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Local and State News

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


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is preparing to speak publicly about the spread of COVID-19 at what she has called dangerous and unprecedented rates. The Democrat will speak Wednesday at a news conference a day after New Mexico's daily confirmed infections set a new statewide record. She has warned that more stringent rules could be imposed because of the spike in cases. Lujan Grisham has already limited gatherings to five people or less, reduced hotel capacities and a set 10 p.m. closing time for restaurants and bars. New Mexico is listed as a region of "uncontrolled spread" by the  covidexitstrategy.org website watched by state health officials. 


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's chief of staff John Bingaman has taken a leave of absence to help with Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's transition team. Lujan Grisham was recently named as one of the co-chairs of Biden's transition committee and asked Bingaman to assist with the potential transition. A spokeswoman for Lujan Grisham, Nora Meyers Sackett, says Bingaman took a leave of absence starting last week because his duties relevant to the Biden campaign are not within the scope of state government affairs. Bingaman has been the governor's chief of staff since she took office in Jan. 2019. 


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's largest electric utility is breaking ground on a 50-megawatt solar field that will provide power to large users that have signed on to a new program officials hope will serve as a cost-effective model for boosting access to renewable energy. Officials said Thursday the third-largest solar project on tribal land in the U.S.will be capable of producing enough electricity to power the equivalent of about 16,000 average homes for a year. Tribal officials gathered on the Jicarilla Apache Nation in northern New Mexico for a ceremony ahead of the groundbreaking.


RUIDOSO, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is on the verge of electing the nation's largest U.S. House delegation made up entirely of women of color, but the close race the state's southern district is grabbing the most attention. Democratic U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small is seeking to hold her traditionally GOP-leaning seat against Republican challenger Yvette Herrell in a rematch of 2018 that will be decided by turnout. Meanwhile, Democratic U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, one of the nation's first Native American females in Congress, is facing re-election against Republican challenger Michelle Garcia Holmes for the Albuquerque seat. Democrat Teresa Leger Fernandez and Republican Alexis Johnson are vying to represent New Mexico's Democratic-leaning northern district.


WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Navajo Nation health officials are reporting 40 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 but no deaths. The figures released Wednesday night bring the total number of cases to 10,780 with the known death toll remaining at 571. Tribal health officials said 113,985 people on the vast reservation that covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah have been tested for COVID-19 since the pandemic started and 7,358 have recovered. A shelter-in-place order, mask mandate, daily curfews and weekend lockdowns remain in effect on the Navajo Nation. Most people experience mild or moderate symptoms with the coronavirus, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks.  


RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — A new Showtime sports documentary follows a Mexican League baseball team that plays on both sides of the border amid the tension around migration, divisive politics, and cartel violence. "Bad Hombres" centers around the 2019 season of the Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos, a binational professional baseball team with home stadiums in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, and Laredo, Texas. Players often cross the border by foot to each game with equipment in tow. Meanwhile, surrounding the players chasing dreams are the dangers of drug cartel violence and President Donald Trump's heated rhetoric about a border wall. 


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico health and school officials can keep restricting in-person learning for the vast majority of young children based on county-wide coronavirus outbreaks. A federal judge denied a request for a sweeping injunction to allow in-person learning to return, saying plaintiffs likely can't sue the governor and that the regulations ordered by the state are likely to be upheld. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has allowed some in-person learning for special needs students and allowed districts with low coronavirus transmission to bring kids back to school two days per week. Parents in counties forced to remain closed have been angry over the restrictions.


FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — A program that provides free coal to Navajos to heat their homes resumes this month. Many tribal members still use coal as a heating source, but accessing it became harder after a mine in northeastern Arizona shut down last year. The Navajo Transitional Energy Company expanded its coal resource program to help fill the gaps. Coal tickets can be obtained through Navajo Nation chapters in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. One ticket equals one ton of coal. It must be picked up at the Navajo Mine near Farmington, New Mexico.