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

Feb 19, 2021

25 asylum-seekers who were waiting in Mexico released in USSAN DIEGO (AP) — The U.S. government has released 25 asylum-seekers in the United States with notices to appear in court, ending their long waits in Mexico. The move Friday marks a milestone in unraveling a key policy of former President Donald Trump to deter asylum. Jewish Family Service of San Diego says the asylum-seekers were released in San Diego after testing negative for COVID-19 in Mexico and were being taken to San Diego hotels to quarantine. U.S. authorities expect to release 25 people a day in San Diego. People also are expected to be let into the country starting next week in Brownsville and El Paso, Texas. 


Cyberattack strikes hospital that serves Navajo NationSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A pandemic-besieged hospital on the edge of the Navajo Nation says it has been the focus of a cyberattack. The nonprofit operator of Rehoboth McKinley Christian Hospital in Gallup on Thursday issued a brief statement acknowledging "unauthorized activity" on its computer network. Hospital spokeswoman Ina Burmeister says hospital operators have hired private investigators and taken other undisclosed measures to prevent further unauthorized activity. A wave of digital assaults has been taking U.S. health care providers hostage as they contend with the COVID-19 pandemic. 


New Mexico House speaker responds to ethics complaintSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Democratic House Speaker Brian Egolf says a recent ethics complaint against him is an effort to distract him from work as a legislator. Egolf made the comments Thursday in an online forum with reporters. Retired state district judge and former district attorney Sandra Price of Aztec has filed a complaint with the State Ethics Commission that accuses Egolf of promoting legislation that may financially benefit his legal practice without disclosing a conflict of interest. The Albuquerque-based commission has not yet made any decision on the merits of the complaint.


Report: Emergency exits at state Capitol violated fire codeALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A report by a New Mexico television station found that the emergency exits at the state Capitol building violated the fire code. KRQE-TV found on Monday that all the marked emergency exits from the state Capitol were locked from the inside during business hours. The fire code states that any door marked with an illuminated exit sign is considered an emergency exit and cannot be locked from the inside while the building is occupied during normal business hours. The doors have since been unlocked. Department of Public Safety Interim Cabinet Secretary Tim Johnson says the oversight was not intentional.


Navajo Nation reports 43 new COVID-19 cases, 13 more deathsWINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Navajo Nation officials reported 43 new confirmed COVID-19 cases Thursday with 13 additional deaths. The latest numbers bring the total number of cases on the vast reservation that covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah to 29,386 since the pandemic began. There have been 1,127 reported deaths that were related to COVID-19. Tribal President Jonathan Nez said the Navajo Area Indian Health Service has administered 101,332 vaccines doses on the Navajo Nation as of Thursday. That surpasses the goal of administering at least 100,000 doses by the end of this month. Nez says that even those who have been fully vaccinated need to continue taking precautions to avoid spreading the virus. 


New Mexico schools make plans for virtual, hybrid learningSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Albuquerque school board has rejected a proposal aimed at partially returning students to the classroom during the coronavirus pandemic as part of a hybrid learning model. The board voted 4-3 against hybrid learning, keeping the district virtual through the end of the year with limited in-person groups. The board also approved a measure to allow some groups in-person instruction, including students at risk of failing or seniors who need additional help. In Las Cruces, school officials rolled out their plan this week. It allows high school students who opted to return to attend class in person two days a week as early as Monday.


New Mexico Senate endorses $200 million for business grantsSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The state Senate has endorsed a bill that would provide $200 million from the state general fund to thousands of businesses that experienced income declines in 2020 on a 41-1 vote. Endorsed Friday, the bill would provide individual grants of up to $100,000 without repayment to businesses for the reimbursement of rent, lease or mortgage obligations on property located in New Mexico. The bill returns to the House for consideration of Senate amendments. The proposal from Democratic House Speaker Brian Egolf and allied state Rep. Christine Chandler of Los Alamos stands among a long list of bills aimed at reviving the local economy as New Mexico emerges from the pandemic.


Utility financing bill clears New Mexico Senate panelSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A measure aimed at saving customers money when utilities opt to close power plants and recover lost investments has narrowly cleared its first legislative hurdle. A New Mexico Senate panel voted 5-4 Thursday to advance the bill. Supporters of the legislation say it would clear the way for other utilities to use the same financing mechanisms that were afforded Public Service Co. of New Mexico under the state's landmark Energy Transition Act. In the case of the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station, PNM was allowed to recover its lost investments with $361 million in low-cost bonds that will be paid for by ratepayers.