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Local and State News

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


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — It could be awhile before a COVID-19 vaccine is widely available, but health officials in New Mexico say they have submitted their plans to the federal government for how to distribute it. They said Tuesday that the focus will be on vaccinating health care workers, first responders and then nursing home residents and staff. They acknowledged that supplies will likely be limited early on and immunizations for the general public would come later. Amid a surge in infections in the state and elsewhere in the U.S., health officials outlined their plans for lawmakers, who had questions about everything from the cost to security.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Regents at New Mexico's largest university have decided on a new design for the school seal to replace one that had sparked protests over its depiction of a sword-carrying Spanish conquistador and a rifle-toting frontiersman. University of New Mexico officials confirmed that the decision was made during a recent meeting, but it will likely take more than a year for the new seal to be fully rolled out. Students, alumni and others were polled on five options, including one that had a howling Lobo and mountains in the background. Regents instead chose a less complex design they said would better reflect the university on diplomas and graduation apparel.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A storm dropped snow on New Mexico on Tuesday, making travel hazardous in some areas. National Weather Service forecasters said snow was expected to begin tapering off in western New Mexico on Tuesday and then in the Rio Grande Valley Tuesday night, with last snow falling in the state's eastern plains on Wednesday. Forecasters said freezing rain was possible in southeastern New Mexico. Snowfall was expected to total up to 4 inches in Albuquerque and up to 12 inches in Tucumcari. In Albuquerque, non-essential city services and municipal offices were closed Tuesday due to snowfall and freezing temperatures that affected driving conditions. Albuquerque residents were advised to limit travel. 


CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — The city of Carlsbad has assembled a task force to consider the future of its New Mexico State University campus, including the possibility of operating as an independent university. The Carlsbad Current-Argus reported that Mayor Dale Janway said the university removed the president position in August from its Carlsbad and other branch campuses, leaving one executive with authority over all three. He says there's concern that resources will be diverted from Carlsbad to Las Cruces. Task force chairman Craig Stephens says he hopes the group completes its work before the upcoming legislative session. 


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Republican Party is alleging in a lawsuit that its election poll challengers in New Mexico are unfairly being denied oversight of the initial verification process for absentee ballots. In the suit filed Monday to the state Supreme Court, Republican officials accuse the secretary of state of interfering with independent oversight as county clerks verify signatures and partial social security numbers on the outer envelop of any absentee ballots. State election officials say they are complying with a robust oversight process and criticized the lawsuit as a worrisome tactic. The Supreme Court is asking for a response from election regulators.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Officials with three of the largest health care systems in New Mexico say that if COVID-19 continues to spread like it has in recent weeks, hospitals and health care workers in the state will not be able to keep up. They issued the warning Monday, as New Mexico deals with a surge of infections. Despite having some of the most restrictive public health requirements since the start of the pandemic, New Mexico has seen three record-setting days for daily case totals in just over a week. Hospitalizations also have skyrocketed with nearly 290 people being treated around the state. That marks a four-fold increase over the past month.


LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — The lone occupant of a small plane was killed when the aircraft crashed into a back alley in a Lubbock neighborhood and burst into flames. The Federal Aviation Administration reports the single-engine Cessna Centurion out of Belen, New Mexico, crashed about 4 p.m. Monday while heading toward Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport. Lubbock fire Lt. Philip Grandon says the burning wreckage slid from the alley through a fence and into a back yard. He says the unnamed occupant inside was dead at the scene and no surrounding structures were damaged. The National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA will investigate.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Blowing snow and slick roads are creating hazardous travel conditions for northern and central New Mexico. The National Weather Service in Albuquerque says travelers should be cautious as road conditions were expected to deteriorate Monday evening and overnight. Forecasters say the storm system is expected to reach peak intensity Tuesday with widespread effects, especially in the high terrain and across eastern New Mexico. The moisture offered a much needed break for many parts of the state that have gone weeks without rain. According to the latest drought map, the entire state is suffering from moderate drought or worse.