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Local and State News

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

  • Navajo Nation reports no COVID-19 deaths for 5th day in row

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation has reported 20 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, but no additional deaths for the fifth consecutive day. The latest numbers released Thursday brought the pandemic totals on the tribe's reservation to 30,338 cases and 1,262 known deaths. Tribal officials had ordered a lockdown last weekend over fears that a new variant could drive another deadly surge. The Stay-At-Home order required all Navajo Nation residents to refrain from unnecessary travel to help limit the spread of the virus, including a new and more contagious strain.  So far, nearly 16,500 people on the Navajo Nation have recovered from COVID-19.

  • US water managers warn of dismal year along the Rio Grande

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Federal water managers have released their annual operating plan for the Rio Grande, and it doesn't look good. Flows have been meager so far this year because of below-average snowpack and precipitation. The Rio Grande is one of North America's longest rivers and a major water source for millions people and thousands of square miles of farmland in New Mexico, Texas and Mexico. The Bureau of Reclamation warned Thursday that a stellar monsoon season would be the only saving grace, but the odds of that happening are slim. That means there will be less water for farmers this growing season, and the river could possibly go dry through Albuquerque.

  • Famed Laguna Pueblo photographer Lee Howard Marmon dies

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Lee Howard Marmon, a self-taught photographer from Laguna Pueblo whose photographs are in galleries and museums around the world, has died at age 95. The Albuquerque Journal reported Thursday that Marmon died March 31 of natural causes at a veterans home in Albuquerque. The newspaper says a private funeral has already been held and Marmon was buried at the Santa Fe National Cemetery. Marmon's images of Native Americans, many taken on the Laguna reservation, helped to chronicle life in the community where he grew up. Among Marmon's numerous honors is a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Southwest Association of Indian Arts.

  • New Mexico health secretary, experts push vaccine message

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Health Secretary Dr. Tracie Collins says the state has tapped into a network of community health providers, faith leaders and other local organizers to share information as officials look to boost the number of people who are vaccinated. Collins testified Thursday before a congressional subcommittee on the challenges of combating misinformation surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and the vaccination campaign. She said New Mexico has been a leader in distribution. She said the early adoption of a registration site, regular news conferences by top state officials and town halls and social media messaging in multiple languages have resulted in the state's high vaccination rates.

  • New Mexico settles retaliation lawsuit by whistleblower

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The state of New Mexico has reached a $260,000 settlement with a whistleblower who alleged retaliation by state insurance regulators after she reported that a major health care insurer was allegedly avoiding tax payments. An attorney for Shawna Maestas confirmed the financial settlement Wednesday after the terms were published on a state clearinghouse website. Maestas previously oversaw the state's financial audit bureau. Two of her former colleagues at the Office of the Superintendent of Insurance are still pursuing the state for a 20% share of a roughly $18 million settlement with Presbyterian Health Plan for alleged underpayments on insurance premiums. Presbyterian did not acknowledge wrongdoing, and fraud charges were dismissed.

  • Marijuana producer fined $142K after Santa Fe fire injures 2

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A medical marijuana producer in New Mexico has been fined $142,000 for worker safety violations related to a fire at a Santa Fe facility last October that seriously injured two employees. The New Mexico Environment Department fined New MexiCann Natural Medicine on Wednesday citing six violations. Authorities say the fire started after two employees were in the midst of a cannabis extraction process. New MexiCann, which has been licensed since 2009, closed its main facility where the fire occurred. The company has 15 days to pay the penalties or contest them. Company attorney John Day declined to comment.

  • Production of 'Outer Range' TV series underway in New Mexico

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Film Office has announced that a television series starring Josh Brolin and now in production will employ up to 300 crew members and 2,000 people as extras and background actors. The office said "Outer Range" is produced by Amazon Studios and Plan B Entertainment and is shooting in Albuquerque, and Las Vegas. In the production, Brolin plays a rancher who the film office says "discovers an unfathomable mystery at the edge of Wyoming's wilderness" while fighting for his ranch and family. Office Director Amber Dodson said it's exciting that the series will feature many of New Mexico's diverse landscapes.

  • MARIJUANA-NEW MEXICO

Pot producers eager to ramp up, as legalization approachesSANTA FE, NM. (AP) — Several New Mexico medical marijuana providers are warning of a potential cannabis shortage in late June, when the first provisions of a new law go into effect to legalize recreational marijuana. Recreational cannabis sales don't commence until early 2022. But several medical marijuana businesses led by Ultra Health said Wednesday that there could be a run on medical marijuana supplies in late June of this year. That's when a new legalization law takes effect and increases possession limits, with virtually no restrictions on how much can be stashed away at home for personal use. Ultra Health called for an increase in the current limits on marijuana production — set at 1,750 plants per producer — to ensure there is no extreme scarcity.