May 7, 2020

Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. MDT


Infections climb amid lockdown at gateway to Navajo Nation

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — State and local authorities are weighing their options for containing the spread of coronavirus at a normally busy gateway to the Navajo Nation on the possible expiration date for an emergency lockdown on the city of Gallup. Emergency powers under the state Riot Control Act were scheduled to expire Thursday at noon unless extended by New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. Sheriff’s deputies and state police have blockading roadways leading in and out of the city since May 1 to restrict travel and business to emergency services and provisions, while limiting vehicles to two occupants.


Tea Party Super PAC calls GOP US House hopeful a ‘liberal’

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — A new ad by Super PAC working to elect Tea Party-leaning candidates in U.S. House races is calling one GOP hopeful “a Trump-hating liberal.” The ad released this week by House Freedom Action Super PAC attacks oil executive Claire Chase over old Facebook posts from the 2016 presidential primary, where Chase expressed dislike for Donald Trump’s behavior. The ad then says the president needs allies, not “liberal enemies” like Chase or “nasty” Rep. Nancy Pelosi in Congress. Chase has since apologized for the old post and says she supports Trump now. Chase campaign manager Mike Berg called the ad “disgusting” and said Chase opponent Yvette Herrell has been linked to anti-Trump events.


Lawsuit: New Mexico man’s body mutilated to fit into coffin

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A lawsuit says a New Mexico funeral home broke the legs of the body of a tall man so he could fit into a smaller coffin. The Albuquerque Journal reports the family of Dakota Powell has filed a lawsuit in state district court against French Funerals and Cremations for allegedly mutilating his corpse and ignoring family instructions for a Jewish burial. Funeral home president Tom Antram says an investigation conducted by the funeral home’s insurance company found no wrongdoing. The funeral for the 26-year-old was held in French’s chapel in August 2017. The family seeks an unspecified amount in compensatory and punitive damages.


Official: US must move ahead with nuclear weapons work

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A top nuclear security official says the U.S. must move ahead with plans to ramp up production of key components for the nation’s nuclear arsenal despite challenges tied to the coronavirus. Federal officials have set a 2030 deadline for increased production of the plutonium cores used in nuclear weapons. The work will be split between facilities in New Mexico and South Carolina and will attract billions of federal dollars. The head of the National Nuclear Security Administration said in a recent letter to a New Mexico senator that her agency has worked to protect employees from the virus at Los Alamos National Laboratory while pushing forward with defense work. 


Memo outlines budget hole for New Mexico state government

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The economic fallout in New Mexico from the coronavirus pandemic is likely to wipe out between $2.1 billion and $3.9 billion in previously anticipated state government income by mid-2021, a group of state economists announced Wednesday. A memo from staff economists at three executive agencies and the Legislature outlined two scenarios for the economic downturn and recovery. Both involve plummeting state revenues from personal income taxes and gross receipts taxes on sales and services, as well as reduced income from severance taxes and federal royalty payments on oil production.


GOP US Senate hopeful unveils ad, doesn’t mention Trump

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (AP) — Former television weatherman and Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Mark Ronchetti has released a new ad with uplifting messages but doesn’t mention President Donald Trump. The ad unveiled Tuesday uses footage of the raising of the American Flag on Iwo Jima and astronauts on the moon. The commercial comes after the Albuquerque Journal reported last week his GOP rivals criticized him for saying at a climate change event last year that he was a Republican “until the orange one,” an implicit reference to Trump. Ronchetti campaign manager Jeff Glassburner called opponents engaging in negative attacks unelectable. 


Navajo Nation reports 6 additional deaths due to COVID-19

WINDOW ROCK, N.M. (AP) — Navajo Nation officials report six additional deaths from COVID-19, raising the total on the tribe’s reservation to at least 79 as of Tuesday. Tribal officials also reported 85 additional positive COVID-19 cases, raising the total on the reservation at least 2,599 as of Tuesday. The Navajo Nation has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak, with the tribe implementing curfews to try to stop the spread of the disease among residents of its far-flung communities. The reservation includes parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. The counties with the most reported positive cases as of Tuesday were New Mexico’s McKinley County with 705 cases and Arizona’s Apache and Navajo counties with 622 cases and and 556 cases, respectively..


New Mexico officials report more coronavirus cases, deaths

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico health officials say another 153 coronavirus cases have been confirmed, pushing the statewide total to nearly 4,300. Seven additional deaths were also reported Wednesday. That includes four patients in McKinley County, a rural area in western New Mexico that accounts for nearly one-third of the state’s cases. The county’s most populous city, Gallup, is under a lockdown aimed to curbing the spread. During the pandemic, state officials say New Mexico agencies have delivered more than 5.4 million meals to children and youth, more than 293,000 meals to seniors and more than 400,000 pounds of food items to those communities most in need.

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