Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 5:20 p.m. MDT
- NUCLEAR WEAPONS-LOS ALAMOS
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The National Nuclear Security Administration says it doesn't need to do an additional environmental review for Los Alamos National Laboratory before it begins producing key components for the nation's nuclear arsenal. The agency says it already has sufficient information. Watchdog groups are concerned about Tuesday's announcement, saying the plutonium pit production work will amount to a vast expansion of the lab's nuclear mission and that more analysis should be done. The government has set a deadline to produce 80 plutonium pits per year by 2030. The work will be shared between Los Alamos and the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A top state health official is warning that COVID-19 infections are far more prevalent in low-income areas of the New Mexico, potentially straining Medicaid health care. Human Services Secretary David Scrase said Wednesday that an analysis of infection rates by census tract shows that highly impoverished areas have infection rates seven times higher than the most affluent zones. Health officials announced 154 newly confirmed infections statewide, led by Dona Ana County in southern New Mexico with 33, and three related deaths. State health officials are wary that festivities over the Labor Day holiday weekend could lead to renewed surges in COVID-19 infections.
- SPACEPORT AMERICA-INVESTIGATION
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The interim leader of Spaceport America says an investigation into the conduct of the organization's chief executive officer is ongoing and that initial findings are expected in the coming weeks. Scott McLaughlin testified Wednesday before a New Mexico legislative panel, saying the recent shakeup stemming from a whistleblower complaint filed in June has left the spaceport in a difficult situation. Dan Hicks was placed on administrative leave after being accused of circumventing internal financial controls and accounting procedures. State auditors are reviewing the spaceport's finances, and McLaughlin said all capital projects also are being assessed because of the open investigation.
- DRONE ACCIDENT-NEW MEXICO
HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AP) — The U.S. military says an Air Force attack drone was damaged Wednesday when it went off a runway during takeoff at Holloman Air Force Base in southern New Mexico. Base officials said in a statement that the remotely piloted MQ-9 Reaper assigned to the 49th Wing was the only aircraft involved. The statement said a board of Air Force officers will investigate the accident to determine the cause. The base is 79 miles north of El Paso, Texas.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico health officials have reported 110 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 and eight related deaths. Tuesday's coronavirus statistics show that Dona Ana County had the most new infections, with 32 cases. Cumulative statewide deaths from the coronavirus now number 787. The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in New Mexico has decreased over the past two weeks, going from 156 new cases per day on Aug. 17 to 127 new cases per day on Aug. 31. That's according to an analysis by The Associated Press of data collected by Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering.
- AIR POLLUTION-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico environmental regulators have issued citations against natural gas processing plants on allegations they vastly exceeded permitted air pollution limits while burning off excess natural gas. The New Mexico Environment Department on Tuesday announced compliance orders against plant operators DCP Operating Company and Energy Transfer Partners with potential fines in excess of $7 million. The agency said the excess pollutants may contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone and other hazardous air-quality conditions.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NAVAJO NATION
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Navajo Nation officials are extending partial weekend lockdowns and daily curfews through September to help control the spread of the coronavirus on the tribe's reservation. The lockdowns on the vast reservation in the Four Corners region start at 9 p.m. Saturday and run until 5 a.m. Monday. Daily curfews run from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. President Jonathan Nez says residents still have time on Saturdays to prepare for the winter season by gathering firewood, food, water and other supplies. But the public should avoid traveling to nearby towns and cities on the weekends. Travel increases the risk of infection and bringing it home to family.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-FEDERAL RELIEF-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Santa Fe area emerged as a major beneficiary of federal relief funds for local government, as the state of New Mexico assigned nearly $100 million to towns, cities and counties to offset spending on the pandemic response. The city of Santa Fe was awarded $17.6 million in possible reimbursements and Santa Fe County can receive up to $10.5 — accounting together for 28% of direct grant awards announced on Tuesday. McKinley County, which has the state's highest tally of COVID-19 infections per capita, received an outsized direct grant award of $16.1 million.