- Navajo Nation reports 237 new COVID-19 cases, 22 more deaths
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Navajo Nation health officials are reporting 237 new coronavirus cases and 22 more deaths. The latest figures released Friday evening increased the tribe's totals since the pandemic began to 24,776 cases and 866 known deaths. Reports of some of the new deaths were delayed. The Navajo Nation started a weekend lockdown Friday night that extends until 5 a.m. on Monday. All Navajo Nation residents are required to stay at home unless they are essential workers or have an emergency. The weekend lockdowns extend through Jan. 25.
- New Mexico's top state Senate Democrat outlines priorities
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's top-ranked state senator says Democrats will push for direct financial relief to low-income, front-line workers who have borne the brunt of the pandemic during the upcoming legislative session. The idea already is popular among minority Republican legislators. Democratic Senate majority leader Peter Wirth said Friday that pandemic relief efforts are likely to take center stage at the outset of the 60-day session that begins Jan. 19. Wirth also is outlining new details of a push to channel more money each year toward public education. A political shift among Senate Democrats also may lead to more progressive tax rates.
- New Mexico Supreme Court overturns child abuse convictions
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico Supreme Court has overturned the child abuse convictions of an Albuquerque man in the 2015 death of an infant who had multiple bruises on his head and body. A divided court ruled there wasn't enough evidence to support Christopher Garcia's convictions, saying prosecutors failed to prove that the 14-month-old boy would not have died absent the defendant's failure to seek medical care. The ruling raised immediate concerns for New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas. He said New Mexico is already one of the most dangerous states in the U.S. for children, and the ruling will make it more difficult to hold child abusers accountable.
- Lawyers: New Mexico trying to comply with education needs
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Lawyers for the state say the New Mexico Public Education Department is working with school districts and internet providers to expand broadband access in rural areas struggling with remote learning. In a response filed in court this week, they also said school funding hasn't been cut since the pandemic started. The filing comes after plaintiffs in a landmark education lawsuit argued that the state's attempts to provide internet access and learning devices were "woefully insufficient." They are seeking to force the state to connect more children to online learning by identifying students who lack laptops or tablets and providing internet vouchers for at-risk households.
- New Mexico Health Vaccinations
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico health officials are moving ahead with vaccination distribution by expanding the list of those who are eligible for shots. On Friday, people 75 and older joined the list along with people who have underlying medical conditions that place them at greater risk. The list also includes front-line essential employees who can't work remotely and vulnerable groups such as the homeless and those in correctional facilities. State officials say New Mexico is among the leading states when it comes to vaccination rates. They estimate that between 62,000 to 68,500 vaccines had been administered in New Mexico, from a supply of more than 106,000 doses.
- US judge blocks Trump administration's sweeping asylum rules
PHOENIX (AP) — A U.S. judge has blocked the Trump administration's most sweeping set of asylum restrictions less than two weeks before President-elect Joe Biden takes office. The rules had been set to take effect Monday. Friday's ruling has limited immediate impact because the government has largely suspended asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border during the coronavirus pandemic. Still, letting the rules take effect would have been felt by some who can still claim asylum and make it significantly more difficult for all asylum-seekers once pandemic-related measures are lifted. The Trump administration argued the measures were an appropriate response to a system rife with abuse. But the judge says the acting Homeland Security secretary lacks authority to impose the sweeping rules.
- Bean carries Utah St. over New Mexico 82-46
LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — Justin Bean had 13 points and 13 rebounds as Utah State won its eighth consecutive game, rolling past New Mexico 82-46. Neemias Queta added 11 points and 13 rebounds for the Aggies. Makuach Maluach led the Lobos with 13 points.
- State GOP says election tarnished democracy, faces criticism
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Republican Party Chairman Steve Pearce says democracy has been tarnished by unanswered questions about the 2020 vote count, which state officials called a false narrative. His statement Thursday stops just short of repeating President Donald Trump's baseless claims of election fraud. Pearce says the state Republican Party recognizes Congress' certification of the the victory by President-elect Joe Biden. But he says he has unanswered questions about the vote count, voting machines and drop boxes for absentee ballots. A spokesman for the secretary of state's office says New Mexico's election was independently audited and that Pearce and the Republican Party "should be ashamed of themselves for continuing false narratives."