Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 p.m. MDT

May 20, 2020

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico health insurance regulators say statewide enrollment in Medicaid is on the rise as businesses shed workers in response to the coronavirus pandemic. State regulators said Tuesday that Medicaid enrollment increased by roughly 8,650 people in April over the previous month. Colin Baillio of the insurance superintendent's office says the state can expect to see more people shifting from employer-based health insurance to the federally subsidized plan for residents living in poverty or on the cusp, as unemployment swells. The state's Workforce Solutions Department was providing unemployment benefits to roughly 117,000 New Mexico residents as of last week.


RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — A Republican U.S. Senate hopeful in New Mexico is blasting one of her opponents in an ad over his previous critical comments about President Donald Trump. Elisa Martinez released Tuesday a new commercial that attacks former television weatherman Mark Ronchetti saying at a climate change event last year that he was a Republican "until the orange one," referring to the president. The Martinez ad comes after Rochetti released his own set of commercials with uplifting messages and promises that America's best days "are ahead of us." In his commercials, Ronchetti said he supports Trump's policies around China and the U.S.-Mexico border wall.


HOBBS, N.M. (AP) — Authorities in New Mexico say two parents accused of child abuse and their four children haven't been seen or heard from in nearly a month. Hobbs police issued warrants last week for Luiza Badea and Andrei Cristian Ducila for custodial interference after they skipped out on a home visit with a social worker. The state child welfare agency couldn't comment specifically on the case but said law enforcement is notified whenever contact is lost with a parent or guardian and they work to relocate them. The abuse case involving Badea and Ducila stems from 2019 when the couple was panhandling with their children.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission says a northern New Mexico hospital will pay $98,000 to settle a discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed by the agency. The case against Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe was filed on behalf of an employee who claimed a supervisor subjected her to a hostile work environment because she is deaf. The lawsuit accused the hospital of failing to provide reasonable accommodations for Asheley Coriz and firing her because of her disability and complaints she made about her supervisor's conduct. The settlement includes back pay and damages. 


RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — The founder of a group called Cowboys for Trump who also serves as a New Mexico county commissioner is facing calls to resign after he metaphorically said "the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat." A video posted online Tuesday shows Republican Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin saying he wants Democrats to die politically, not physically. He says the party is anti-American and opposed to President Donald Trump. State Democratic chairwoman Marg Elliston said Griffin's comments had no place in the state's political discourse and called for him to resign. Griffin said he would not resign because he did nothing wrong,


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico regulators say they've started crafting rules aimed at cracking down on methane emissions by the oil and gas industry and expect to make public a draft later this summer. The rules will be the culmination of a dozen meetings, hours of discussion and technical presentations by scientists, environmentalists and experts in the industry. Officials with the state environment and energy departments said during a meeting Tuesday that the goal will be striking a balance between reducing pollution and giving the industry the flexibility it needs to operate efficiently. Industry officials and regulators agreed there's no one-size-fits-all solution.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham defended her response to the coronavirus pandemic amid calls by Republican lawmakers who want her to remove enforced business restrictions. In a letter Tuesday, Lujan Grisham responded to 13 state senators who want the governor to provide only safety guidelines. The first-term Democratic governor says demands for an immediate, full-scale reopening of the economy are reckless and only serve to inflame misinformed public opinion and risk further illness and death. Lujan Grisham recently eased an emergency health order and allowed many businesses to reopen to customers at a fraction of capacity. 


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.