Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. MDT
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NAVAJO NATION
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation on Tuesday reported finding no new COVID-19 related deaths for the 10th consecutive day. The tribe reported nine new confirmed coronavirus cases, but no additional deaths on the vast reservation that covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. The latest numbers bring the Navajo Nation's pandemic case total to 30,380 with the death toll remaining at 1,262. Tribal health officials say more than 16,500 people have recovered from COVID-19 thus far. The tribe had been easing into reopening but that slowed somewhat after coronavirus variants were confirmed on the reservation. Tribal officials urged residents to stay vigilant.
- SCHOOL DISTRICT-PUBLIC RECORDS
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A judge has ordered the Albuquerque school district to pay over $400,000 to the Albuquerque Journal and KOB-TV for violating state law by not turning over public records in a timely manner and not meeting deadlines on responding to requests for documents. District Judge Nancy Franchini also ruled Monday that the two news organizations are entitled to reasonable attorney fees and legal costs, the Journal reported. Franchini awarded the Journal $293,625 and KOB $118,000 in their lawsuit over documents related to former Superintendent Winston Brooks' departure. Albuquerque Public Schools spokeswoman Monica Armenta said the district will appeal the ruling.
- NATURAL GAS PRICES-NEW MEXICO
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gas Co. wants to recover costs associated with dramatic spikes in natural gas prices over the winter. The utility said Tuesday it has filed an application with the state Public Regulation Commission. The proposal calls for spreading the recovery of the costs through December 2023 in order to minimize the effects on customers' monthly bills. If approved by regulators, the average increase for customers would be about $5.70 per month, or about 10%. Utility officials say the costs faced in February were unprecedented and the market conditions forced the company to pay higher prices.
- NUCLEAR LAB-NEW MEXICO
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The U.S. government plans to build a new transmission line and make other upgrades to ensure its northern New Mexico nuclear weapons laboratory has enough electricity for current and future missions. Officials say one of the existing lines feeding Los Alamos National Laboratory is expected to reach capacity this summer. The other will likely hit its limit in coming years as the lab ramps up production of key components for the nation's nuclear arsenal. The U.S. Energy Department says it will work with federal land managers to assess the project's potential environmental effects. They're asking the public to weigh in on the scope of the planned review.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — U.S. wildlife managers have set aside areas in seven states as habitat that's critical to the survival of a rare songbird that migrates each year from Central and South America to breeding grounds in Mexico and the United States. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday made final the habitat designation for the western yellow-billed cuckoo. It covers about 467 square miles along hundreds of miles of rivers and streams. Most breeding in the U.S. occurs in Arizona and New Mexico, but the habitat designation also includes portions of California, Colorado, Utah, Texas and Idaho.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-SECRET PROM
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Las Cruces school officials are shortening the suspension of in-person classes at a high school whose students organized a "secret prom." The private party was reported to the governor's office, prompting school officials to shut down Mayfield High School just weeks into the resumption of in-person learning. The district superintendent says students can head back to class on Thursday. He says that aside from a 10-day quarantine, students who attended the event won't be punished. The semester ends May 26, and high schools are now planning socially distanced proms they believe can be safe.
- UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico labor officials are responding with reassurances to an onslaught of complaints about increased tax rates on businesses to support unemployment insurance. The Department of Workforce Solutions said Monday that its review of rate increase has not found any inappropriate changes and that a deadline for appeals was extended to May 30 as a courtesy to employers. A long list of business groups including the New Mexico Business Coalition is questioning the state's compliance with a state pandemic relief law that omits any layoffs from March 2020 through June 2021 from consideration in setting tax rates to support unemployment insurance.
- HANTAVIRUS-NAVAJO NATION
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Health officials are reporting the Navajo Nation's first case this year of of Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, a rare but potentially fatal disease spread by infected rodent droppings. The tribal health department said the case was confirmed in McKinley County in northwestern New Mexico but it wasn't known how the person contracted Hantavirus. Hantavirus typically is reported in spring and summer, often due to exposures that occur when people are near mouse droppings in homes, sheds or poorly ventilated areas. Recommended precautions to limit the spread of Hantavirus include ventilating and cleaning areas where they might be mouse droppings.