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Local and State News

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

  • VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is scheduled Tuesday to provide an update on COVID-19 cases after a string of record-breaking daily case counts prompted more restrictions last week. The Democratic governor has warned that more stringent rules could be imposed to curb the surge. Officials also are cracking down on employers who they say aren't following the rules. The state's Occupational Health and Safety Bureau has opened an investigation of Sandia National Laboratories after receiving a complaint. Lab officials say from the start of the pandemic through Oct. 15, the majority of cases at Sandia were acquired offsite and outside of work hours.

  • ELECTION 2020-HOUSE-NEW MEXICO

DEMING, N.M. (AP) — A Republican mayor of a southern New Mexico city is throwing his support behind Democratic U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small for re-election. An ad released Tuesday by the Torres Small's campaign highlights Republican Deming Mayor Benny Jasso endorsing the Las Cruces Democrat over her GOP challenger, Yvette Herrell. Jasso says in the ad that Torres Small has fought for the city 35 miles (56.33 kilometers) north of the U.S. Mexican border. Torres Small is locked in a tight race with Herrell in the traditionally conservative-leaning district. Herrell recently was endorsed by the last Democrat to hold the seat.

  • VIRUS OUTBREAK-NETFLIX-NEW MEXICO

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Netflix has halted production of its Western film "The Harder They Fall" on Thursday after at least two people among the cast and crew tested positive for the coronavirus while working in New Mexico. The production did not identify the infected people. The production has been required to adhere to state safety guidelines, including facial masks and social distancing. The cast and crew also has been subjected to multiple coronavirus tests a week. Productions usually wait two weeks with no positive tests before resuming. This film resumed shooting in late September after being shut down in March because of the pandemic. 

  • UNEMPLOYMENT-JOB SEARCHES

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico labor officials say they will continue to waive job search requirements until further notice for those receiving unemployment benefits. The Workforce Solutions Department made the announcement Monday, citing the increasing number of reported COVID-19 cases in the state. Department Secretary Bill McCamley says with the recent spike, the decision was made to give New Mexicans more time before work searches are required. The announcement reverses an earlier decision that had required people to report at least two work searches during their weekly certification process beginning Oct. 25. The agency also is delaying the opening of its offices for in-person visits to limit spread. 

  • DRY SOUTHWEST

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Lincoln National Forest in southern New Mexico is the latest to join other forests in New Mexico and neighboring Arizona that are all at a high, very high or extreme fire danger rating. Lincoln officials announced the move to the higher rating Monday, as weather forecasters said more hot, dry weather were on tap for the region this week. Forest officials say despite it being late October, multiple fires larger than 1,000 acres have cropped up in the past week, including the Luna Fire in northern New Mexico and the Horse Fire south of Prescott, Arizona.

  • NEW MEXICO GAMBLING RULES

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Native American leaders in New Mexico are raising concerns about a proposal by non-tribal racetracks and casinos to open the state to Las Vegas-style gambling. They told state lawmakers during a meeting Monday that allowing unlimited slot machines, table games, online gambling and sports wagering at the tracks and casinos would be a "reckless attempt to expand private wealth." The tribal leaders also said they were not approached about the plan until just days before tracks executives testified before another legislative panel earlier this month. Track executives predict that expanded gambling would boost tourism and ensure the survival of the horse racing industry in New Mexico. 

  • ARTS COLLECTIVE-LABOR UNION

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Workers at a popular immersive arts entertainment project were voting Monday on whether to unionize under the Communications Workers of America umbrella, amid economic uncertainty linked to COVID-19. Meow Wolf coined a new brand of family entertainment with its "House of Eternal Return" exhibition in Santa Fe that is currently idled by a statewide pandemic health order. Meow Wolf has about 270 current employees after laying off just over 200 workers in April amid aggressive state restrictions on businesses'. Meouw Wolf furloughed more workers, even as it forges ahead with efforts to open venues in Las Vegas in early 2021 and Denver later that year.

  • ELECTION 2020-NEW MEXICO

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — More than 80,000 people cast ballots across New Mexico over the weekend as Democrats continue to dominate early voting ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election. The secretary of state's office said Monday that more than 265,000 ballots have been cast. Voting convenience centers opened Saturday across the state. Registered Republicans currently account for one-third of ballots, while about 54% were cast by Democrats. On Sunday, candidates in an open U.S. Senate race presented clashing visions for the future of the U.S. health care system, responses to climate change and potential policing reforms during a televised debate. Democratic Rep. Ben Ray Lujan and Republican former meteorologist Mark Ronchetti hope to replace Democratic Sen. Tom Udall, who is retiring.