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

May 19, 2020

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is embracing absentee balloting like never before in advance of the state's June 2 primary. The secretary of state's office on Tuesday released statistics on voting and requests for absentee ballots that indicate a major increase in remote voting by mail compared to the 2016 presidential primary. Voting by absentee ballot outpaced early in-person voting by a ration of nearly 3-1 with two weeks to go before Election Day. Election regulators and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham are urging eligible voters to cast ballots by mail to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission.


GALLUP, N.M. (AP) — A night of revelry before bars and restaurants shut in New Mexico appears to have led to an outbreak in a detox center and homeless shelter in the city of Gallup, on the fringes of the Navajo Nation. The outbreak would combine with the local hospital's ill-fated staffing decisions and its well-intentioned but potentially overly ambitious treatment plans to create a perfect storm. The hospital became overwhelmed and now sends all of its critically ill coronavirus patients to other facilities. Doctors, nurses and hospital executives disagree about who is to blame.


TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico sheriff's deputy has resigned after authorities say they caught him with methamphetamine and a pipe inside his patrol car. KRQE-TV reports New Mexico State Police arrested Grant Taylor this month following a call from the Sierra County Sheriff's Department. According to a criminal complaint, officers found a glass pipe in the center console of his patrol car, along with two bags of methamphetamine inside the sunglasses holder. He was charged with drug possession. It was not known if Taylor had an attorney. Court records show Taylor was also charged with possession back in 2011 and pleaded no contest. 


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico saw a 13.9% drop in the number of homes sold in April compared with the same month last year. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports New Mexico Association of Realtors said the dip came as Santa Fe County bore the brunt of home sale declines across the state. The group says Santa Fe County saw a 34% wallop in April as the novel coronavirus took a bite out of homebuyers' and sellers' appetites. Bernalillo County's sales fell 18.3%, San Juan County's slid 15.8% and booming Sandoval County's eased downward 5.5%. Meanwhile, median home prices across New Mexico climbed 7.38% compared with the same period last year. 


ROSWELL, N.M. (AP) — Authorities are searching for a suspect after the discovery of a decapitated wild turkey and destruction of several duck eggs near a New Mexico bird sanctuary. The Roswell Daily Record reports a reward is being offered for any information about the turkey's decapitation and destruction of duck eggs around the J. Kenneth Smith Bird Sanctuary & Nature Center in Roswell, New Mexico. Roswell Parks & Recreation director Jim Burress says the carcass of the wild turkey was found with its head cut off last week on a walking trail at the sanctuary. No arrests have been made.


RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — A sheriff has switched his endorsement in a nasty Republican primary race for crucial U.S. House race in southern New Mexico. Eddy County Sheriff Mark Cage said Monday he is throwing his support behind oil executive Claire Chase for the GOP nomination to challenge Democratic Rep. Xochitl Torres Small. Cage had originally supported former state lawmaker Yvette Herrell for the nomination. But Cage said he changed his mind after the "personal attacks" against Chase. Herrell has faced criticism for exchanging text messages with a cartoonist who was drafting a meme about false rumors Chase had cheated on her first husband.


Google says it will no longer build custom artificial intelligence tools for speeding up oil and gas extraction, separating itself from cloud computing rivals Microsoft and Amazon. The announcement followed a Greenpeace report Tuesday documenting how the three tech giants are using AI and computing power to help oil companies find and access oil and gas deposits in the U.S. and around the world. The environmentalist group says Amazon, Microsoft and Google have been undermining their own climate change pledges by partnering with major oil companies including Shell, BP, Chevron and ExxonMobil that have looked for new technology to get more oil and gas out of the ground. But the group applauded Google on Tuesday for taking a step away from those deals. 


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Attorney General's Office is considering a request by a state lawmaker to look into an Albuquerque rehabilitation center as part of the agency's ongoing review of health and safety concerns at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. The office said Monday it received a request from Republican Rep. Gregg Schmedes to investigate the eviction of senior residents with disabilities at the center. All 54 patients were moved out in April as part of an agreement with state health officials to make room for coronavirus patients. New Mexico has nearly 6,100 COVID-19 cases, with more than half located in McKinley and San Juan counties.