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

Jan 19, 2021

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico lawmakers are confronting daunting challenges as they begin a 60-day session during the coronavirus pandemic. Lawmakers met Tuesday at a Statehouse guarded by troops and encircled by fencing, barricades and mobile security cameras. Proposals aimed at reviving the economy are at the top of the agenda for lawmakers in the Democratic-led Legislature. Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is pushing for increased state spending on pandemic relief, education and health care. Lightning-rod initiatives also have been drafted that would allow broad marijuana sales, shore up abortion rights and reform police oversight.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Officials with New Mexico's largest health care providers say a recent decrease in statewide COVID-19 hospitalizations is not enough to ease up on mask wearing or other measures aimed at curbing spread. Hospital administrators provided an update during a briefing Tuesday. The number of people hospitalized in New Mexico due to the virus was just over 640 on Tuesday, which was among the lowest levels in recent months. But the hospital officials described the decrease as more of a plateau, saying modeling suggests they could see increases through February. New Mexico has confirmed nearly 165,000 infections since the pandemic began.


ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico county official who runs the group Cowboys for Trump and was arrested in connection with the riot at the U.S. Capitol is facing calls to resign.Otero County Commissioners Gerald Matherly and Vickie Marquardt demanded in a statement Tuesday that fellow district commissioner Couy Griffin step down immediately. They say his arrest Sunday by the FBI is a culmination of an endless series of investigations and lawsuits stemming from his promotion of Cowboys for Trump. Griffin faces charges of illegally entering the U.S. Capitol. According to court documents, Griffin told investigators he never entered the building. Video, however, shows him in a restricted area.


DULUTH, Minn. (AP) — A group of Native American tribes in a Minnesota congressman's district is rebuking him for his attempts to derail President-elect Joe Biden's pick for Interior secretary. If confirmed, Rep. Deb Haaland, a Democrat from New Mexico, would be the first Native American to lead the Department of the Interior. Republican Rep. Pete Stauber, a member of the House's subcommittee on Indigenous Peoples, has been asking fellow lawmakers to join him in urging Biden's transition team to withdraw Haaland's nomination. In a letter seeking support, Stauber cites Haaland's opposition to policies that he says would place a moratorium on mining in northern Minnesota. 


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Health officials in New Mexico said 628 new coronavirus cases and 26 deaths were reported Monday. The latest numbers from the Department of Health bring the total known cases to 163,637 and deaths from COVID-19 to 2,958. Of the new cases, 161 are in Bernalillo County, the state's largest county that includes Albuquerque. San Juan County, which includes Farmington, had 62 new cases. The number of infections is thought to be far higher than reported because many people have not been tested. Studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick. 


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has delayed indefinitely her annual State of the State address amid the dangers and logistical challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. Lujan Grisham spokeswoman Nora Meyers Sackett says the speech will not take place at the opening of the Legislature on Tuesday as it traditionally would. Ordinarily, the governor of New Mexico delivers a speech about current events, recent government accomplishments and legislative priorities to a joint session of the House and Senate also attended by Cabinet secretaries and justices of the state Supreme Court. Governors including Wisconsin's Tony Evers have opted for remote, pre-recorded State of State speeches this year.


WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Officials on the Navajo Nation reported 65 new COVID-19 cases and three more deaths. The latest figures released late Monday bring the total reported coronavirus cases on the reservation to 26,448, including 922 deaths. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in a statement that while people are getting vaccinated, it's crucial to keep in mind that another variant of the virus has been found in nearby regions. Nez says residents still need to remain vigilant and practice health safety measures like staying home. Residents of the vast reservation are still under a stay-at-home order Friday through Monday morning. On Tuesday, the Navajo Department of Health identified 75 communities with uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 from Jan. 1-14.


FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — Officials have closed a section of road on the Navajo Nation through the end of February due to concerns about persistent drag racing. The Farmington Daily Times reported Monday that the Bureau of Indian Affairs Division of Transportation closed 2.5 miles of Navajo Route 4178 near the Navajo Agricultural Products Industry farm and food product company. NAPI CEO Dave Zeller said drag racing has been an issue in the area for several years and is a safety concern for employees and travelers. Navajo Police Department spokeswoman Christina Tsosie says police resources and officers have been stationed in the area but officials need a long-term plan.