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KUNM News Update

FRI: State Opens Alternate Care Facility For COVID-19 Patients, + More


New Mexico Opens Alternate Care Facility For COVID PatientsAssociated Press

With New Mexico hospitals facing a capacity crunch due the coronavirus outbreak, the state on Friday opened an alternate care facility for COVID-19 patients in a renovated former hospital in Albuquerque.

The state Department of Health said the Gibson Medical Center will only serve recovering COVID-19-positive adults who don't require acute care. The facility won't have an emergency hospital, intensive care unit or surgical suite, the department said in a statement.

Initially, the facility will use two floors to provide 25 beds for patients needing nursing care and an additional 25 beds for isolation or quarantine. An additional two floors are available to reach a maximum capacity of 180 beds, the department said.

Daily infections in New Mexico have surged to new highs in recent weeks. Health officials on Friday reported 2,993 new positive COVID-19 tests with 23 related deaths. The number of hospitalizations also increased to 808 people.

New Mexico has had a total of 77,098 cases and 1,325 deaths.

The number of reported 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.

The department said it would run the alternate care facility while relying on the University of New Mexico "for additional expertise and oversight."

Unemployed health care workers recruited to serve as temporary department employees will primarily staff the facility with augmentation by the state Medical Reserve Corps and, if needed, the New Mexico National Guard.

The state signed a one-year lease to use the privately owned building for $8.6 million a year.

Like their counterparts in other states, New Mexico hospital officials have described strains from the current pace of caring for increasing numbers of COVID-19 patients. Steps taken to cope include bringing in health care workers from other states, redeploying staff from clinics and setting up inpatient units in areas where they normally wouldn't be.

New Mexico Basketball Teams Temporarily Relocating To TexasAssociated Press

New Mexico's men's and women's basketball teams are temporarily relocating to Texas due to coronavirus restrictions in their home state.

Athletic director Eddie Nuñez says the men's program will set up at South Plains College in Lubbock. The women will move to Amarillo and practice at West Texas A&M in nearby Canyon.

The basketball season is set to start next week but neither program has announced a nonconference schedule yet.

The Mountain West Conference moved to a 20-game schedule this season with two-game series between the same teams.

The basketball relocations come three weeks after the football team temporarily relocated to the Las Vegas area to play its season. The Lobos played their first game in Las Vegas last weekend.

New Mexico State's men's basketball program arrived in Phoenix this week for practice and games. Its women's program is expected to practice in Tucson, Arizona, and play at a variety of locations.

Under New Mexico health guidelines, athletic departments currently do not allow games or workouts exceeding five people. Anyone who travels from outside the state also must quarantine for 14 days.

Albuquerque Is Among Finalist Locations For Space Command Associated Press

The city of Albuquerque has announced that it is being considered as a place to permanently locate the U.S. Space Command, the latest of 11 unified command under the U.S. Department of Defense.

The U.S. Air Force narrowed down its final options to Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque and bases in Florida, Nebraska, Alabama and Texas.

Its current temporary headquarters at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado is also a finalist. The Department of Defense said Albuquerque was one of 31 cities originally considered.

A final decision is expected in January after the department conducts virtual and in-person site surveys.

The new command would bring more than 1,000 new jobs and the potential for billions in spending and contracts in New Mexico.

Government officials believe Albuquerque stands a fighting chance given the state's extensive military and space-related assets.

State Police Say Man Fatally Shot While Resisting ArrestAssociated Press

The New Mexico State Police says an officer fatally shot a man allegedly trying to grab an officer's gun during an encounter following a chase.

A State Police statement said the incident occurred Thursday in Los Lunas on the Manzano Expressway.

According to the statement, the shooting occurred a short time after a State Police officer tried to conduct a traffic stop on the expressway, prompting a pursuit that a supervisor terminated due to road conditions and traffic.

The statement said two officers soon after were sent to a location where a man reportedly was trying to stop traffic on the expressway and that the man was shot during a struggle while resisting arrest.

The man's identity was not released immediately.

Teacher Vacations One Reason To Close Schools In New Mexico - By Cedar Attanasio Associated Press / Report For America

The documented community spread of the coronavirus is the main reason cited by school officials for scaling back efforts to provide in-person schooling.

There's another reason, too: Many school districts anticipate their staff and students will travel out of state.

With teachers coming back from Thanksgiving or Christmas vacations, they will have to quarantine for 14 days under Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's current health order.

The governor says she is "really disappointed" to learn that teachers and public servants are traveling.
She's vowing to investigate state employees, who don't include teachers, for unapproved travel and other violations of the public health order.

Small groups of students may be allowed to return to classrooms soon, though which students get priority for a limited number of in-person seats is an open question.

Districts generally agree with state officials that younger children are hurt the most from remote learning and are at the least risk for COVID-19.

Satellite Or Weather Balloon Crashes In Eastern ArizonaAssociated Press

Navajo Nation officials in eastern Arizona are trying to determine if a satellite or a high-altitude weather balloon crash-landed in a remote area of the reservation.

The vice president of the tribe's Dennehotso Chapter told The Arizona Republic that the object landed about 1,200 feet from his home while he was away in Tuba City.

A Navajo Nation Council delegate says the gray object appeared to have four large solar panels with an orange parachute.

The object was described as a satellite that crash-landed in the remote area of Dennehotso, a community about 25 miles east of Kayenta.