Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. MDT

Mar 24, 2020

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has announced new restrictions aimed at fighting the spread of the new coronavirus. She said Monday the state will order most "nonessential businesses" to close or work from home. Positive tests for the coronavirus rose to 83, with nine hospitalizations. The new restrictions require residents to limit gatherings to five people or fewer. The action follows a series of emergency public health orders that have closed down the state''s indoor shopping malls, gyms and movie theaters. School closings are likely to continue beyond an initial three-week suspension.


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is steadily pushing major public health and environmental rollbacks toward enactment, rejecting appeals that it slow its deregulatory drive during the coronavirus crisis. One Environmental Protection Agency rule would  require disclosure of the raw data behind any scientific study used in rulemaking. That includes confidential medical records that opponents say could be used to identify individuals. State and local officials have asked the EPA to delay action on that rule while Americans struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic. The EPA has refused so far, saying it's open for business as usual. 


ARTESIA, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico man is facing charges after police say he bit off a piece of his girlfriend's finger following an argument over a cell phone in bed. The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports Isiah Thompson of Artesia was arrested earlier this month for aggravated battery against a household member. Police say the argument began after the girlfriend asked the 26-year-old Thompson to put down his cell phone and go to sleep for the night. A report says an officer found nearly a quarter-inch of Aliah Encinias-Martinez left ring finger missing. Thompson remains in the Eddy County Detention Center in Carlsbad on a $10,000 cash or surety bond. It was not known if he had an attorney.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The caretaker of a mid-century S.H. Kress building in downtown Albuquerque on the historic Route 66 is seeking to renovate the building and transform it into an art gallery. The Albuquerque Journal reports caretaker Victoria Van Dame has started the process of renovating and cleaning out the property owned by Anna Muller, who moved to California for health reasons. The building has been empty for decades, and its trademark curved windows have long since been covered. Van Dame says she wants to restore the building and create a gallery that draws in creatives across all fields — visual, music, performance arts, and the culinary arts.


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.