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MON: Navajo Nation Closes Tourist Sites Through 2020, + More

Ken Lund via Flickr
Spider Rock, Canyon de Chelly

Tourist Sites On Navajo Nation To Remain Closed Through 2020Associated Press

Tourist sites on the Navajo Nation, including the Four Corners Monument, will be closed through at least the rest of the year.

The Navajo Parks and Recreation Department cited a rise in coronavirus cases on the reservation and a tribal public health order in making the announcement. It said it will reassess in January.

The closure extends to rivers, trails, canyons and roads that lead to tribal parks at Lake Powell, the Little Colorado River, Antelope Canyon and Window Rock.

The National Park Service separately oversees popular spots like Canyon de Chelly National Monument and the Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site. But the agency said it will operate in line with the Navajo Nation's orders.

The tribe reported 19 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday and one death, bringing the total number of cases to 10,441 since the pandemic began and the number of deaths to 559.

A shelter-in-place order, mask mandate, daily curfews and weekend lockdowns remain in effect on the vast reservation that stretches into New Mexico, Utah and Arizona.

FBI Agent, Federal Prosecutor Assigned To Monitor Election Associated Press

Federal law enforcement authorities are stepping up their vigilance for any possible civil rights violations related to the Nov. 3 election by establishing an FBI command post and assigning a prosecutor to monitor complaints or threats.


The precautionary effort is unprecedented in recent memory and was announced at a joint news conference Monday attended by New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver and officials from the FBI and U.S. Attorney's office.


The command center will be supervised by FBI Special Agent in Charge Jim Langenberg on Election Day and in the succeeding days as votes are tallied.


The process of tallying ballots is likely to take more time than usual in November because of a massive surge in absentee balloting in response to the coronavirus pandemic.


Toulouse Oliver expressed appreciation that federal authorities are putting extra resources toward safeguarding the integrity of the election.

New Mexico Governor Self-Isolates After Staff Gets VirusMorgan Lee, Associated Press

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has tested negative for the coronavirus after a custodian at the governor’s mansion was diagnosed with COVID-19. The governor is self-quarantining for a two-week period as an extra precaution in accordance with state guidelines.


Lujan Grisham spokeswoman Nora Sackett said Monday that a staff member at the governor's official residence reported feeling unwell on the afternoon of Thursday, Oct. 1, and was immediately sent for a virus test that came out positive.


She said the governor was tested Friday with a negative result, and that 37 people who were potentially in the presence of the infected worker have been tested without any positive returned test results. A second round of testing for the governor and the others is scheduled for Wednesday.


Much of the governor's work already was being carried out remotely, though she typically delivered weekly virus updates by video feed from a legislative hearing room at the Statehouse.

Police: Doña Ana Deputy Shoots Man After Crash In Las CrucesAssociated Press

Authorities said a Doña Ana County deputy shot a man who was allegedly threatening people with a shotgun after a car wreck in Las Cruces over the weekend.

Doña Ana County sheriff's office spokeswoman Perri Marte said a silver sedan and a pickup truck towing a trailer collided on Sunday around 10 a.m.

Marte said Sheriff Kim Stewart, who was off duty at the time of the crash, and other bystanders stopped to help the people involved in the accident when the driver of the sedan retrieved a shotgun out of the vehicle and threatened those nearby before authorities arrived.

The man fled the scene and was found by a deputy several blocks away, Marte said, adding that the deputy fired his weapon, striking the man. Marte did not comment on the man's condition, but said the deputy was OK. Neither were identified.

An investigation is ongoing.

The Dona Ana County sheriff’s office did not immediately respond to a message Monday seeking more details.

Bitter U.S. Senate Contest Dwells On Crime, Coronavirus - By Morgan Lee Associated Press

Candidates for an open U.S. Senate seat in New Mexico are parrying a barrage of political attack ads as the first televised debate of the campaign takes place. 

Retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Udall has endorsed as his successor allied six-term U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, while Republican former television meteorologist Mark Ronchetti is proposing to chart a more conservative political course. 

Absentee balloting begins Tuesday across the state that currently has an all-Democratic delegation to Washington, D.C. 

Ronchetti is defending his standing as a scientifically minded Republican and trained meteorologist, as Luján draws attention to Republican President Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic and climate change.

At the same time, Luján is defending his approach to public safety and crime in New Mexico, as Ronchetti warns of efforts by liberal politicians to defund police agencies. Luján says he'll never vote as a Democrat to defund the police.

Scientist and Libertarian Party candidate Bob Walsh is also expected to join the debate in his no-frills bid for Senate without a federally registered finance committee.

New Mexico Reports 189 Additional COVID Cases, 2 More Deaths

New Mexico officials have reported 189 additional known COVID-19 cases and two more deaths, increasing the statewide totals to 30,477 cases with 892 deaths. 

The additional cases reported Sunday included 47 in Bernalillo County, 46 in Doña Ana County, 22 in Chaves County and 21 in Santa Fe County.

The two deaths occurred one each in Doña Ana and San Juan counties. 

There were 91 people hospitalized for COVID-19 in the state as of Sunday. 

The Navajo Nation reported 17 new coronavirus cases and no new deaths Saturday. The total number of deaths related to the virus on the reservation remains at 558, and the total number of cases is now 10,421.

Albuquerque Airport Has Gradual Increase In Plane Travelers - Associated Press

Demand for flights in New Mexico's Albuquerque International Sunport are low compared to normal, but there has been a gradual increase in travelers since April. 

In August, passenger numbers were down 77% from the same time in 2019. Now, traffic is down 71% from the same time last year, with about 4,800 travelers every day. 

A flight to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City returned to the Albuquerque airport recently. The route was canceled in May when traffic at the New Mexico airport was down 90% from the same time last year.

There have been over 30,000 confirmed cases and 887 confirmed deaths from the coronavirus in the state since the pandemic began, according to New Mexico's Department of Health.


Digital Platform To Help With Tracking Oil, Gas Emissions - Associated Press

Leading oil companies in the Permian Basin are working with a Colorado-based nonprofit environmental organization to better track emissions from the industry as it tries to curb pollution. 

Shell Energy, ExxonMobil and Chevron are among the partners working with the Rocky Mountain Institute. They will be using a digital platform that will offer emissions data from satellites, aircraft and monitoring stations as well as industry reports. 

The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports that the system — known as Climate Action Engine — is intended to help companies meet benchmarks for greenhouse gas emissions and invest more in targeted efforts to curb the effects of climate change.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is targeting emissions from the industry. Her administration has been working on stricter regulations.

The effort began last year as oil production was on pace to break more records and the state was awash in revenue from the boom in the Permian Basin — one of the most prolific plays in the United States. 

However, the industry now is looking to recover following a historic drop in prices that has been exacerbated by the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

Environmentalists have said the proposed rules don't go far enough, but the industry argues that a balance needs to be reached to allow for continued development.

Hot Air Balloons Fly Over Albuquerque, Keeps Tradition Alive - KOB-TV, Associated Press

The annual Balloon Fiesta was canceled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Albuquerque officials decided to make parks available for pilots to keep the fall tradition alive. 

Hot air balloons filled the sky over Albuquerque for the second day Sunday. 

KOB-TV reports balloons launched from various sites across the city including Balloon Fiesta Park, Ventana Ranch Park, Mariposa Basin Park, Vista del Norte Park and North Domingo Baca Park. 

In addition to the city parks, KOB says balloons took off from the parking lot at Coronado Center, which was the site of the first Balloon Fiesta. 

Balloons are planned to launch again this Wednesday and over the weekend.