Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 5:20 p.m. MDT

Jun 25, 2020

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (AP) — About 80% of inmates at the Otero County prison in southern New Mexico have tested positive for the coronavirus. The outbreak started in early May when officials learned a staff member tested positive for COVID-19. State Corrections Secretary Alisha Tafoya Lucero says more than 400 inmates tested positive and three have died. The prison also holds inmates serving time on federal convictions, mostly related to drugs. There were 275 positive cases among those inmates. The percentage of federal prisoners infected with COVID-19 is unclear.


UPHAM, N.M. (AP) — Virgin Galactic is celebrating the second successful glide flight of its spaceship over Spaceport America in southern New Mexico. The space tourism company announced the completion of the test flight Thursday. Unlike the first glide test in early May, the pilots flew at higher speeds to help evaluate the ship's systems and performance in preparation for the next stage of testing. That will involve rocket-powered flights. While the company is in the midst of final testing and making modifications to the customer cabin, officials have yet to offer a date for the start of commercial flights.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The nation's largest Native American tribe and several environmental groups are waging a legal challenge to a revised federal rule that lifts protections for many streams, creeks and wetlands across the U.S. Critics say the rule, which took effect Monday, drastically reduces the number of waterways across the Navajo Nation and arid regions that are protected under the Clean Water Act. The Navajo Nation and environmental groups filed complaints this week in federal court. Some groups contend New Mexico is disproportionately affected because of the large number of small streams in the state that flow only during wet times of the year.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is launching a new anti-drunk driving campaign that also encourages people to wear face coverings and keep their distance from one another. Officials say this will mark the first time the state uses animation in its "ENDWI" television spots and social media posts. Transportation Secretary Mike Sandoval says alcohol sales increased when people started staying home due to the coronavirus pandemic and the concern is there could be an increase in impaired driving as the state opens and people began socializing. Figures show there were 33 alcohol-related fatalities in New Mexico over the first five months of the year.


LAS VEGAS, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico undersheriff is facing charges stemming from a brawl at a Valentine's Day dance. The Las Vegas Optic reports San Miguel County Undersheriff Mike Padilla was charged with misdemeanor aggravated battery months after police say there was a fight involving two groups. Four others, including Padilla's wife and son, are also facing misdemeanor charges. Court records show that Padilla was not arrested, but instead issued a summons, a practice that has become more common since the coronavirus outbreak. Padilla's attorney, Marc Grano, says he is still reviewing the case.


NEW YORK (AP) — A fund of up to $630 million set up for victims of the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein is open for business. The fund's administrator said Thursday that well over 70 women who say they were abused by Epstein when they were as young as 14 were expected to apply. Administrator Jordana Feldman says the women will be applying for a cut of his estate. A judge in the Virgin Islands approved the fund this month. It compensates women abused by Epstein before New York federal prosecutors charged him last year with sex trafficking of women and girls in the early 2000s. He'd already been convicted of charges in Florida state court over a decade ago. The 66-year-old Epstein killed himself while awaiting trial in a Manhattan lockup last year.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The leader of one of the largest Native American tribes in the U.S. called Wednesday on New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to end efforts to fight a court ruling that orders improvements in education for members of his tribe and other vulnerable groups. The comments from Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez come ahead of a court hearing next week in which Lujan Grisham will ask a state judge to dismiss a consolidated lawsuit representing Native American and Hispanic plaintiffs. Her administration argues that the state has increased funding for education, that future changes will take years, and that they should not be micromanaged by court orders. 


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Solar panels with the capacity to produce hundreds of megawatts of electricity and back-up battery storage systems would be installed in northwestern New Mexico to replace the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station under one alternative that will be considered by state regulators. Hearing examiners with the Public Regulation Commission issued the recommendations Wednesday in a case that has been fraught with protests, political power struggles and legal battles. The document states that New Mexico's new energy transition law puts more weight on environmental effects than on cost. so some of the options that include more renewable energy could end up costing ratepayers more.