Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 9:20 p.m. MDT
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO
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.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NAVAJO NATION
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.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK—EDUCATION LAWSUIT
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.
- ELECTION 2020-TRUMP-GOVERNORS
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.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO
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.
- PUBLIC SCHOOLS-TEACHER GRANTS
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — State officials say they're making funds available to mid-level public school teachers to cover the cost of continuing education certifications that can lead to a significant salary increase. The Public Education Department says it will cover the approximately $2,000 cost of pursuing National Board Certified Teacher credentials to become a "Level 3" teacher. Teachers who complete the certification are eligible for a nearly $7,000 pay increase. Teacher salary increases were reined into 1% for the current school year in response to the economic downturn from the coronavirus, as educators pay for unexpected expenses related to the pivot to online learning.
- GILA FOREST-FIRE DANGER
SILVER CITY, N.M. (AP) — Federal officials say the national forest that covers much of mountainous southwestern New Mexico again faces a high fire danger. The Gila National Forest headquartered in Silver City said Thursday that's due to warm temperatures and limited precipitation from what turned out to be a below-average monsoon season. Officials said a "high" fire danger rating means that all fine dead fuels ignite readily and that fires start easily from most causes. Also, unattended brush and camp fires are likely to spread. Forest officials urged hunters, campers, woodcutters and other forest users to be vigilant and to avoid using anything with an open flame or spark.