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Local and State News

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


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Child welfare monitoring and enforcement have been challenged by the coronavirus pandemic. Teachers, the backbone of the abuse and neglect reporting system, are separated from their students by remote learning. In New Mexico, schools, state agencies, and law enforcement officials say the lack of in-person schooling has required more attention. Reports of "educational neglect" can lead investigators to a household where children are unfed, unkempt, and unschooled. But it can also mean a capable parent has had trouble with Wi-Fi. In Albuquerque, law enforcement officers are applying a light touch to truancy calls that don't result in arrest and regularly connect families to social services.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Forecasters say much of New Mexico will be hot, dry and windy this weekend, with wildfire smoke in some areas. The National Weather Service says there will be record and near-record temperatures ranging from 8 to 17 degrees above normal through Saturday and that winds will strengthen statewide on Sunday, creating concerns about wildfires. Forecasters also say chances for precipitation will be near zero across all of northern and central New Mexico. And the weather service says smoke from a wildfire in eastern Arizona will continue to impact the area around the New Mexico communities of Glenwood, Reserve and Socorro.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is losing ground in efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 as newly reported daily infections hit a record of 488 cases. Three additional deaths from the pandemic also were disclosed Friday by state health officials as fatalities from the pandemic surpassed 900. Bernalillo County, with the state's most populous urban area, accounted for 135 new cases, while Dona Ana had 81. Lea and Chaves counties together accounted for 77 new cases. The state's infection and positivity rates for the spread of the virus are climbing as the administration of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham holds the line on emergency public health restrictions. 


WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Enrolled members of the Navajo Nation will be eligible for payments of up to $1,500 as part of the tribe's response to the coronavirus. President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer on Friday approved the $49 million plan adopted by the tribal council. The funding comes from the tribe's share of federal coronavirus relief funding. Adults will be eligible for payments of $1,500 while minors are eligible for $500. Nez said in a statement that there isn't enough funding to cover payments for all enrolled members of the tribe, so the money should be directed to elders and those most in need.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A group of New Mexico school districts argue in a lawsuit that the Public Education Department is overstepping its authority during the pandemic. From forcing children without the internet to learn remotely to commandeering toilet paper for child care centers, they say the education department's mandates exceed the powers laid out in Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's emergency health order to deal with COVID-19. A number of the school districts represented in the lawsuit are on or near the Navajo Nation, where stakes are high for in-person learning. The region was hit hard early in the pandemic. Now its students, around half of whom cannot connect to the internet, are struggling to keep up with school.


LAS VEGAS (AP) — Federal officials are not offering any explanation for President Donald Trump's comments this week that he has federal law enforcement "watching" the Democratic governors of Nevada and New Mexico ahead of the upcoming election. Trump said in interview Thursday on the Fox Business Network that the U.S. Attorney and U.S. Marshal are watching Nevada. Gov. Steve Sisolak "very strongly" and that likewise the U.S. Marshal and U.S. Attorney in New Mexico were watching that state's Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. The Justice Department referred questions to the White House, which declined to comment on the president's remarks. 


The alleged plot to kidnap Michigan's governor has put a focus on the security of top state officials, who have been the subject of threats and protests across the country this year. In several states, protesters have been armed. Some officials say President Donald Trump needs to turn down his rhetoric against officials, including Michigan's Gretchen Whitmer. Vermont's Republican governor Phil Scott says: "We are reaching a boiling point in this country." State officials are mostly declining to say how they are increasing security, but a new fence is going up around the Executive Mansion in Kentucky.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Multiple business owners in New Mexico have said this October could prove challenging for their businesses since the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, which brings tourists from around the world, was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. California-based commerce data company Womply reported that arts and entertainment businesses in the area bring in a 194% increase in revenue on average during the Balloon Fiesta. A Womply official said the event is comparable to Louisville's Kentucky Derby or Phoenix's Cactus League. Last year, the event generated an estimated economic impact of more than $186 million on the Albuquerque area and $6.5 million in tax revenues for the state.