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Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. MDT

  • Reports on Trinity Test fallout, cancer cases to be released

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Government scientists never discounted the potential for radioactive fallout before detonating the world's first atomic bomb at a military outpost in New Mexico in 1945. Residents of the Tularosa Basin have been fighting since then for recognition from the U.S. government, saying generations of people have been dealing with cancer and other effects from the blast. After years of research, the National Cancer Institute on Tuesday finally plans to release a series of papers related to radiation doses and cancer risks resulting from the Trinity Test. Legislation to include the downwinders in a federal compensation program is pending in Congress.

  • Heat, drought make for miserable combo for southwest US

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — It's grim news for the western U.S. The latest maps show most of the southern half of the region is mired by drought, with the most extreme conditions centered over parts of Utah, Nevada, Arizona and Colorado. Some parts of Nevada have gone months without measurable rain. New Mexico's state climatologist says his state has its own problems, where drought has been compounded by dismal spring runoff and now a nearly nonexistent monsoon season. Dave DuBois says many measures — such as precipitation, soil moisture and reservoir levels — are all below average in New Mexico and across the Southwest.

  • New Mexico aims for 5% reduction in annual state spending

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The administration of New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is directing executive agencies to reduce annual spending by 5% to help ease an anticipated budget deficit for the coming fiscal year. Agency budget proposal are due Tuesday in an annual rite that provides time for legislators to craft a balanced budget before they reconvene in January. A memo to state agencies obtained by The Associated Press calls for a 5% reduction in general fund levels for the fiscal year starting on July 1, 2021, compared with current-year spending. That is in line with recommendation from the Legislature's budget and accountability office. 

  • Democratic Party launches hotline on voting procedures

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Democratic Party of New Mexico hopes to broaden participation in the Nov. 3 election as it launches a daytime telephone hotline and online resources about balloting. State Democratic Party Executive Director Chelsey Evans said the initiative begins Monday and aims to inform voters about new options and deadlines for requesting and casting absentee ballots. The coronavirus pandemic already reshaped voting in New Mexico during the June primary as absentee voting by mail or drop-off delivery soared in popularity. Temporary election reforms were adopted in June by the Legislature and governor that alter ballot-request deadlines, add a new signature requirement and provide ballot tracking by postal barcodes.

  • Navajo Nation reports 11 new COVID-19 cases, 1 new death

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Navajo Nation health officials report 11 new confirmed cases of coronavirus and one additional death. The latest numbers released Sunday bring the total number of people infected to 9,800 with 502 known deaths. Tribal health officials said 94,403 people have been tested for COVID-19 and 7,057 have recovered. The Navajo Nation lifted its stay-at-home order on Aug. 16, but is asking residents to leave their homes only for emergencies or essential activities. Much of the Navajo Nation has been closed since March as the coronavirus swept through the vast reservation that extends into New Mexico, Utah and Arizona.  

  • New Mexico decides on relief funding for local governments

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's administration has reached a decision on how to distribute $100 million in federal coronavirus relief funds to local governments. Finance agency spokesman Henry Valdez said Monday that county and municipal governments were being notified and details will be made public Tuesday. The state is taking into consideration local compliance with its emergency health orders that can be costly to local governments. That has also led to concerns of possible favoritism amid clashes between local and state officials over the governor's approach to reopening the economy. Applications for relief funding have far exceeded the amount that is available.

  • Number of Navajo Nation deaths tied to COVID-19 reaches 500

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Navajo Nation health officials say the confirmation of a new death brings the number of fatalities from coronavirus to 500. The Navajo Nation on Friday night reported the additional death as well as 14 more confirmed cases of COVID-19. That brings the total number of people infected to 9,780. But that includes 165 cases that occurred between early April and mid-August and were recently identified as COVID-19 related. Navajo officials said 94,099 people have been tested for the coronavirus and 7,032 have recovered. The Navajo Nation lifted its stay-at-home order on Aug. 16, but is asking residents to go out for emergencies or essentials.  

  • Judge blocks asylum screening by border protection agents

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A federal judge has blocked U.S. Customs and Border Protection employees from conducting the initial screening for people seeking asylum. The ruling Monday has dealt a setback to one of the Trump administration's efforts to rein in asylum. The government argued that designated CBP employees are trained comparably to asylum officers at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, another agency within the Homeland Security Department. U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon in Washington called that argument "poppycock!" The nationwide injunction will likely have little, if any, immediate impact because the government has effectively suspended asylum during the coronavirus pandemic.