Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 1:20 a.m. MST
- Navajo Nation reports 23 new coronavirus cases, four deaths
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation has continued on a downward trend in the number of daily coronavirus cases. Tribal health officials on Friday reported 23 new cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths. The latest numbers bring the total to 29,710 cases since the pandemic began. The death toll is 1,165. A curfew remains in effect for residents on the vast reservation that covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah to prevent the spread of the virus. Health facilities on the reservation and in border towns are conducting drive-thru vaccine events or administering doses by appointment.
- New Mexico coach Paul Weir stepping down at end of season
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Paul Weir is stepping down as New Mexico's basketball coach at the end of the season. In a statement posted Friday on the program's website, athletic director Eddie Nunez said the school and Weir mutually agreed to part ways after the season. The Lobos — 6-14 overall and 2-14 in the Mountain West — will play their regular-season finale at Colorado on Wednesday and take part in the Mountain West Tournament in Las Vegas, starting March 10. Weir is in his fourth season as coach of New Mexico. He has a 58-61 overall record with the Lobos, including a pair of 19-win seasons.
- Southern New Mexico man gets prison term in kidnapping case
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A 28-year-old southern New Mexico man has been sentenced to over 12 years in prison for a kidnapping conviction stemming from a 2019 armed abduction involving an attempted robbery. The U.S. Attorney's office said Joshua Neil Bowen of Alto was among five people who pleaded guilty to kidnapping in the case. The office said the kidnapping victim was abducted from a travel center in Mescalero and first taken to Chaparral, New Mexico, near the U.S.-Mexico border and then to El Paso, Texas and finally to Las Cruces. According to police, that's where the victim was rescued by police after being held at a motel before managing to call his son for help.
- No artwork damaged in flooding at Hispanic cultural center
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Officials at the National Hispanic Cultural Center say no artwork was damaged after two waterlines froze and broke in mid-February. The building sustained some minor flooding during a cold snap that hit Albuquerque. Crews were able to clean up water near the center's front entrance and inside the Visual Arts building within hours. The director of the Art Museum and Visual Arts program says staff moved artwork to other areas within the center. None of it was damaged. The artwork now is being returned to its original location.
- Infections among inmates boost New Mexico's COVID case total
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico health officials on Friday confirmed an additional 659 COVID-19 infections. The figure marks the highest daily case count in more than three weeks. Nearly 30% of the new cases involved state inmates. Officials earlier this week expressed optimism about downward trends in the overall spread of the virus, with all of the state's counties reporting positivity rates below 10%. However, they acknowledged that the seven-day rolling average of daily cases remained above targets. In all, New Mexico has reported nearly 185,000 cases since the pandemic began. The death toll stands at 3,685, with more than a dozen deaths reported Friday.
- New Mexico governor signs bill to preserve abortion rights
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has signed a bill to shore up abortion rights in New Mexico. The legislation was signed Friday after previously winning final approval from the Democratic-led Legislature. It overturns a dormant 1969 ban on most abortion procedures and marks a defiant counterpoint to efforts in some conservative states. Had the old statute been left in place, New Mexico's ban on most abortion procedures would have gone into effect if the U.S. Supreme Court eventually overturns the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling. In signing the bill, the governor said a woman has the right to make decisions about her own body.
- New Mexico governor signs $200M pandemic relief measure
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has signed legislation that will provide some relief to businesses that lost money in 2020 amid the pandemic and emergency health restrictions. The measure will make available $200 million in grants that will be underwritten by a state job creation fund. Businesses may qualify for grants of up to $100,000. They can use the money to help pay for rent and mortgage obligations in exchange for hiring workers. The governor and other lawmakers said the extra assistance will help get businesses back on their feet. It comes as public health restrictions have been eased in some counties.
- Las Cruces school official struck, killed while walking dogs
LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — Police say the school superintendent for New Mexico's second largest city of Las Cruces was hit and killed by a minivan while walking her dogs. Karen Trujillo was 50 and formerly headed the state Public Education Department. Word of Trujillo's death spread quickly through Las Cruces and prompted tributes on social media from the city's mayor and others. District officials described her death as "an unimaginable loss," and state lawmakers paused during legislative meetings Friday to remember her. Trujillo was married and had three children. She was also a former classroom teacher, school principal and administrator at New Mexico State University.