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Local and State News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 p.m. MDT


LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — A member of a New Mexico school board who made a key vote that ended up removing the name of a Spanish conquistador from a high school now regrets her decision. The Las Cruces Sun-News reports Carol Cooper of the Las Cruces Public Schools Board of Education said she wishes she could go back in time and reverse her decisive July 14 vote to remove the name of Don Juan de Oñate from Oñate High School. Las Cruces school board members voted 3-1 in favor of changing the name during a virtual special meeting July 14. It remains unclear if the board can revisit.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico health officials say they have found a case of bubonic plague. The New Mexico Department of Health reported Monday that a Santa Fe County man in his 60s has the plague. He is recovering at a hospital. According to health officials, an environmental investigation is being done around the man's home to see if his immediate family or neighbors face any risk. Department of Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel says this case is a reminder there are other infectious diseases to be aware of besides COVID-19. It is the state's first case of bubonic plague this year.


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) — Hundreds of people who had been on paid leave from their jobs with the Navajo Nation's gambling enterprise won't be paid after Monday. The Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise had kept 1,180 people on the payroll since March when its casinos in New Mexico and Arizona shut down because of the coronavirus. The enterprise says it no longer can afford to support the full payroll. The enterprise's interim chief executive says 900 employees will be among the initial layoffs. Another 125 will be paid for another week. The total number of people infected on the vast reservation now stands above 8,890 with 439 known deaths as of Sunday night. 


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.