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Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 1:20 a.m. MDT

Mar 22, 2020

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 1:20 a.m. MDT

  • VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO

New Mexico has 14 more cases; 2 schools' students cautionedALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The number of coronavirus cases in New Mexico has grown to 57, and two Albuquerque high schools' students and staff are being advised to self-isolate because a student at one has tested positive for the disease. The 14 new cases include nine people in Bernalillo County. Others are in Dona Ana, Lea, Sandoval, Santa Fe and Taos counties. Albuquerque Public Schools officials said the state Department of Health notified them Friday that it was investigating a case involving a Del Norte High School student. Students and staff at Del Norte and co-located Nex+Gen Academy Magnet School were advised to self-isolate "in an abundance of caution" and to contact the state if symptoms surfaced and required medical attention.

  • ELECTION 2020-NEW MEXICO-MAIL-IN VOTING

New Mexico encourages mail-in balloting amid virus concernsSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico election regulators are encouraging registered voters to request mail-in ballots ahead of the state's June 2 primary election in light of a public health emergency concerning the coronavirus. Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver on Friday announced that absentee ballots can be requested through an online portal. New Mexico has "no fault" absentee balloting in which mail-in ballots can be requested for any reason. Primary election absentee ballots are sent out to voters starting on May 5. The final day to request an absentee ballot is May 28. The state coronavirus website reported that New Mexico had 57 positive cases of the virus as of Saturday afternoon, up 43 on Friday.

  • NEW MEXICO-TEEN KILLED

Man pleads guilty in fatal child abuse case in New MexicoSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A 21-year-old has pleaded guilty in a case involving the fatal beating and torture of a 13-year-old boy. Jordan Nunez pleaded guilty in Santa Fe on Friday to child abuse resulting in death and tampering with evidence. He faces up to 24 years in prison. Prosecutors say Jeremiah Valencia's body was found in a roadside grave in January 2018. Investigators say the boy was beaten with brass knuckles, choked and confined to a dog kennel. They say he died after months of abuse inflicted upon him by Nunez and Nunez's father Thomas Ferguson and the boy's mother who was dating Ferguson. A sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled.

  • AP-US-VIRUS-OUTBREAK-TRIBES

Tribes take measures to slow spread of new coronavirusFLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — Native American tribes across the country are pressing the federal government for more resources to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. In the meantime, tribal leaders are suspending travel off reservations, closing casinos and hotels, instituting curfews in some places and strongly urging their citizens to protect the elderly. Tribes recently were included in a federal funding package for epidemiology, infection control, education and other things. But tribes say the $40 million is not enough. The federal Indian Health Service says it's talking with tribes to determine how best to dole out the money.

  • SPENT NUCLEAR FUEL

More time sought for public input on nuclear fuel proposalALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Members of New Mexico's congressional delegation are calling out federal nuclear regulators. They want the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to extend the public comment period for an environmental review related to a multibillion-dollar complex that would store spent nuclear fuel from commercial power plants around the U.S. In a recent preliminary recommendation, the commission favored approval of a license for Holtec International to build the facility in southeastern New Mexico. The comment period is set at 60 days, but the New Mexico officials say that should be extended and any public meetings delayed given the health emergency that has resulted from the new coronavirus. 

  • RAISING RANSOMWARE ATTACKS

New Mexico agencies on edge amid rising ransomware attacksALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico school districts, universities and government agencies have spent millions of dollars to regain control of their computer systems amid rising ransomware attacks. The Albuquerque Journal reports the attacks came after employees unknowingly opened emails containing an encrypted code that effectively shut them out of their systems. The ransomware attacks occurred between January 2018 and February 2020, and have put school districts and agencies on edge amid warnings of more technology terror. The most recent attack victimized the Gadsden Independent School District in February. Computer servers, internet, phones and email service across all 24 schools were locked out. 

  • VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO

Over 10,000 New Mexico residents file for unemploymentSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — More than 10,000 residents of New Mexico have filed for unemployment benefits in less than a week, potentially doubling the number of recipients amid economic upheaval linked to the coronavirus pandemic. The number of infections statewide increased Friday to at least 43 with positive tests in the Gallup and Las Cruces areas. New Mexicans will have extra time to file and pay their taxes as the state looks to ease the economic hardships brought on by the coronavirus. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has put limits on public gatherings as restaurants have moved to pick-up or delivery service only and casinos have closed.

  • JAGUARS-HABITAT FIGHT

Fight over jaguar habitat in Southwest heads back to courtALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A federal appeals court is ordering a New Mexico judge to reconsider a case involving a fight over critical habitat in the U.S. Southwest for the endangered jaguar. Ranchers had sued, arguing that a decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to set aside thousands of acres for the cats violated the statute that guides wildlife managers in determining whether certain areas are essential for the conservation of a species. The appellate court this week overturned an earlier ruling that had sided with federal officials. At issue is more than 170 square miles that span two desert mountain ranges along the Arizona-New Mexico border.