- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is putting on hold jury trials and closing state motor vehicle offices in response to surging coronavirus infections across the state. The state Supreme Court on Friday paused civil and criminal jury trials until the end of the year. The state's appellate, district, metropolitan and magistrate courts will remain open while following guidelines to reduce risks of virus transmission. The Taxation and Revenue Department said it is closing down field offices and motor vehicle division office through Nov. 30.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-ACOMA
ACOMA, N.M. (AP) — Native American authorities at Acoma Pueblo say that federal authorities have suspended emergency and in-patient medical care at a hospital on Acoma tribal lands. A Friday statement from Acoma Gov. Brian Vallo condemned the suspension of services at Acoma-Canoncito-Laguna Service Unit hospital by the Indian Health Service as reckless in the midst of a major coronavirus infection surge. The Indigenous community of about 3,000 people says it has experienced a surge of COVID-19 cases, with about 100 positive tests in November. Vallo says tribal members now must travel an hour by car for intensive medical care to Albuquerque, where emergency rooms are strained by the contagion.
- IMMIGRATION-CITIZENSHIP TEST
PHOENIX (AP) — Updates to the U.S. citizenship test will require applicants to answer more questions than before and could slow down the number of tests administered each day. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced the updated test now has 128 civics items to study from and will require applicants answer 20 questions instead of 10. Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst at the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute, says the changes to the naturalization test could possibly triple the amount each USCIS officer spends on testing applicants. Agency spokesman Dan Hetlage said the new test "covers a variety of topics that provide the applicant with a more well-rounded testing experience."
WASHINGTON (AP) — A plan championed by retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico to harness the nation's lands and ocean waters to fight climate change is getting a boost from Joe Biden. The president-elect has made slowing global warming a priority for his incoming administration. Udall is the last serving member of a political dynasty that's represented the West in Washington for nearly seven decades. He's emerged as a leading contender for interior secretary under Biden. Udall's plan calls for conservation of 30% of the country's lands and ocean waters in the next 10 years, setting aside millions of acres for recreation, wildlife and climate efforts by 2030.
- SANTA TERESA AIRPORT
SANTA TERESA, N.M. (AP) — An airport in New Mexico's border region has finished a $9 million upgrade aimed at increasing capacity. Officials with the Doña Ana County International Jetport at Santa Teresa say the airport will now be able to handle some cargo planes and larger corporate aircraft. The airport is located near the border with Texas and Mexico, a region that has seen booming trade and commerce in recent years. The airport abuts a major rail line and a growing industrial park. The renovation was funded by state and federal grants.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Gyms, salons, golf courses and other nonessential businesses will have to close under public health restrictions being reimposed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. The Democratic governor said Friday she's hitting the reset button in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19. People also are being told to stay home except for essential trips related to health, safety and welfare. The governor says the state is at a breaking point and that a two-week pause will afford New Mexico an opportunity to blunt the virus. Confirmed cases have now topped 62,000 in the state, and nearly 1,200 deaths have been reported.
- ALBUQUERQUE CRIME-MOTHER'S SLAYING
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities in New Mexico have charged a Mexican national with the 2019 slaying of the mother of two state police officers. District Attorney Raul Torrez announced the charges against Luis Talamantes-Romero during a news conference Thursday. Talamantes-Romero is in federal custody in Texas awaiting sentencing for illegal re-entry into the U.S. He's also facing charges of aggravated burglary, tampering with evidence and other crimes. Jacqueline Vigil was shot dead last year in her driveway as she prepared to leave for the gym. The case had gone unsolved for months, drawing the attention of President Donald Trump as he pushed his tough-on-crime agenda.
PHOENIX (AP) — Seven months after he was first hospitalized with COVID-19, a utility worker from Las Cruces, New Mexico, has a brand new set of lungs. Doctors at St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix, where the transplant took place, are expected to release 52-year-old Arthur Sanchez on Saturday. He is the first of two double lung transplants the hospital has performed on coronavirus patients since the pandemic began. There have been reports of a handful of coronavirus patients nationwide who have received a lung transplant. Sanchez has called himself "a walking miracle." Doctors say he spent almost five months in various hospitals during his battle with the virus.