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

  • DRY NEW MEXICO-DESALINATION

EUNICE, N.M. (AP) — One southeastern New Mexico city is taking another step as it looks for an "unlimited" source of water. The Eunice City Council has tasked an engineering firm to continue studying the benefits of building a desalination plant for the community. As depletion of fresh water from the Ogallala Aquifer continues, the council wants to know the feasibility of a proposed alternative — desalination of saline or brackish water. Mayor Billy Hobbs has said he hopes the project could lead to his city becoming water independent. It could cost an estimated $5.5 million to build a desalination plant in Eunice.

  • VIRUS OUTBREAK-BOOSTERS

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California is among three states now allowing coronavirus booster shots for all adults. The move comes even though federal health officials recommend limiting doses to those over 65 and younger people with certain underlying health conditions or whose jobs are high risk for the virus. California, along with Colorado and New Mexico, instituted their policies to try to head off a feared surge around the end-of-year holidays when more people are gathering inside. Colorado and New Mexico have among the nation's highest rates of new infections. California now joins them in the "high" tier for transmission after being lowest in the nation earlier this fall.

  • VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is opening access to vaccine booster shots to all adults, responding to surging rates of infection that state health officials are partly linking to waning immunity among the vaccinated. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed an executive order Friday expanding eligibility for booster shots. The governor also extended the public health order, meaning masks must still be worn in all public indoor spaces. State data shows more than 28% of coronavirus infections confirmed over the last four weeks in New Mexico have been among the vaccinated. Still, state health officials touted the vaccines as a way to prevent serious illness or death.

  • EDUCATION SOCIAL STUDIES

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is taking feedback from the public Friday on its proposed overhaul of the social studies curriculum. The proposal would update the history standards for the first time in 20 years. It would also expand the focus on identity groups and race in civics. Critics say the proposal amounts to progressive indoctrination. Supporters have said the standards will make social studies more "anti-racist." The six-week feedback period has also drawn calls to personal finance to the economics section of the curriculum. Supporters of the idea want students to learn more about debt, savings and investing.

  • VIRUS OUTBREAK-NAVAJO NATION

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation reported 77 more cases of COVID-19 on Friday and no recent deaths. The figures put the tribe's overall number of cases at 37,966 since the pandemic began more than a year ago. The death toll stood at 1,507. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez urged residents of the vast reservations to be careful when traveling to neighboring cities and states where safety measures aren't always as strict. The tribe has maintained a mask mandate throughout most of the pandemic. He also urged residents to take advantage of vaccination drives this weekend.

  • NEW MEXICO STATE-PROVOST

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico State University's chief academic administrator has been placed on paid administrative leave and an acting replacement has been named. The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that the university told employees in a letter Thursday that Vice President Renay Scott will be acting provost, filling in for Provost Carol Parker. The letter by Chancellor Dan Arvizu and President John Floros didn't say why Parker was put on leave or say how long it would last. Parker's attorney said Friday that Parker denies allegations made by faculty and staff that she doesn't listen to them. 

  • HOPI ELECTION

KYKOTSMOVI, Ariz. (AP) — Hopi Chairman Tim Nuvangyaoma has won another term in office. Unofficial results from Thursday's election show he beat David Talayumptewa for the post on the small reservation in northeastern Arizona. Nuvangyaoma had campaigned on reforming the tribal constitution. He says he wants to give Hopis a larger voice in tribal government, create separation of powers and remove a language requirement for candidates seeking elected office. He will have an ally in Vice Chairman-elect Craig Andrews, who beat incumbent Clark Tenakhongva. Turnout was low, with about 1,430 ballots cast. The results won't be final until the tribal elections board certifies them.

  • AP-US-NEW-MEXICO-UTILITY-MERGER

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's largest electric provider and global energy giant Iberdrola say they're committed to customer protections as they push for regulatory approval for a multibillion-dollar merger. The parent company of Public Service Co. of New Mexico and an Iberdrola subsidiary filed additional arguments with utility regulators Friday. The filing claims the companies are committed to $10 million more in economic development benefits and financial protections for customers. The companies say PNM also would delay its next rate case by six months to December 2022. A hearing examiner recently recommended that the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission reject the merger.