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Local and State News

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

  • New Mexico waives job search requirements amid pandemic

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. 

  • Fire danger increases as New Mexico faces hot, dry weather

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 tribes concerned about pitch to expand gambling

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. 

  • Meow Wolf may unionize amid pandemic turmoil

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.

  • Early voting surges in New Mexico as Senate candidates clash

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. 

  • New Mexico Tech shut down after reports of weekend parties

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Tech has temporarily closed out of caution against COVID-19 after officials learned of several off-campus weekend parties. University President Stephen Wells announced on the school's website that the campus would be shut down Monday. According to Wells, between 50-100 students gathered over the weekend at multiple parties in the area surrounding the Socorro campus. Wells says extreme measures are needed due to "the irresponsibility of a few." State health officials on Monday reported an additional 518 cases, bringing the statewide total to more than 37,300 since the pandemic began.

  • Navajo Nation reports 14 new COVID-19 cases and 1 more death

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Navajo Nation health officials are confirming 14 new cases of COVID-19 and one additional death. The figures released Monday night bring the total number of cases to 10,969. The known death toll now is 574. Tribal health officials say 116,676 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 7,396 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.  

  • Explosion at New Mexico cannabis plant critically injures 2

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Two men are in critical condition after an explosion at a cannabis manufacturing facility in New Mexico. The explosion Thursday at the New MexiCann Natural Medicine facility in Santa Fe was the second explosion that has injured workers at the plant in the last five years. The two men were transported by air ambulance to a hospital. Their identities were not made public. A state official says the incident is under investigation. Fire officials obtained two search warrants Friday for camera footage of dispensary.