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

Mar 23, 2020

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has announced new restrictions aimed at fighting the spread of the novel coronavirus. She said Monday the state will order all "non-essential businesses" to close on Tuesday and require "100 percent" of the state's non-essential workforce to work from home. The announcement came as state officials said New Mexico now had 18 new coronavirus cases bringing the state's total to 83. The new restrictions ask residents to now limit gatherings to five people or less. The action follows a series of emergency public health orders that have closed down the state''s indoor shopping malls, gyms, and movie theaters.  


WASHINGTON (AP) — A Trump administration official says illegal border crossings have dropped by half as the strictest U.S.-Mexico border policies yet went into place amid the coronavirus pandemic, despite confusion about how it was all working. Anyone caught crossing the border illegally is to be immediately returned back to Mexico or Canada, according to the new restrictions based on an order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention late Friday. According Mark Morgan, the acting head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the decision applies to all migrants.  


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has given orders to establish a coronavirus testing site in each of the state's 33 counties. Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel said she received the order to expand the reach of testing facilities on Sunday as the COVID-19 virus spread far beyond the Albuquerque-Santa Fe population corridor to the oil-producing southeast corner of the state. The state lists 20 available coronavirus screening sites. Kunkel joined a town call-in forum on state and federal responses to the coronavirus hosted by U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small. Callers denounced shortages in protective equipment for medical workers and probed for economic survival tips. 


CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — Oil companies have begun reducing operations in the Permian Basin as the new coronavirus slows global energy demands and adds to the drop in the price of oil. The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports Houston-based Apache Corporation announced it would pull all its oil and gas rigs out of the Permian to save on short-term spending. Pioneer Natural Resources, which operates mostly in the Delaware Basin on the western side of the Permian and is one of the largest acreage holders in the region, also announced a significant cut in operations. Overall, Pioneer's capital budget was to be cut by 45 percent.


FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — Navajo Nation residents are being asked to fill out a survey about internet access and cellular service on tribal land. The Farmington Daily Times reports an ad hoc group comprised of tribal government employees and technology professionals is conducting the survey and will use responses to develop a strategic broadband plan for the nation's largest Native American reservation. Magellan Advisors CEO Courtney Violette says the goal is to design a network capable of delivering a minimum of 25 megabits per second to every person on the Navajo Nation. The Federal Communications Commission's definition for broadband is a minimum of 25 megabits download and three megabits upload.


(Information from: Indian Country Today, https://indiancountrytoday.com/)People across Indian Country are organizing online and social-distancing powwows and posting videos of healing dances to offer support during the coronavirus pandemic. Indian Country Today reports community song and dance have always been a part of health and prayer for Native Americans. And now they're putting a digital spin on these traditions. Jingle dress dancers are sharing videos on YouTube and Facebook from Montana, Arizona, the Dakotas and elsewhere. And Facebook groups like Social Distance Powwow are connecting dancers, vendors and others. In Wisconsin, jingle dress dancers and singers performed outdoors on the Bad River Reservation over the weekend. Community members watched from their cars.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The family of a 92-year-old woman who froze to death in Santa Fe has filed a lawsuit saying Santa Fe police did not try hard enough to find her. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports a lawyer for Antonia Garcia's family said last week they believe she may have gotten lost while on her way to Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in March 2019. The wrongful death complaint filed in state District Court says a neighbor called police around 11:25 p.m. that day to say she saw an elderly woman leaning against a metal post. But court documents say the dispatcher and police officers treated the call as "a low priority call." A city spokeswoman declined to comment on the pending litigation.


CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — Ranchers in a southeastern New Mexico community and a potash company are locking in fight over water rights connected to the Pecos River. The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports the Denver-based Intrepid Potash recently claimed ownership of about 35,000 acre feet of water rights along the Pecos, with 19,000 identified for consumption. Ranchers in a rural area south of Carlsbad said that move could completely drain the Pecos. The Carlsbad Irrigation District filed litigation intended to block Intrepid's ownership of the water and seven "preliminary authorizations" granted by the Office of the State Engineer to change the point of diversion and manner of use of the water. Intrepid's attorney declined to comment.