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Local and State News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. MDT


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A Roswell physician says he will not force anyone to wear a mask at his clinic. KRQE-TV in Albuquerque reported Sunday that Dr. Krafimir Hirstov is likening the state mandate to wear face coverings because of coronavirus to "a dictatorship." Hirstov owns Reinecke Medical and Chiropractic medical center. Hirstov also believes masks are ultimately useless against airborne viruses. Roswell city officials voted last week not to enforce the state mask requirement. New Mexico health officials called Hirstov's attitude "shocking" for a medical provider. They will refer the clinic to the state's chiropractic board for possible sanctions. 


WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Navajo Nation health officials report 54 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and five additional deaths. The total number of people infected on the reservation now stands at 8,891 with 439 known deaths as of Sunday night. Tribal health officials said 77,156 people have undergone testing and 6,547 have recovered from the virus. The latest weekend lockdown that includes the closure of businesses began after sunset Friday and ended early Monday morning. The tribe also has implemented daily and nighttime curfews. Residents of the vast reservation that extends into Arizona, New Mexico and Utah have also been under a mandate to wear masks when out in public.  


CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico woman was allowed to leave jail to attend her son's funeral but never returned has been sentenced. The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports Angela Sotelo pleaded no contest this month to an attempting to escape charge. According to a criminal complaint, a state judge allowed Sotelo to attend the funeral of her son in August 2019 on a furlough. But Sotelo never returned at her assigned time. Police eventually found Sotelo on Dec. 5 and charged her with escaping from jail, failure to appear and failure to comply. She was sentenced to three years in prison.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico health officials say the state has 324 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the state to 18,788. State data released Saturday by the state Department of Health also showed six new deaths from the novel coronavirus. The number of deaths in New Mexico related to COVID-19 now stands at 607. Bernalillo County led all counties in new cases with 93. Dona Ana County reported 64 new cases. There are 148 people hospitalized with the virus, 32 of them on ventilators, and 7,268 designated as having recovered,


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico sheriff, whose office is plagued by racial profiling lawsuits, said deputies will be outfitted with new superhero-style restraining devices but not body cameras. The Albuquerque Journal reports the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Office is giving 20 deputies a BolaWrap. That's a handheld device that shoots a Kevlar wire, which wraps around a fleeing suspect several times and restricts movement. Each device costs about $1,000. The move comes as Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales said he can't afford to purchase body cameras for his deputies as now required by state law. Gonzales said he is looking to allow deputies to put smartphones in their vests and record video.


RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — The nation's oldest Latino civil rights organization says it strongly supports Ethnic Studies programs in colleges and won't participate in the "glorification of historical figures" like Spanish conquistadors. The League of United Latin American Citizens said Friday it endorses the growth and establishment of college programs that focus on Latino and Native American voices. The statement came after New Mexico LULAC Executive Director Ralph Arellanes wrote that the state's largest university should dismantle programs and censor classes that mention Spanish conquistadors committed genocide against Indigenous populations. Arellanes denied that he was talking about Chicano Studies or Native American Studies but scholars around the country said he was.


MONTEZUMA, N.M. (AP) — Federal immigration officials have rescinded a directive that would have kept international students from attending colleges in the United States, but it's not going to help the United World College. Most of the students who attend the northern New Mexico school still are shut out from entering the U.S. because of travel bans and their inability to obtain F-1 visas due to the closure of consulates worldwide. School officials say about three-quarters of the 220 teenage students are from foreign lands. Students can participate in online courses, but officials say those in many countries don't always have easy access to the internet.


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.