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

Nov 16, 2020

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Tribal leaders in New Mexico are meeting this week to share strategies for fighting the coronavirus pandemic. The annual Tribal Leadership Summit is bringing governors from Pueblos and other Native American nations together virtually this year. The summit is an opportunity for tribal officials to meet with New Mexico state officials to discuss issues. This year is focused on COVID-19 and, by extension, the ongoing public health and public education crisis indigenous communities face. The governor of Acoma Pueblo used the forum to protest a reduction in hospital services by the federal Indian Health Service, and thank Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for coordinating this year to bring emergency supplies.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A panel of doctors and other health care professionals is recommending increasing the amount of marijuana that can be purchased by participants in New Mexico's medical cannabis program. The advisory board voted Monday in favor of nearly doubling the limit to 15 ounces over 90 days. Supporters say that would at least put New Mexico on par with Nevada and Arizona. They noted other states have much higher limits. The panel also recommended expanding the list of qualifying conditions to include anxiety, attention deficient disorders, Tourette's and some substance abuse disorders. The state health secretary will have the final say.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's highest court is upholding the increased prison time for a repeat offender of domestic violence. The New Mexico Supreme Court unanimously ruled Monday against an Alamogordo man appealing his heightened jail sentence under the Habitual Offender Act. James Barela pleaded no contest in 2015 to battery against a household member. It was his third misdemeanor domestic violence conviction. He also had a 2010 felony conviction for false imprisonment. State law calls for a defendant with a previous felony that is not a DWI to face up to an additional year in jail. Barela's attorneys argued the misdemeanor conviction should not have been reconsidered as a felony.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Leading legislators are weighing how to safely convene to approve economic aid and post-election initiatives that might boost spending on prekindergarten and regulate recreational cannabis sales. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham wants the state to forge its own relief package for the unemployed and hard-hit businesses in the midst of a renewed statewide coronavirus lockdown that began Monday and lasts through at least Nov. 30. Preparations for New Mexico's regular legislative session, from mid-January through March, have been upended by an unprecedented surge in coronavirus infections, hospitalizations and deaths in recent weeks and days. Legislators are meeting with legal counsel to forge a plan for a legislative session amid the pandemic. 


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is starting its lockdown as Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and hospital administrators look to curb COVID-19 infections. Under the latest public health order taking effect Monday, people are being asked to stay at home and only essential businesses such as grocery stores, pharmacies, big box retailers, hardware stores and other necessary operations will be open. Universities say they're transitioning back to full online classes while many municipal government offices are closed to walk-in requests. Also as a result of the restrictions, Virgin Galactic says its plans for the first space test flight from Spaceport America will be pushed back.


WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Navajo Nation health officials are reporting 117 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths. The latest figures released Sunday bring the total number of known cases to more than 13,300 with 602 known deaths. Tribal health officials said more than 138,000 people have been tested for COVID-19 since the pandemic started and around 7,900 have recovered. The news comes as the Navajo Nation on Monday reinstated a stay-at-home lockdown for the entire reservation. The coronavirus has affected 29 communities throughout the reservation, which spans more than 27,000 square miles in parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.  


ACOMA, N.M. (AP) — Native American authorities at Acoma Pueblo say that federal authorities have suspended emergency and in-patient medical care at a hospital on Acoma tribal lands. A Friday statement from Acoma Gov. Brian Vallo condemned the suspension of services at Acoma-Canoncito-Laguna Service Unit hospital by the Indian Health Service as reckless in the midst of a major coronavirus infection surge. The Indigenous community of about 3,000 people says it has experienced a surge of COVID-19 cases, with about 100 positive tests in November. Vallo says tribal members now must travel an hour by car for intensive medical care to Albuquerque, where emergency rooms are strained by the contagion.


PHOENIX (AP) — Updates to the U.S. citizenship test will require applicants to answer more questions than before and could slow down the number of tests administered each day. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced the updated test now has 128 civics items to study from and will require applicants answer 20 questions instead of 10. Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst at the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute, says the changes to the naturalization test could possibly triple the amount each USCIS officer spends on testing applicants. Agency spokesman Dan Hetlage said the new test "covers a variety of topics that provide the applicant with a more well-rounded testing experience."