- Biden highlighting federal 'surge' to help weather omicron
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is highlighting the federal government's efforts to "surge" medical personnel to help overwhelmed medical facilities. The effort comes amid the upswing in coronavirus cases and staff shortages due to the omicron variant. Starting next week, 1,000 military medical personnel will begin arriving to help mitigate staffing crunches at hospitals across the country. Many facilities are struggling because their workers are in at-home quarantines due to the virus during a spike in COVID-19 cases. Biden on Thursday will announce military medical teams being deployed to Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio and Rhode Island. The deployments are on top of federal medical personnel already sent to states.
- Film armorer blames ammo supplier in deadly 'Rust' shooting
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A new lawsuit accuses an ammunition supplier of creating dangerous conditions on a movie set where a gun held by actor Alec Baldwin killed a cinematographer, by including live ammunition in a box that was supposed to include only dummy rounds. The lawsuit was filed in New Mexico state district court by Hannah Gutierrez Reed, the armorer who oversaw firearms, ammunition and related training on the set of "Rust" alongside two assistants. Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins died on Oct. 21 from a gunshot wound during a "Rust" rehearsal at a ranch on the outskirts of Santa Fe in northern New Mexico.
- New Mexico woman pleads not guilty to putting baby in trash
HOBBS, N.M. (AP) — An 18-year-old New Mexico woman accused of abandoning her newborn baby in a dumpster has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted first-degree murder and child abuse. Alexis Avila of Hobbs was told by a Lea County judge at her arraignment Wednesday that she can stay out of jail pending trial and set house arrest as a main condition of release. Avila is accused of throwing her baby boy into a dumpster behind a mall just hours after giving birth. She says she didn't know she was pregnant until the day before. Authorities say the infant now is in the care of the New Mexico Department of Children, Youth and Families.
- Governor polls local mayors on infrastructure priorities
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's Democratic governor is polling local politicians on their infrastructure priorities as the state decides how to dispense federal pandemic relief money and spend from a multibillion-dollar budget surplus. Breaking with past routines, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has delayed annual infrastructure recommendations to hold an online summit Friday with mayors from across the state. They'll discuss their priorities on construction projects ranging from high-speed internet to senior centers, water systems and roadways. The deliberations are a prelude to decisions on how to spend New Mexico's share of a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure package signed by President Joe Biden in November.
- Cyber attack closes New Mexico's largest school district
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's largest school district is canceling classes due to a cyber attack. Albuquerque Public Schools announced Wednesday that it will close all schools on Thursday. District spokeswoman Monica Armenta says in a statement that the district has contractors working on the problem. She says the district hopes to reopen on Friday. But it will provide an update Thursday by noon if the cyberattack is not resolved. Albuquerque schools serve 20% of the state's K-12 public school students. The district has had fewer in-person learning days during the pandemic due to a later-than-average return to in-person learning last spring.
- Another Game Commission member gone amid stream access fight
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has dismissed another member of a state commission that oversees wildlife conservation and hunting and fishing regulations as a dispute simmers over public access to streams and rivers that flow through private property. Jeremy Vesbach was among those on the state Game Commission who voted last year to deny several landowners permits to restrict access to waterways that crossed their property. Lujan Grisham has been careful to walk the line on the issue publicly, and some critics point to political campaign contributions by wealthy landowners as the reason. The governor's office denied that Vesbach's dismissal was related to matters of stream access.
- Federal lab in New Mexico pauses vaccine mandate
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — One of the federal government's national laboratories in New Mexico is pausing a vaccine mandate that was set to go into effect this month. The associate director of mission services at Sandia National Laboratories told the Albuquerque Journal that the lab's decision comes amid an ongoing lawsuit that was filed by a handful of unvaccinated employees. Lab officials contend the vaccination requirement was aimed at creating a safe work environment. The latest data from the New Mexico Department of Health shows vaccinated people made up nearly 40% of the new COVID-19 cases over the last four weeks. State data shows about 82% of people hospitalized are unvaccinated.
- $10K reward offered in shooting of Farmington police officer
FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — Authorities are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of a man sought in the Friday night shooting of a Farmington police officer. The U.S. Marshals Service is offering the reward for information regarding Elias Buck. The 22-year-old is charged with aggravated battery upon on a police officer in the Friday night shooting in which Officer Joseph Barreto was wounded. Farmington police say Barreto has been released from the hospital and is at home recovering. According to police, the shooting occurred when Barreto tried to detain Buck after seeing Buck and a female companion walking after a car had been reported as possibly being involved in drunken driving.