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Local and State News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 9:20 p.m. MDT


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico health officials confirm that the state set another new single-day record with 819 confirmed COVID-19 cases. The state Department of Health reported new cases Friday. The previous record of 672 confirmed cases on Thursday already had eclipsed records set in recent days. The new cases of the novel coronavirus bring the state total to 35,770. In addition to the new cases, the state also reported that six more people in New Mexico died of the virus. The spike in cases comes as eight football players at the University of New Mexico and one assistant coach tested positive for the coronavirus. The positive cases announced Wednesday led state officials to step in and shut down all team activities.


LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — The CEO of New Mexico's commercial spacecraft launch facility facing accusation he pressured a former chief financial officer to circumvent internal financial controls has been ousted. The Las Cruces Sun-News reports Dan Hicks was terminated as Spaceport America's executive director and CEO with little public discussion on Friday. The governing board of the New Mexico Spaceport Authority met in a special session via video conference. The firing comes as Hicks has been on administrative leave since June while allegations of mismanagement and abuse of authority have been under investigation by the New Mexico State Auditor and the New Mexico Spaceport Authority. Hicks did not immediately return phone messages.


LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — Democratic U.S. House Rep. Xochitl Torres Small has kept a fundraising edge in a crucial House race in southern New Mexico that Republicans hope to flip. Federal election reports show the Las Cruces Democrat pulled in $2,247,575 during that third quarter, which ended September 30. She now has $1,869,189 cash-on-hand going into the final weeks before the election. Republican challenger Yvette Herrell saw a surge in fundraising during the same period and raised $1,013,687 _ one of the biggest fundraising quarters for a Republican congressional candidate in state history. The Alamogordo Republican reported having $514,096 cash-on-hand.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Federal prosecutors say a 22-year-old man who fatally shot another man while staying at his girlfriend's house has pleaded guilty to a voluntary manslaughter charge. The U.S. Attorney's Office in New Mexico announced that Joshua Gutierrez entered the plea Friday in Albuquerque federal court. A news release from the U.S. attorney says Gutierrez was staying at a home on the Navajo Nation where his girlfriend and her father lived when the shooting occured on March 29 when he went to investigate an argument. The shooting happened on the Navajo Nation and Gutierrez faces 12 years in prison. 


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A panel that oversees a multibillion-dollar pension fund for New Mexico teachers and other educational retirees is taking a step toward dropping investments in private prison companies. The Educational Retirement Board voted 4-2 with one member abstaining to amend its investment policies to exclude private prisons. Teachers' unions and immigrant activists have been pushing the board to do so for more than a year, saying divesting in certain companies would make a statement. Some board members reiterated their concerns during Friday's meeting, saying the board has to be mindful of constitutional mandates and statutory requirements that guide investment of the retirement fund.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — An Albuquerque charter school educator has been named New Mexico Teacher of the Year. Alisa Cooper de Uribe is a bilingual first grade teacher at New Mexico International School. She's the second charter school teacher to win the award in its 57-year history. As Teacher of the Year, Cooper de Uribe will serve as an example to her peers and work with the state Public Education Department. She will represent her state in the national Teacher of the Year competition. She is receiving a $25,000 grant from the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association to support her professional development.


PHOENIX (AP) — An appeals court has refused to give an extra 10 days after Election Day to count ballots mailed by Navajo Nation members living on the Arizona portion of the tribe's reservation. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled a later deadline would burden officials who wouldn't be able to tell from ballots whether voters are members of the tribe. The court said Navajos who sought the extension because of slow mail delivery on the reservation had no legal standing to sue and raised questions about the difficulty of using information on ballots to try to distinguish between Navajos living on tribal lands and other voters.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is warning that an unprecedented surge in COVID-19 infections is likely to strain the state's health care system as confirmed cases set a new one-day record at 672. State health official said that intensive care units are full at two major hospitals out of three in Albuquerque as infections accelerate and that the trend could end up constraining other medial services. Lujan Grisham has already limited gatherings to five people or less, reduced hotel capacities and a set 10 p.m. closing time for restaurants. Health officials responded in one week to 611 reports of infections at businesses and other institutions.