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

Feb 23, 2021
  • Deb Haaland hearing is Indian Country's Obama moment

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — For Native Americans, Deb Haaland is more than an elected official on track to become the first Indigenous secretary of the Interior Department. She is a sister, an auntie and a fierce pueblo woman whose political stances have been molded by her upbringing. Haaland's confirmation hearing Tuesday will be closely watched in Indian Country with virtual parties amid a pandemic. Tribes and tribal organizations have for weeks been urging people to write to and call U.S. senators who will decide if she lands the job. Haaland is in her second term representing New Mexico in Congress.

  • Visitation restrictions eased at some New Mexico hospitals

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Citing downward trends in new COVID-19 cases, visitation restrictions at some New Mexico hospitals are being eased for non-coronavirus patients. Top administrators with some of the largest health care networks in the state said Monday that the changes include longer visiting hours and in some cases more than one person will be allowed in. Still, they noted that while the daily case totals have been declining, the seven-day rolling average of infections in New Mexico remains higher now that it was last spring and summer. They urged people to continue wearing masks and to keep their distance from others.

  • Albuquerque asks state to split hybrid learning, activities

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's largest school district has asked the state to separate athletics and other extracurricular activities from the hybrid learning structure being used because of the coronavirus pandemic. KRQE-TV reports Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education members said during a special meeting Monday they do not believe activities should be connected to a hybrid learning model, which is a current requirement set by the state Public Education Department. Board members say students involved in extracurricular activities overseen by the New Mexico Activities Association would perform better in school if they were allowed to continue doing extracurricular activities they love.

  • Interior nominee Haaland vows 'balance' on energy, climate

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden's nominee to head the Interior Department says oil and natural gas will continue to play a major role in America for years to come. But New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland, Biden's nominee to be interior secretary, says the United States also must address climate change and recognize that the energy industry is changing. In testimony prepared for her confirmation hearing Tuesday, she said the Interior Department has a role in "harnessing the clean energy potential of our public lands to create jobs" while restoring and conserving federal lands. If confirmed, Haaland would be the first Native American to lead a Cabinet agency.

  • New Mexico's Indigenous education advocate faces tough job

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's Indigenous communities are depending on Lashawna Tso. As the assistant secretary for Indian Education, she's the top tribal liaison for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's administration. It's her job to advocate on behalf of New Mexico's 23 tribal governments as they look to repair damage from the coronavirus pandemic. Native American children make up 10% of the state's K-12 population. They were already behind for educational opportunities when the pandemic hit. Disproportionately low access to computers and internet at home made it worse. Tso says accountability in aiding Native students will be key to recovery this year.

  • Draft state budget would boost salaries, school spending

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's state government is likely to deliver a jolt of one-time spending amid the pandemic and provide sustained funding increases on health care and public education under a newly drafted budget bill. The lead House budget committee on Monday unanimously endorsed the spending plan for the coming fiscal year that increases general fund spending by $332 million for the fiscal year that starts July 1. That represents a 4.6% increase over current fiscal year spending. Total general fund spending would increase to $7.39 billion under the plan that includes a 1.5% raise for employees throughout state government, K-12 schools and public colleges and universities. Larger raises are slated for prison guards.

  • Suspect fatally shot by police in Albuquerque street ID'ed

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque police have identified a man shot and killed by officers after they say he charged at them with a weapon in the middle of a busy street. Authorities said Sunday that 40-year-old Claude Trivino, of Hernandez, was the suspect fatally shot in a confrontation in northeast Albuquerque. Officers responded Saturday to a man who was walking in traffic, forcing cars to drive around him. Interim Police Chief Harold Medina said authorities tried using a stun gun on Trivino, who ignored commands to leave the street. Video footage by a witness shows a man throwing an object at officers before he was shot.

  • Navajo Nation reports 15 new COVID-19 cases, 1 more death

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Navajo Nation health officials on Monday reported 15 new confirmed COVID-19 cases with one additional death. The latest numbers bring the total number of cases on the vast reservation that covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah to 29,551 since the pandemic began. There have been 1,145 reported deaths that were related to COVID-19. Also on Monday, the Navajo Department of Health identified 21 communities with uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 from Feb. 5-18. That's an increase from last week's 15 communities, but down from 75 communities with uncontrolled coronavirus spread last month.