- New Mexico reports 1,180 additional cases, 10 more deaths
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico reported an additional 1,180 additional known COVID-19 cases and 10 more deaths as preparations began for a two-week near-lockdown ordered by the governor to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. The additional cases reported Saturday increased the statewide total to 63,171 cases while the death toll rose to 1,208. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Friday ordered many businesses to close and asked residents to stay home starting Monday following a steady increase in infections, hospitalizations and deaths. Under the governor's order, grocery stores, pharmacies, day cares, gas stations and other essential businesses can still operate.
- Navajo Nation orders new three-week stay-at-home lockdown
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation on Monday will reinstate a stay-home lockdown order for the entire reservation while closing tribal offices and requiring new closures and safety measures for businesses due to rising COVID-19 cases. Tribal officials announced Friday night that the lockdown order goes into effect Monday for a three-week period. A previously ordered 56-hour weekend curfew began Friday night. Much of the Navajo Nation was closed between March and August as the coronavirus swept through the vast reservation that covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. Tribal health officials on Wednesday warned residents of new "uncontrolled spread" of COVID-19 in 34 reservation communities.
- Acoma tribal governor says hospital cut vital services
ACOMA, N.M. (AP) — Native American authorities at Acoma Pueblo say that federal authorities have suspended emergency and in-patient medical care at a hospital on Acoma tribal lands. A Friday statement from Acoma Gov. Brian Vallo condemned the suspension of services at Acoma-Canoncito-Laguna Service Unit hospital by the Indian Health Service as reckless in the midst of a major coronavirus infection surge. The Indigenous community of about 3,000 people says it has experienced a surge of COVID-19 cases, with about 100 positive tests in November. Vallo says tribal members now must travel an hour by car for intensive medical care to Albuquerque, where emergency rooms are strained by the contagion.
- U.S. citizenship test adds more questions, draws criticism
PHOENIX (AP) — Updates to the U.S. citizenship test will require applicants to answer more questions than before and could slow down the number of tests administered each day. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced the updated test now has 128 civics items to study from and will require applicants answer 20 questions instead of 10. Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst at the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute, says the changes to the naturalization test could possibly triple the amount each USCIS officer spends on testing applicants. Agency spokesman Dan Hetlage said the new test "covers a variety of topics that provide the applicant with a more well-rounded testing experience."
- Biden gives boost to retiring senator's climate change plan
WASHINGTON (AP) — A plan championed by retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico to harness the nation's lands and ocean waters to fight climate change is getting a boost from Joe Biden. The president-elect has made slowing global warming a priority for his incoming administration. Udall is the last serving member of a political dynasty that's represented the West in Washington for nearly seven decades. He's emerged as a leading contender for interior secretary under Biden. Udall's plan calls for conservation of 30% of the country's lands and ocean waters in the next 10 years, setting aside millions of acres for recreation, wildlife and climate efforts by 2030.
- New Mexico airport finishes $9M upgrade to boost capacity
SANTA TERESA, N.M. (AP) — An airport in New Mexico's border region has finished a $9 million upgrade aimed at increasing capacity. Officials with the Doña Ana County International Jetport at Santa Teresa say the airport will now be able to handle some cargo planes and larger corporate aircraft. The airport is located near the border with Texas and Mexico, a region that has seen booming trade and commerce in recent years. The airport abuts a major rail line and a growing industrial park. The renovation was funded by state and federal grants.
- VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO
New Mexico governor hopes 'pause' will blunt virus surgeSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Gyms, salons, golf courses and other nonessential businesses will have to close under public health restrictions being reimposed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. The Democratic governor said Friday she's hitting the reset button in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19. People also are being told to stay home except for essential trips related to health, safety and welfare. The governor says the state is at a breaking point and that a two-week pause will afford New Mexico an opportunity to blunt the virus. Confirmed cases have now topped 62,000 in the state, and nearly 1,200 deaths have been reported.
- Murder charge filed in 2019 slaying of Albuquerque mother
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Authorities in New Mexico have charged a Mexican national with the 2019 slaying of the mother of two state police officers. District Attorney Raul Torrez announced the charges against Luis Talamantes-Romero during a news conference Thursday. Talamantes-Romero is in federal custody in Texas awaiting sentencing for illegal re-entry into the U.S. He's also facing charges of aggravated burglary, tampering with evidence and other crimes. Jacqueline Vigil was shot dead last year in her driveway as she prepared to leave for the gym. The case had gone unsolved for months, drawing the attention of President Donald Trump as he pushed his tough-on-crime agenda.