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MON: New Mexico Marks Another Daily High For COVID Hospitalizations, + More

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Richard Pavilion at UNM Hospital

New Mexico Marks High For COVID-19 HospitalizationsAssociated Press

New Mexico has marked another daily high for the number of patients hospitalized as a result of a COVID-19 infection.

State health officials say there are more than 380 people hospitalized around the state. They also reported an additional 877 coronavirus cases Monday, boosting the statewide total to more than 48,100 since the pandemic began.

Another 10 deaths also were reported, bringing that statewide tally to 1,036.

The latest cases include 245 in Bernalillo County, the state's most populous area, and another 220 in Doña Ana County in southern New Mexico.

Monday also marked the first day for flags across the state to fly at half-staff. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham had issued the order last week after the state marked the 1,000th death related to the pandemic.

She called for a week of mourning, saying each victim should be remembered. The order runs through sundown Friday.

Navajo Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Over Tribe's Primary ElectionAssociated Press

A Navajo Nation judge has dismissed a lawsuit that sought to force a primary election that was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Elouise Brown filed the complaint in August, claiming the voting rights of Navajos were violated when all of the primary election candidates moved on to the tribe's general election ballot.

Window Rock Judicial District Judge Malcolm Begay dismissed the lawsuit last week. He says the court didn't have jurisdiction because Brown didn't follow provisions in tribal law to sue the tribal government.

The decision came days after the tribe filed a motion to dismiss the case.

The lawsuit sought to postpone Tuesday's general election until a primary election could be held, and to extend the time for people to file for elected offices, such as school boards and community leadership positions.

Navajo Energy Company To Acquire Shares In Coal Power Plant - By Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

The Navajo Nation would expand its investment in coal-fired electricity generation as part of a plan to acquire more shares in one of the Southwest's last remaining coal power plants.

The tribe's Navajo Transitional Energy Co. has negotiated an agreement with New Mexico's largest electric utility to take on the utility's share of the Four Corners Power Plant in 2024.

If approved by state regulators, the transaction would preserve jobs at the plant and the adjacent tribally-owned mine for several more years. Many of the workers are Navajo.

The deal would also allow the New Mexico utility a faster exit from coal. PNM already has regulatory approval to exit the neighboring coal-fired San Juan Generating Station in 2022. The workforce there also includes many tribal members.

PNM has predicted its customers could collectively save about $100 million on their bills with the utility's exit from Four Corners seven years earlier than planned. However, customers would still pick up the costs of pending liabilities after 2031, plus the cost of replacing Four Corners electricity with other resources.

Environmentalists have concerns about the Four Corners proposal, saying it would deepen the Navajo Nation's reliance on fossil fuels.

Navajo Nation Tallies 73 New Cases Of COVID-19, No DeathsAssociated Press

Navajo Nation health officials are reporting 73 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 but no deaths.

The latest figures bring the total number of cases to 11,828 and the known death toll to 581. Tribal health officials said 125,851 people on the vast reservation that covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah have been tested for COVID-19 since the pandemic started and 7,546 have recovered.

A shelter-in-place order, mask mandate, daily curfews and weekend lockdowns remain in effect on the Navajo Nation. 

Navajo Nation Lawmakers Approve Casino Reopening Plan - By Felicia Fonseca, Associated Press

Lawmakers on the Navajo Nation have approved legislation to reopen the tribe's four casinos.

The action Monday came despite a tribal health expert warning that the coronavirus is spreading uncontrollably. Navajo President Jonathan Nez has not said whether he'll support the measure.

The tribe reported 73 new cases of the coronavirus as of Sunday and no new deaths. The latest figures bring the total number of cases to 11,828 and the known death toll to 581 on the reservation.

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

Tribe Proposing To Reopen 4 Casinos In New Mexico, Arizona - Associated Press

The Navajo Nation is asking the public to weigh in on the possible reopening of four of the tribe's casinos in New Mexico and Arizona.  

The proposed reopening plan would allow casinos and other gaming facilities to operate at 50% capacity. 

