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


PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The U.S. has reached a COVID-19 milestone of roughly 200 million fully vaccinated people, but cases and hospitalizations are still spiking, even in highly immunized pockets of the country like New England. The situation is not as dire as last year's post-holiday surge before the public had any access to vaccines, but experts say the roughly currently 60% vaccinated U.S. population is not enough to prevent hotspots. And the winter weather, Thanksgiving holiday and pandemic fatigue are all playing a role. At the same time questions remain about the role of the new omicron variant. 


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's top water official has outlined a plan for dealing with future shortages on the Pecos River in southeastern New Mexico. State Engineer John D'Antonio in a recent order called the situation urgent. Water managers have been augmenting supplies in the region by pumping groundwater. That has allowed farmers to irrigate crops and New Mexico to make good on its water-sharing agreement with Texas. But officials are warning that pumping might not be enough in the years to come given the persistent drought. The latest outlook shows much of the Southwestern U.S. can expect drought to stick around at least through February.


ARTESIA, N.M. (AP) — State Transportation Department Secretary Mike Sandoval says his entire department is grieving following the death of a 58-year-old longtime employee in a crash in southeastern New Mexico. Officials say Artesia resident Mittie Ryan was fatally injured Monday when a tanker truck smashed into a work site on U.S. 285, hitting her pickup and pushing it into another. Two other DOT workers jumped into one pickup's bed as the crash occurred but both were injured. The tanker's driver wasn't injured. Only Runyan's identity was released. The crash is under investigation but the State Police said it didn't appear alcohol was a factor. 


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The Bernalillo County Sheriffs Office says one of its deputies fatally shot a domestic violence suspect. A sheriff's office statement said the shooting occurred Tuesday night after deputies went to an apartment complex in response to a report of a domestic violence incident that occurred earlier at a gas station. According to the statement, deputies were speaking with the victim at the apartment complex when the suspect arrived. The statement said deputies chased the suspect when he ran away and the shooting occurred during an ensuing altercation. No additional details were provided such as what led to the shooting and no identities were released.


ESPANOLA, N.M. (AP) — The Rio Arriba County Commission has chosen a new sheriff to fill a vacancy created when James Lujan resigned last week after being sentenced to prison on two felony convictions. County Sheriff's Maj. Billy Merrifield was sworn in as sheriff on Monday after the commission approved the appointment during a special meeting. Lujan was sentenced to three years in prison on convictions of aiding a felon and intimidating a witness stemming from a 2017 incident in Espanola.


WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation on Tuesday reported 35 more COVID-19 cases, but no deaths for the third consecutive day. The latest numbers pushed the tribe's total cases since the pandemic began to 40,171. The known death toll remains at 1,551. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez has again called for everyone on the vast reservation to get a booster shot and wear masks. The reservation covers 27,000 square miles (70,000 square kilometers) and extends into parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The FBI says a man is believed to have robbed two Wells Fargo bank branches in Albuquerque within about 15 minutes Monday and is suspected of robbing four other Albuquerque banks in September and October. According to the FBI, the suspect is described as white, in his 30s, approximately 5-foot-9 (1.5 meters) and 160 pounds (73 kilograms), with black hair and a thin build. The FBI said he wore a blue sweater, a blue hat with a red brim and an image of a mountain on a gold background, a blue surgical mask, gray gloves, blue jeans and dark shoes.   


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Efforts to draw new political boundaries in New Mexico are starting in earnest as the Democrat-led Legislature convenes for an open-ended special session. The session began at midday on Monday. The stakes in the redistricting process are especially high for residents of a congressional swing district in southern New Mexico that flipped to Republican control in 2020. Native American communities are seeking greater political influence through a variety of strategies. Map recommendations were provided to legislators by a citizens' advisory panel. Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham holds veto authority over the process.