Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. MST
- New Mexico rolls out COVID-19 tests, schools running short
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is sending free COVID-19 home tests to low-income and underserved neighborhoods. The state Health Department announced this week that more than 400,000 tests have been secured so far. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's goal is to procure 1 million rapid tests every two weeks to ensure New Mexicans have access to tests. They have been in short supply nationwide. The shortage has put school districts in a bind as they look to meet state requirements to keep students and staff in the classroom amid high case counts. The Santa Fe school district noted that it cannot meet the testing mandate if the state cannot provide tests.
- Albuquerque schools confirm ransomware attack, resume class
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque Public Schools officials have confirmed the nature of a cyber attack that forced the district to cancel classes for two days, affecting 75,000 students. Superintendent Scott Elder says that ransomware extortion was the issue that shut the school out of its student information system. He says that the district has found a workaround that allowed schools to resume classes on Tuesday. He says that student information, while compromised, isn't at risk. Many details of the attack are being withheld citing an ongoing investigation into the hackers. When asked if a ransom has been paid, Elder said that would be a "public process."
- Governor wants tax cuts, crackdown on crime in election year
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico legislators are preparing to tap into an unprecedented windfall of state income to shore up resources for public education, policing, health care and more in a 30-day legislative session. The session started Tuesday amid a resurgent coronavirus that has prompted nearby school closures in Santa Fe. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is calling on the Legislature to support new investments in teacher salaries, tuition-free college, the expansion of police forces and care for aging military veterans — while slashing taxes on sales and Social Security benefits. Republicans who have consistently supported tax cuts and cracking down on crime noted that the Democratic governor is campaigning for reelection to a second term.
- Plant count increases ahead of New Mexico marijuana sales
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico regulators have doubled the number of marijuana plants that licensed growers can cultivate as the state prepares for recreational sales to start this spring. Cannabis Control Division Director Kristen Thomson said Tuesday that increasing the plant count makes sense "to ensure that everyone can maximize the benefits of a thriving cannabis industry." But some in the industry are concerned that the change is too little and too late to meet demand because of the time it takes to put in place infrastructure and for plants to grow. The state has issued 30 new producer licenses so far and has renewed licenses for 34 existing medical cannabis producers.
- New Mexico sees most number of pedestrian deaths in decade
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque officials are renewing their pledge to prevent pedestrian deaths as New Mexico sees the highest number of them in a decade. KRQE-TV reports a new director will oversee Albuquerque's Vision Zero initiative Tuesday, working with a $4 million budget to design more secure roads and pedestrian crossings. Mayor Tim Keller announced the Vision Zero program in 2019 with an aim to eliminate pedestrian fatalities by 2040. But for the past two years, there have still been dozens of pedestrian deaths in Albuquerque each year. According to the New Mexico Department of Transportation, 99 pedestrians were killed on New Mexico roadways last year. That is a significant bump from 81 in 2020.
- US announces $83M in latest round of tribal housing grants
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has announced another round of tribal housing grants. The $83 million will benefit 74 tribes across the country, boosting the amount awarded through the American Rescue Plan Act to over $200 million. The Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota is among the beneficiaries. The tribe will use a $3.4 million grant to bring water to 30 homes and to finish work on the tribe's new emergency management building. Other tribes are using funding announced Tuesday to buy mobile medical units and build housing. HUD says it still has about $70 million in grants to award.
- Albuquerque school district to reopen after cyberattack
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Public schools in Albuquerque will reopen Tuesday after a cyberattack forced a two-day closure. The Albuquerque Public Schools district serves one-fifth of New Mexico's public grade school students. Officials discovered problems last Wednesday with the district's student information system that tracks attendance, grades and emergency contact information. Officials say they've found a workaround to the problem so students can return to class Tuesday. Students will have to make up the two days they missed in May. The investigation into the cyberattack is ongoing.
- Harris will travel to Honduras for president's inauguration
WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to Honduras next week to attend the inauguration of President-elect Xiomara Castro. Harris has been tasked by President Joe Biden with the hefty job of finding solutions on immigration at the Southwest border. Tens of thousands of Hondurans and other Central American migrants come to the border every month. U.S. border officials stopped migrants more than 1.7 million times during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, nearly quadruple the 458,088 in the previous fiscal year, when COVID-19 first struck.