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Local and State News

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


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Residents in northern New Mexico are waking up Monday morning to smoky air mostly due to wildfires in California. An air quality alert from Albuquerque environmental regulators deeming the air's current state as unhealthy remains in effect until noon. While particulate levels are expected to decline later in the day, the ozone levels could rise. The City of Albuquerque Environmental Health Department advises that people avoid vigorous physical activity outside and stay indoors as much as possible. One city official told KOAT-TV that this is the worst smoke he's seen since the Wallow Fire a decade ago.


WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation on Sunday reported 18 more COVID-19 cases, but no additional deaths for the eighth consecutive day. The additional cases increased the tribe's pandemic total to at least 31,635 while the number of known deaths remained 1,377. The Navajo Nation reservation is the country's largest at 27,000 square miles (70,000 square kilometers) and it covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities say Albuquerque has matched a record number of homicides this year within the city limits. City police say the homicide total hit 81 early Sunday. That's equivalent to the record set in Albuquerque in 2019. The total dropped to 77 in 2020 during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. The Albuquerque Journal reports that the city is not alone in seeing a tremendous spike in violence in 2021. Data released by the Major Cities Chiefs Association showed that in the first six months of 2021, 45 cities out of the 66 that responded to a survey saw more homicides than in the first six months of 2019. In Arizona, Tucson has seen 57 homicides so far this year, compared with 34 at this time last year.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's governor and dozens of other elected officials are urging the state's business community to require that employees be vaccinated against COVID-19 or alternatively undergo regular testing. The letter sent Friday to employers and business groups said the action is necessary to stop the current increased spread of COVID-19 as infections increase. The 28 signers include Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham., U.S. Sens. Ben Ray Lujan and Martin Heinrich and U.S. Reps. Teresa Leger Fernandez and Melanie Stansbury but not U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell, the congressional delegation's sole Republican member. New Mexico state employees must be vaccinated or get tested regularly.


LAS VEGAS, N.M. (AP) — A former northern New Mexico mayor has been ordered to apologize to Las Vegas city officials and contractors as part of her sentence in a corruption case. District Judge Abigail Aragon on Friday ordered ex-Mayor Tonita Gurule-Giron to publicly apologize and write letters of apology to city employees and contractors affected by her interfering in city contracts to benefit her boyfriend. Aragon also sentenced Gurule-Giron to 18 months probation and ordered her to complete 40 hours of community service and pay $1,000 in restitution.  A jury in May convicted Gurole-Giron of felony charges of violating ethical principles of service and of soliciting or receiving illegal kickbacks.


WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation on Saturday reported additional 46 COVID-19 cases but no additional deaths. The additional cases increased the pandemic total while the number of deaths remained 1,377. Tribal officials did not provide an updated pandemic case total but the figure released Friday was 31,571. That was without the 46 additional cases were reported Saturday and any other changes made since  Friday.


LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell has renewed her call for Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan to deploy the New Mexico National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border. The lone Republican member of the state's congressional delegation, Herrell has supported the border wall and tighter controls on immigration. In her latest request, she cited an increase in COVID-19 infections amid high levels of summer border crossings. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has renewed emergency powers that allow federal authorities to expel families at the border on the grounds it prevents the spread of the coronavirus. The governor's office says the National Guard has been working on pandemic-related missions.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has pardoned 19 people for convictions ranging from cocaine trafficking to domestic violence, bribing a witness and shoplifting. The pardons announced Friday represent the third round of clemency decisions for the Democratic governor who took office in January 2019. She has pardoned 50 people overall. Pardons were provided in four instances linked to violent crime for shooting into a dwelling, domestic violence, battery and aggravated assault. The governor's office says nearly all of the pardoned offenses date were from crimes committed a decade or more ago. Recommendations from the Parole Board for those pardoned were not immediately available on Friday.