If the legislation is not passed, KRQE reports the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise will likely be forced to permanently close and layoff all employees by the end of this month. 

The Navajo Nation gaming facilities have been closed since March to limit the spread of COVID-19 on the reservation.  

As of Saturday, tribal health officials said there have been 11,753 coronavirus cases on the reservation with 581 known deaths since the pandemic began.

New Mexico Reports 747 New COVID-19 Cases And 8 More Deaths - Associated Press

New Mexico health officials on Sunday reported 747 new COVID-19 cases and eight additional deaths. State Department of Health officials say the total number of cases since the pandemic began now is 47,232 with 1,026 known deaths. 

They say 224 of the new cases and three of the eight deaths were in Bernalillo County, the state's largest that includes metro Albuquerque, with 111 cases in Doña Ana County. 

Officials say 61 new cases involved inmates at the Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Valencia County. 

On Saturday, health officials reported 592 additional known virus cases and 11 additional deaths after reporting over 1,000 additional cases Friday with a single-day record of 13 deaths.

State health officials have renewed their pleas that people adhere to the public health order, which calls for residents to stay home whenever possible, limit contact with others and wear face coverings, among other things.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

New Mexico Report Shows Progress In Climate Change Efforts - Santa Fe New Mexican, Associated Press

State officials say New Mexico has made progress in reducing greenhouse gases and adapting to the effects of climate change, but work remains. 

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that a state climate change task force released its second annual climate report Friday. 

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says the state's commitment to fighting climate change has grown stronger as the effects of climate change have been exposed by an extended fire season, severe drought and low water levels. 

The report outlines steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions and conserve energy including updated building codes that save new homeowners up to $400 annually.

The initiative also includes $5.8 million in state investment for clean-energy and emissions-monitoring companies and job creation, and an estimated 1,346 megawatts of renewable energy expected between last year's passage of the Energy Transition Act and the end of 2020.

The report also described future goals including state adoption of rules for low and zero emissions, hydrofluorocarbon cuts and further reduction in greenhouse gases and other pollution from the oil and gas industry.

An environmental group applauded the state's effort but said loopholes must be closed in methane rules for the oil and gas industry.

GOP Says Conflict Continues On Vote Count In Doña Ana County - Associated Press

Clashes continued Saturday between Republican election challengers and absentee ballot handlers in a southern New Mexico county at the center of a congressional swing district race. 

State Republican Party Chairman Steve Pearce said that a challenger was ejected from the facility as the person tried to get close enough to the ballot tallying machine to take a photograph of vote counts. Four challengers were ejected Friday.

Challengers are appointed by political parties in New Mexico to be present as county election boards verify and tally ballots and can dispute the veracity of ballots for a variety of reasons. 

Pearce says the GOP has instructed its challengers in Doña Ana County to take photographs of serial numbers and daily vote tallies on the machines to ensure an accurate count.

The state's director of elections sought assurances Friday from the Republican Party that its poll challengers are not being told to disobey election board members, after four challengers were ejected in an altercation with Doña Ana County's absentee ballot counting board. 

Agency spokesman Alex Curtas said Saturday that the concerns had not been addressed yet by the party.

Doña Ana County represents a crucial voting bloc in a swing-district congressional race between Democratic U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small and Republican former state legislator Yvette Herrell. Torres Small won by fewer than 4,000 votes in 2018.

Air Force To Conduct Exercise In New Mexico, Arizona And Texas - Associated Press

The U.S. Air Force says residents of parts of New Mexico, Arizona and Texas can expect to see and hear additional military flight activity in the coming week, including some at night. 

Officials said the 355th Wing will conduct an exercise that will include airplane and helicopter operations. 

The exercise will be done at locations between Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona, on the west and the Army's Fort Bliss outside El Paso, Texas, on the east. 

Officials said the exercise dubbed Dynamic Wing is intended to prepare personnel for rapid deployments for "attack and rescue missions in austere environments." 

The 355th is based at Arizona’s Davis-Monthan.