests and using force on individuals engaged in First Amendment assemblies. The White House announced this week that federal agents will deploy to Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee and Albuquerque to combat violent crime. The city says federal agents should identify themselves to the public and wear body cameras.

  • AP-US-NUCLEAR-WEAPONS-TESTING

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A defense spending bill pending in Congress includes an apology to New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and other states affected by nuclear testing over the decades. But communities downwind from the first atomic test in 1945 are still holding out for compensation amid rumblings about the potential for the U.S. to resume nuclear testing. While the U.S. House has adopted language prohibiting spending on such an effort, a group of senators has included $10 million for testing preparation. Details of the spending bill have yet to be hashed out, but the Union of Concerned Scientists, nuclear watchdogs and environmentalists are pushing for the funding to be eliminated. 

  • VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says there are not enough people are wearing masks. She said during her latest briefing that she wants to see at least 80% or 90% of people wearing face coverings. The state's mandate that everyone must wear a mask in public has been in effect since May 16, and the Democratic governor vowed more enforcement at the start of July. But since then, New Mexico State Police officers have issued only one citation for a violation. Virus-related deaths have surpassed 600. There are 317 newly confirmed infections.

  • BESIEGED HOSPITAL-NEW MEXICO

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The former CEO of a rural hospital in northwestern New Mexico is alleging in a lawsuit that his contract was unfairly terminated in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Filed in federal court on Thursday, the lawsuit from David Conejo and his hospital management company takes aim at the board chairwoman and medical staff at Rehoboth McKinley Christian Hospital in Gallup. Doctors and nurses at Rehoboth staged a public protest in May to criticize staffing levels and call for the ouster of Conejo. The lawsuit seeks payment for damages to Conejo's reputation and loss of earnings.

  • VIRUS OUTBREAK-NAVAJO NATION

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Employees of the Navajo Nation casinos have been told to prepare for the possibility they will not receive paychecks while on administrative leave. The tribe's three casinos in northwestern New Mexico and one in northern Arizona have been shuttered for months because of the coronavirus. But the 1,180 majority Navajo employees have remained on the payroll with benefits. Brian Parrish heads the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise. He says a final decision on layoffs will come over the weekend. He says the enterprise is running low on cash reserves but has submitted proposals to tribal leaders for a share of federal virus relief money that went directly to the tribal government.

  • CHIRICAHUA LEOPARD FROG

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — A rare frog has been found beyond its known range in the U.S. Southwest. A U.S. Forest Service volunteer recently photographed a Chiricahua leopard frog in an earthen stock tank near the town of Camp Verde in central Arizona. The agency says biologists later confirmed that at least 10 of the frogs were living there. Biologists plan to visit the area to determine if there are more. The aquatic frogs were thought to be only in eastern Arizona, western New Mexico and northern Mexico but historically were more widespread. The frogs' numbers have declined because of habitat loss, disease and predators.