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

Nov 17, 2020

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico has hit a new high in virus deaths and infections. State officials reported 28 coronavirus-related deaths on Tuesday and over 2,000 new confirmed cases. Meanwhile, education officials are working to locate 12,000 students who have disappeared from public school rolls and haven't said why they left. Schools in New Mexico are funded based on the number of students they have on the 40th day of the school year, so the emerging exodus could result in a drop in school funding. The Public Education Department is trying to track down those 12,000 students and enroll them if possible.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — State legislators are keeping a wary eye on trends in oil prices and production as the number of active drilling rigs and new wells has plummeted from pre-pandemic levels, threatening a crucial source of state income amid the coronavirus pandemic. A report from the budget and accountability office of the Legislature found that drilling for new petroleum wells in New Mexico's share of the Permian Basin declined precipitously. Spending cuts are proposed next year at a variety of state agencies to help conserve financial resources. New Mexico's governor says she wants to call a special legislative session to provide new economic relief to the unemployed and hard-hit businesses.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Multiple ski resorts in New Mexico have delayed opening in response to state-mandated COVID-19 lockdown orders that went into effect on Monday. The regulations by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham are expected to continue through Nov. 30. Ski Santa Fe and Taos Ski Valley were originally scheduled to open on Thanksgiving Day. Ski Santa Fe General Manager Ben Abruzzo says the resort now plans to open as soon as it can. Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort would have become the first ski resort in the state to open its doors on Friday. Marketing Manager Christiana Hudson says staff are now preparing to increase safety measures.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's largest city is looking for its next police chief and seeking community input as the process moves forward. Albuquerque staff and a specialist hired to help with the search have been meeting with community members and organizations. They've also posted a survey online to collect comments. Mayor Tim Keller says the city wants to know what residents would like to see in their next police chief. The city has been dealing with high crime rates and its police force has been working on reforms for years under the guidance of the U.S. Justice Department and a federal monitor.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The U.S. attorney's office says it destroyed a quarter-million plants during marijuana eradication efforts at 21 farms in the Shiprock area of the Navajo Nation in northwestern New Mexico. A Monday news release from federal prosecutors says the raids by U.S., state and tribal law enforcement took three days to carry out and involved more than 1,100 makeshift greenhouses. In one instance, 1,000 pounds of processed marijuana was discovered under a tarp. The news release makes no mention of arrests or charges. In October, more than a dozen people were arrested on drug charges at a motel in the area.


Last week the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops congratulated Joe Biden on his presidential election victory. Now Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez is sounding a different tone, saying some of Biden's policy positions including support for abortion rights pose a "difficult and complex situation" for the church. At the same time, Gomez welcomes many of the president-elect's stances, such as on immigration and racial justice. During an online national meeting of bishops Tuesday, Gomez said he is appointing a working group to examine the dilemma. Some conservative bishops were upset last week by Gomez's congratulations to Biden, who will be the second Catholic president.


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.