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Local and State News

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. MDT

  • VIRUS OUTBREAK

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — At least half of New Mexico's K-12 students are choosing to attend school in person as of last week. State education officials say that the vast majority of schools are offering in-person schooling, with the exception of schools under tribal health restrictions. Education Secretary Stewart said Thursday that only 17 out of the state's 800-odd schools have had to close because of virus concerns since widespread reopening began on April 5. Meanwhile vaccines are easier to get than ever in New Mexico, with all residents at least 16 free to schedule appointments. Education and health officials are working get high school students vaccinated before summer.

  • JILL BIDEN-SOUTHWEST

ST. MICHAELS, Ariz. (AP) — Jill Biden is set to visit a small grade school on the outskirts of the Navajo Nation capital Friday. Staff at Hunters Point Boarding School in St. Michaels have repainted the buliding, upgraded the washer and dryer in the dorms, placed plexiglass between beds and installed hand-washing stations. School officials are hopeful they can welcome students back to the classroom this fall. Biden is expected to meet with a handful of students at the school dormitory before visiting a vaccination site. It's Biden's third trip to the Navajo Nation. She met with female tribal leaders on Thursday to hear about the broader needs on the country's largest Native American reservation.

  • JILL BIDEN-SOUTHWEST

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Jill Biden spent her first day of a trip to the Navajo Nation listening to female leaders who she referred to as her "sister warriors" on the needs and priorities of the country's largest Native American reservation. The visit was Biden's third to the reservation that was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Now, the tribe is outpacing the U.S. in vaccination rates while maintaining a mask mandate and other safety precautions. Biden met with Navajo officials in the tribal capital of Window Rock. Female leaders there talked about the need for more financial resources and a focus on families, language preservation and culture.

  • VIRUS OUTBREAK-NAVAJO NATION

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation on Thursday reported no COVID-19 related deaths for the 11th time in the past 12 days. The tribe also reported 15 new confirmed coronavirus cases 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 30,404 with the known death toll remaining at 1,263 after the death reported on Wednesday. Tribal health officials said 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.

  • STATE CAMPUS-NEW MEXICO

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The state of New Mexico is expecting multimillion-dollar annual savings on lease costs with the relocation of 160 child-wellness officials to a newly renovated campus in southeast Albuquerque. The General Services Department announced Thursday that 160 workers with the Children, Youth and Families Department recently moved into the five-building complex on Indian School Road near Carlisle Boulevard. The department estimates a shift of roughly 500 workers to the campus in recent years should result in savings of $3.1 million annually. The state has invested nearly $50 million in the property.

  • VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Health officials in New Mexico are considering changes to the familiar color-coded dial system that determines county responses to the coronavirus pandemic, including public health restrictions. The New Mexico Health and Human Services Department is now testing new methods after nine counties on Wednesday regressed to levels that warranted tighter limitations on business and restaurant capacities. Currently, the state assesses risk based on the average test positivity in a county and the per capita daily count of newly confirmed cases. The state is now proposing revisions to the test positivity rate and daily case count, removing the metric for PPE supply and adding county vaccination rates.

  • VIRUS OUTBREAK-US

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Demand for the coronavirus vaccine has fallen off in some places around the United States to the point where some counties are turning down new shipments of doses. More than half of all U.S. adults have received at least one vaccine dose. But administering the shots remains a challenge. In Iowa, nearly half of its counties have declined new shipments of doses. About three-quarters of Kansas counties have turned down new shipments of the coronavirus vaccine at least once over the past month. And the state of Louisiana turned down new shipments this past week. Said one pharmacist: "I would like to have some on hand, but I don't want them to go out of date because they're just sitting there."

  • AP-US-BIDEN-PUBLIC-LANDS

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A longtime environmental advocate and Democratic aide has been nominated by President Joe Biden to oversee roughly a quarter-billion acres of federally owned land in Western states. It's the latest in a string of political appointments raising concerns among Republicans as Biden moves to curtail energy production from public reserves. Biden nominated Tracy Stone-Manning of Missoula, Montana, to direct the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management. The bureau has jurisdiction over vast reserves of oil, gas and coal and is set to play a key role in Biden's commitment announced Thursday to cut climate warming emissions from fossil fuels by at least half by 2030.